Here in this Great Southern Land — which, over the weekend turned into the Great Scorched Land when the fifteen hottest places ON THE PLANET were all on Australia’s Eastern Seaboard — our children have started a new school year.
Two weeks ago, all our gorgeous little munchkins trouped dutifully off for another year of educational learning and fun at primary and high schools around the country. For the record, it was not much cooler then: last Sunday night was the first time Sydney’s temperature dipped below 20˚C since January 20th. Seriously. That’s 23 days and nights of temperatures above 20˚C and, believe me, it got hideously hot during the day…
I mean, a lot happened in those twenty-three days. America, apparently, got itself a brand new President. Those crazy cats in North Korea tested another missile. Beyoncé took to Instagram sporting a veil to announce she’s having twins (though I should point out she was also wearing mismatched underwear, which as all mothers know is a dead giveaway that you’re already raising children). Over on Twitter, the hashtag #ShePersisted was born. In the Amazon, a butterfly flapped its wings. (Disclaimer: this last event may not have been deemed newsworthy but I’m reasonably sure it did occur…though I’ll leave it up to you to decide which of the aforementioned events, if any, are connected.)
But anyway, it wasn’t the heat or any of that other stuff that caused me to lose my mind, people.
No, it was far more simple than that:
I TOTALLY LOST MY SANITY COVERING MY CHILDRENS’ SCHOOL BOOKS IN CLEAR PLASTIC ADHESIVE.
Yes, you know what I’m talking about…I can sense you all nodding sagely and feeling my pain, because I suspect that you, too, have experienced it.
Here in Australia clear plastic adhesive is commonly called “Contact”, though I’m no longer sure whether this is because Contact is the brand name used by the major manufacturer of the diabolical stuff, or because contact with your children is likely to be limited by whatever they’re currently calling the government department that deals with emotional abuse after you’ve finished
screaming expletives and threatening violence covering all their school books.
I mean, I try. I really do.
Most things about being a mother of primary school aged kids I think I’m reasonably good at. My children generally turn up at school wearing the right uniform and carrying the correct equipment. Including their nutritious lunch and recess and fruit break and water bottle.
But covering school books in Contact?
I’m utterly woeful. Completely hopeless. Borderline dreadful.
And, to make matters worse, my darling cherubs spent a considerable amount of their first few days back at school carefully colouring in beautiful cover pages for their school books, which they dutifully glued to the front of their workbooks. Paper cover pages, you understand. Some of them, in the interests of being environmentally and economically responsible, had paper covers on BOTH sides of the book so it could be used for two subjects. (Those ones are my favourite. No, really they are). At any rate, they were really quite lovely, until…
…well, until I totally bungled covering one of the books and, when trying to remove the plastic adhesive from the cover, ripped one of my kids’ ornately decorated cover page in two. (This, to be honest, may actually have happened more than once).
I’m so sorry, I whispered.
My younger daughter looked down at the mess I had made, aghast and uncharacteristically silent.
The older one — who has now had her books butchered by her mother for the fourth consecutive year — was a bit more supportive: she sighed (quite philosophically, I thought), shrugged, and said: Well, Mum, you did your best.
Which I did. Really, I did.
And I promised them that next year, Next Year, would be different. Because next year, I am going to be PREPARED.
Yes, my friends!
Next year, I’m going to study all those lovely Pinterest tutorials that do their utmost to appraise you of the tried and tested tips and tricks for book covering — and look! Oh, will you just look at their darling photographs of the seventeen new and exciting ways you can cover your books: decoupage covers, coloured duct tape covers, ombre linen covers, crocheted covers.
(What the…are these people actually serious?!)
Next year, I am going to source the highest quality clear plastic adhesive money can buy for covering my childrens’ school books, and I am going to unroll said adhesive (probably down the entire length of my house) and weigh it down for a week or three so it does not spontaneously and sadistically re-roll itself during said covering process.
(Because that won’t inconvenience a soul, will it?)
Next year, I am going to make a quiet trip to the family doctor and get a prescription for beta-blockers (and/or whatever else he’s prepared to give me), followed by a stop at the nearest bottle shop for some tequila (or any other clear, water-like substitute, with which to wash those tablets down).
(Ahhh…now this might actually happen…)
In the meantime, I’m going to sit in a dark, quiet corner, hyperventilating into a brown paper bag while I count up to 1,349,265 (or maybe 1,349, 266) and wondering just how Beyoncé would go covering books for her soon to be three children in plastic adhesive…particularly if she’s still wearing mismatched underwear and a veil…