Monday 15 September 2008

Wrangling Boy #2

Me: "It's a problem."

Husband: "What is?"

Me: "Boy #2, at his brother's pick-up from school. You know, I told you about it. He hates it, and I don't blame him. If I were his size, I wouldn't be too happy about it all either."

Husband: "What are you talking about?"

Me: "Well, you know. The queue of mummies waiting to pick up their little darlings. Everyone's taller than him, milling around, and filing into the school at snail's pace, it takes ages - sometimes up to 10 minutes to get through the door."

Husband: "What does he do?"

Me: "What doesn't he do? He runs away, effectively meaning that we queue jump - you know I hate that... (Husband snickers - I can see him thinking 'That's my boy!' The Dutch don't do queuing, as a rule).

Me: "When I pick him up to stop that happening, he squirms and squeals, and as we stand on the school steps waiting to go in he pretends to be a train, hooting and whistling. Except that to anyone who doesn't know he's supposed to be a train, it sounds instead rather like a banshee."

Husband: "Well..."

Me: "Oh, I'm not finished. This is usually next to the head teacher who stations herself there every day and on whom it would be helpful for him to make a good impression since we haven't actually registered him at the school yet... "

Husband: "Well he's not even 3 yet, so..."

Me: "...And when we do finally make it inside, he normally decides this is the perfect moment to pretend to be a dog and crawl up the steps to the collection point, causing major traffic jams and hazards for the children and parents leaving - all of which, yet again, is in full view of the head teacher... I mean, I know he's not even 3 yet, and shouldn't be expected to behave perfectly, but, EVERY DAY?"

Husband: "But still..."

Me: "And then, when we make it to the front of the queue, and I'm busy kissing Boy #1 hello, Boy #2 takes advantage of that to make a bid for freedom amongst the coat racks and I have to hunt him down like a madwoman, trying all the time not to burst into hysterical laughter and scare off all the relatively normal mummies who I haven't had the chance to get acquainted with yet..."

Husband: "Have you thought of leaving him in the car?"

Me (momentarily stunned into silence - but only momentarily): Are you mad?

Husband: "Why? What could go wrong?"

Me: "Have the social services call on us, that's the least that could go wrong. It's not as if I can park opposite the school entrance, for a start, I normally have to park around the corner."

Husband: "You can lock the door, he'll be perfectly safe."

Me: "Really. Really? You know how he can free himself from the straps on his car seat? And open the window? And how he then likes to shout 'Merry Christmas!' at passers-by at the top of his voice? (Not that it's intelligable at that volume, but still...) So it's not like he's staying 'inconspicuously' in the car."

Husband: "Hmmm..."

Me: "Yes, hmmm...."

Husband: "It's a problem."


  1. Just so you know, a friend of mine luckily decided not to leave her daughter in the car while she nipped into Next to return an item. She came back outside to find her engine had caught fire!! So boy #2 possibly not perfectly safe locked in the car! Guess you'll just have to struggle on. Best of British!

  2. Thanks WM (and if Husband should read this, You See? YOU SEE????)

  3. I suggest strapping him tightly in a (second-hand shop if you've binned it) pushchair with a large bag of Quavers.

  4. Hellooo she shouts from a vacuum that has been the Summer - know just the problem with small infants insisting on going their own way at the moment jus and in front of the headmaster...I use bribery. I promise it never fails - for the infant NOT the headmaster - though on second thoughts...

  5. Friend of mine had her small boy playing in her parked car outside her own house (in US), keeping an eye on him from front room, and a nosey passser-by (who I don't blame, actually) reported her to the police. She had an officer round giving her a lecture on child safety within the hour.

    Yes, strapped into pushchair with edible bribe is good - hang on a minute, oops, you mention steps. How about a hiking-style backpack? Is he too big for that now?

  6. I'm sure it does not get as hot there as it does here but we constantly seem to have mom's in the news for losing kids to over heating in cars. I assume that's what you meant by social services calling. At any rate, I haven't a better idea other then what's become a popular trend - kid on a leash. I used to think it was appalling but I've been told by parents with busy little ones that it's preferable to losing a small one.

    Hilarious post, your son sounds like a handful!

  7. Boy #2 senses your insecurity and takes advantage of it by being a pain in the neck. Have you tried ignoring him and just letting him do whatever he does? Act like he is no concern of yours? Don't worry about what sort of impression he makes on the head teacher or on the other parents. That's how we become trapped into this whole thing in the first place.

  8. I'm with boy no.2. Imagine - a 2 year old behaving like, well, like a 2 year old!! Why is the headmistress just standing there watching this chaos and not offering assitance? Why can't the class teacher file the class out in an orderly line and deliver them to parents instead of requiring parents to waste good gossip time stuck in a queue; possibly not even in the queue next to the person with the best gossip? I would put on your best indignant face and allow boy no. 2 to wreak havoc until the head takes responsibility and changes such a silly system! t.xx (P.S. for the record, I once left my car right outside a shop door, in their car park off the main street. Being utterly neurotic and over-protective I took my baby into the store with me. 5 minutes later, a lorry had wiped out one side of my car whilst attempting a tricky turning manoeuvre. Baby car-seat covered in glass - do I need to continue? (Just in case the burning engine wasn't enough!)

