Ear Plugs

‘I wish I had ear plugs’ I hear myself say before I can stop.
‘I wish I had ear plugs that I could shove in my ears for the first two minutes when you all get into the car after school’, and I don’t look around to absorb the potentially hurt faces. I do not need to have those in my memory bank for guilt tripping myself in my dotage. Today is an acute case. It goes from passing the hour wait with marque 5 in pleasant (grab hold of these remnants of babyhood) banter and laughter to the assault.
‘Mu-um what about our book lists?  I told you they were due in and today is the LAST day’.
I’ve been putting it off, naturally. All that adding up and forking out in one go. Four booklists. Procrastination is called for.
‘I thought they were due on Wednesday’.
‘Well everyone else has theirs in by now’.
‘Yes but what day are they actually due in?’
‘I don’t know’ marque 3, the accuser says.
‘Wednesday’ marque 2 says assuredly. Saving me again. But then  – ‘Mum I definitely need my eyes tested’ and he goes into an elaborate tale of fuzzy letters on the board, of having to copy from his neighbour and then his own resourceful testing of the situation.
‘So I got my best friend to come down to the back where I’m sitting at break time. I asked if he could read the words. He said yeah, sure, no problem. So I NEED to get tested’.
‘Tested. Right. Of course. Although I think we’d know if there was a problem. You don’t seem to miss a trick to me. And anyway didn’t you get an eye test in Junior infants?’
‘I was four then. I’m nearly eleven. Maybe it’s time for another one’.
Point taken.
‘Mu-uu-uu-mm’ comes a wail from marque 4.
‘I’m in a show TOMORROW and I need all the costume stuff…’
‘You didn’t tell me you were in a show tomorrow’.
‘I DID. I gave you a note last week and you lost it and now I don’t know what time it’s at or what I have to wear’, and he sobs, real tears. This is all before they have their seat-belts on. All before we make our get away from the school gate. This is when my ear plugs comment enters the space. Just to add a bit of fuel to the fire. I could do with a good wail myself.

I nab marque 4’s bag and rummage. There is no way he gave me any note about a show. That I would remember. Especially as I’m supposed to make myself available. The show needs an audience. He’s as disorganised as I am. He forgot all about it. I rummage until I seize upon the crumpled note with the vital information. So annoyed am I at being accused twice – nay thrice in two short minutes – that I read the note aloud in what only could be described as a ‘see told ya so’ style. The others row in behind me now.
‘How can you expect Mum to know about your costume and the show if you don’t give her the note?’. This is going even further downhill. I am vindicated but there’s a mob vibe mooching around and I’m at the helm. Time to act like a parent again. On it goes.
‘Maybe she won’t even be able to go now all because you didn’t give her the note…’ Ascending wails.
‘Alright, enough. I will be able to go. We will be able to get the costume bits, although it will mean having to get out to the shops tonight. Marque 4, you need to be more organised. You need to hand the important notes over as soon as you get them so that I can act on them. There are repercussions…’ (I use this word a lot these days) ‘from being disorganised’.

They are silent (phew) and they never, ever ask what repercussions means. One of those mother words best left misunderstood. Maybe she’s really talking to herself after all. Now, homeward bound to fill that skip we had delivered this morning.

Myles costume

Ellen Kelly

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