Freddie achieved another milestone last week — at the age of ten years and three months old he got his first Valentine. A proper one, mind you, from someone at school. Not only has he smashed a milestone, he’s also smashed all previous family records, most especially my own personal worst — I was twenty-five years and eleven months before I ever got a Valentine. Bear in mind that all my cousins, male and female, on both sides were married by the age of twenty-three: I was considered the most intractable old maid, and my mother would regularly throw her hands up in anguish and declare that I would end up living in a Salvation Army hostel. Mind you, she also threw her hands up whenever I DID have a boyfriend because he wasn’t the right kind of boyfriend: wrong job, wrong age, wrong nationality, had an ex-wife, extreme hobbies (in short they were generally all just a bit too interesting). I’m convinced all that arm waving is the reason why she is still so fit. I’m also convinced that she was the inspiration for Kermit the Frog.
Anyway, Freddie’s Valentine was a nice end to a week which also saw his class come runners up in an inter-school Table Cricket tournament. Freddie scored lots of sixes, despite the fact that he wasn’t playing on his home turf: the competition was held at another school. So much for Special schools being places of segregation where children are hidden away — Freddie’s school are active members of the local community.
While Freddie was gaining secret admirers and smashing out the sixes, I was losing it … or rather, I was losing things. I brought two pairs of socks, two blocks of chocolate and a box of fake Lego into the house, on separate occasions, and on all three occasions immediately lost said items: I remember taking the items out of my bag in the kitchen, and in the case of the socks I remember taking the tags off, but I have absolutely no recollection of what I did with them after that. And after I lost the things, I lost the plot. I’d been promising myself some fat, fluffy socks all winter — and now, although I know I’ve bought them, I have no clue where they are; the chocolate was just about the only thing I had to give to my older son on his birthday, because I knew his main presents wouldn’t arrive in time; and the ‘Lego’ was to be Freddie’s mystery treat for completing his sticker chart. I cried, I properly sobbed — I’m usually the one who can be relied upon to know where everything is, but this time there were just blank spaces where the knowledge should be. Later, looking at the calendar I realised that something else was AWOL too, and there was only one conclusion to be drawn: I’m heading rapidly towards a milestone myself — for a woman, it’s probably the last major milestone before death.
Now it’s Monday and the first day of half-term. Freddie is full of beans and looking for mischief; my nose is bright red and streaming, and I can’t stop sneezing. My mascara is running already. Usually I try very hard to give the lie to the stereotype of the dowdy, downtrodden ‘Special Needs’ mother (t.b.h I don’t know any ‘Special Needs’ mum who does conform to this), but this week I’m really letting the side down, because I’ve also managed to completely mow off one eyebrow with my new gadget (nothing says ‘Merry Christmas, you hairy old trout,’ like a Veet Precision Beauty Styler). My ‘style’ is now ‘slightly quizzical’. According to the sparse instructions, the thing is also suitable for the ‘bikini line’. I think I’ll pass – due to the level of ‘precision’ with this product, I’d likely end up inventing a whole new kind of vajazzle — not so much a Brazilian (complete deforestation), more the End-of-Season Strawberry Farm (just a field of burning stubble). And speaking of burning, I could have sworn I’d slid a tray of delicious peanut butter cookies into the oven, but when I slid it out again it was just a tray of charred cowpats.
I was just wondering where to end this post when Freddie tipped the contents of the laundry basket down the stairwell. I think perhaps the best thing to do will be to gather it up and carry it straight through to the laundry room, and give Freddie a sticker for ‘helping mummy take the laundry downstairs’.