  9. GBS, Quavers, good call, though I favour mini Cheddars. Only problem here is a) no space for push chairs inside, and b) seeing his brother in posession of a snack would cause a riot from Boy #1 if he wasn't IMMEDIATELY handed one too...(which is logistically tricky at pick-up. In the car, yes, of course...

    TW, hello, welcome back! I think it definitely has to be some sort of bribery. As above though,just need to work out what.

    Iota, sadly yes he is too big. At least if I want to be able to stay upright, that is. Of course, I could always just join him on the floor and pretend to be a horse - but I think that might rather defeat the object (since he is still too little to get embarrassed).

    SB, it's less about the heat, more about the danger of having your child damage the car, escape, or heaven forbid, be snatched. Which is a hot topic over here.

    Irene, good idea, and one I would in other circumstances be tempted to go with, but since the queue is along the edge of a very busy street, not possible I'm afraid.

    KP, I do sympathiase with Boy #2, really I do. The problem is that as in my comment above, we're on a narrow pavement on a busy street (welcome to central London schooling), so bringing the kids out to us is just not practical for the school, and nor is letting Boy #2 run free. And thanks for the extra ammo on the leaving him in the car front!

  10. Engine on fire, visit from police, broken glass on baby seat. Have we persuaded the boys' father yet?

  11. Oh the times I want to leave the boys in the car to just run into the shop to grab baby-wipes etc. But here, am in permanent fear of the cops being called on me like iota talks about.
    Nobody minds their own business. I actually risked it once when in the pouring rain and howling wind I couldnt get a parking space right outside the mail box at the post office. So I parked about 4 cars away from it, hopped out, posted my letter and came back to the car to find a woman peeering into the vehicle.
    "Do you know they are children in this car?" she said.
    (I wanted to fake surprise and say, 'Cor blimey, where did they appear from' but from the look on her face I knew she wouldn't get my humour.)
    She then proceeded to give me a lecture and threatened to call the cops. I had left the boys for a whole 6 seconds!
    So, I know this isn't much comfort, but I hear your pain at having to take boy #2 into school and unleash a stressful situation for you all. I feel so very often frustrated that a simple errand turns into a major man hunt / tear-fest (usually mine) as the boys run around aisle after aisle and throw tantrum after tantrum.
    It would be so much easier to leave them in the car! Am sure it's quieter in jail....

  12. Oh wow! He's an adventure huh? Sounds like how my little guy would be in such circumstances. Have you thought of duct tape? Or a straight jacket?

    Oh right..child services might be called then too. :-)

    Very funny conversation though between you and the hubby.

  13. Iota, we might have - if he ever bothered to read the comments on this blog...

    M/M, it certainly would be easier to leave them in the car, and remember my mother used to do that often with us. Times have changed, however - and there's no sticking your head in the sand about it, you just have to accept it. And deal with taking the kids EVERYWHERE.

    J's Mommy, straight jacket in the form of reins (as suggested by SB) is not a bad idea - except I can see hilarious consquences ensuing in the form of twisted cords, people tripping over, injuries...(Am I being a little 'glass half empty, do you think?)

  14. Oh stress! Get an auto-gyro and collect boy no.1 from the roof? Sorted! t.x

  15. Oh it all sounds so familiar. I had a similar situation picking them both up from nursery a while back - I would be carrying Littleboy 2 and Littleboy 1 (then aged 2) would break into a run as we approached the road, which is fairly busy, and sometimes run right out. I decided the best thing to do would be to carry him out first, strap him in, and then go back for his brother.
    When I told the nursery this was my plan, they looked horrified and said: "But that's so dangerous!". What, leaving him alone in the car for all of 2 minutes is MORE dangerous than letting him run into the road? What a crazy world we live in.

  16. So husband doesn't often do the school run then? Let him take over for a week and he might come round to your way of thinking.... alternatively you migh tfind him sitting, locked in the car, rocking slowly back and forth as your toddler hails passers by from the window.... I'll keep an eye out in South Ken!

  17. KP, hmmm, interesting idea...

    VG, I know. You're damned if you do...

    Mud, he actually does it when he can. Most of his working week is abroad though, so sadly I am forced out of my dressing gown to do it myself!

  18. Short reins and bribery would seem to be the only feasible solution given the school's situation PM! My son #2 would be very happy with a large current bun, you'll just have to have a second one ready for son #1 as soon as he joins the happy family group. I was lucky with my boys' primary school as there was a large playground to wait in, the local playschool was a different matter though.

    Re leaving child in car, we had friends with twins (then aged 5 months) who were both asleep in their carseats when the parents got out to stretch their legs by the promenade wall of a popular seaside resort along the (UK) south coast. It was early winter and almost deserted, said parents were literally 5 paces away from car. A passing Police Patrol car stopped, both policemen got out and proceeded to read them a lecture on irresponsible parenting. The parting shot was that they were very lucky not to be reported to Social Services there and then! Case closed!

  19. hehehehe... *shaking my head as I leave*


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