Wednesday, 7 March 2007


Sisly's coming round. Sisly is six and goes to school. Her mother is going to report me to Social Services. I can see it now. One minute after she's dropped Sisly at the door she'll be struck into dumbness with the sight of the kitchen floor, and the worksurface, and Squirrel, covered in raspberry jam, and me, with the torn leg on the jeans where it caught on the oven door which fell off in 2004, and she'll be straight back on the phone to the SS, reporting me for child neglect.

So today I am cleaning the house from top to bottom so Sisly's mum cannot report me for child neglect. My next worry is the home education. Sisly's mum is very happy with Sisly's school. She is very pro-school. She will report me to the LEA. So I am going to drill Squirrel with her 2 times table so that when Sisly's mum arrives Squirrel is at the table in the schoolroom reciting her two times table and not getting anything wrong. Then Sisly's mum cannot report me to the LEA for failing to educate my child properly.

Then I am going to have to work on Dig. He must get his trousers on. I know that it is one of life's pleasures, being able to work from home without wearing your trousers, but if Sisly's mum gets round here to be greeted by a squalid house, Squirrel covered in raspberry jam and not knowing her two times table, and then Dig without his trousers on, all the children will be taken in to care and I will be up in court.

By the time Sisly's mum gets here, towing a timid Sisly behind her, the house is as clean as it can ever be, Squirrel is brushed and presentable, Dig is wearing trousers, and I am red in the face and have a scrubbing brush pushed down the leg of my jeans.

Sisly's mum is very nice and doesn't at all seem to even notice the kitchen worksurface has nothing on it. I'm minded to draw her attention to it. She doesn't grill Squirrel on her 2 times table either. I'm wondering if I could introduce it into our conversation on traffic problems in Small town, but in fact Squirrel has already grabbed Sisly at the door and taken her off to her bedroom, closely followed by Tiger and Shark. I wonder if grabbing Sisly might have suggested to Sisly's mum that none of my children have any friends and are all desparate for social contact, thus making sure she calls the LEA directly when she gets home, telling them my children are hot housed all day long so I can live the glory of three PhDs in a row by age 12.

But she doesn't seem to notice this either. In fact she seems very keen to drop Sisly off, have a quick chat, and go home. This is very strange to me. If this was the home ed world, right now the whole family would troop in, grandma and all, and I'd be providing green teas, red teas, pink teas, vegan biscuits and wiggly eyes for a life-size Egyptian mummy the kids have decided to knock up on the kitchen table.

When it's time to go home, Sisly's mum politely buzzes at the door, and Sisly rushes off upstairs with Squirrel, Shark and Tiger. Then thank goodness Sisly and Sisly's mum are normal. Sisly refuses to go home and hides. Sisly's mum shouts. Shark throws a blanket over Sisly, who crawls at lightening speed between me and Sisly's mum into the back bedroom, looking like an uncontrollable baby bear. Sisly's mum shouts some more. Tiger and Shark slam the door, whooping with delight, while Squirrel pins herself against it, hanging both hands on the door knob. Cue a lot of banging on the door from both sides, a lot of shouting from the grown ups and screaming with delight from the bears.

It takes about fifteen minutes to extract Sisly and get her downstairs. Sisly's had a screaming fit and a big telling off. This is nothing, really. When we've been at Jol's house it's taken two hours to separate Tiger, Shark and Squirrel from Am and only then with promises that we can see Am again within 48 hours.

But when Sisly's gone I think I probably shouldn't have worried. And next time I probably won't bother cleaning up. In fact Sisly's mum is probably sitting at home right now, worrying whether I'll give Social Services a call.

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