Compressing… or… how to time manage too much stuff

My request for compressed hours has been granted and so today was my first Monday off. A four long day week beckons. I started this last week and have been rushing about to all sorts of events and places, wishing for a lighter laptop and a better train service, and working in the office till late, therefore missing E’s bedtime. It’s a bit odd to only see her first thing in the morning but we’ll make up for it by having Mondays together (as well as the weekend). S works in an arboretum on Mondays so this will be our girly day. So what did we do today?

Well first up, the heat is not agreeing with E. She didn’t sleep well last night, was very hot and bothered and she has a nasty cough so by 9.30 this morning she was screaming with tiredness. I decided a walk into town was the best thing to send her off to sleep and by the time we met a friend for lunch she was all smiles again. We needed to do a spot of shopping to find E a fancy dress costume for the nursery’s ‘graduation’ party next week. This is for the children who are leaving to go to school next term. My heart sank when I saw the word graduation. They’re four, for heavens sake. The next thing you know we’ll be having a prom. Anyway, we needed a costume for fancy dress.

Since E had a pirate hat left over from Comic Relief it was clear what she was going as – might as well recycle the hat, it took me a while to make. We bought some stripy trousers, a pirate belt and a foam cutlass. With a white tshirt she’ll be set!

We lunched at The White Rabbit tea rooms (second site – up that alley on Bridlesmith Gate). I am always intrigued by who ladies that lunch actually are. We were accounted for – I have compressed hours but still work full time and my friend is a part-time lecturer who was going home after lunch to do some work. But who are the others, the fifty somethings with shopping bags? Nobody knows but there were lots of them today. A steady stream who watched our antics with bemusement.

The shop didn’t have high chairs and I’d forgotten our cloth portable one so E sat on my lap and demolished cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, throwing half of them on the floor when she wasn’t spreading them all over her face. She then had a banana and gulped down juice. And then decided she wanted to walk around, pick up forks and spoons and throw them about and then help herself to my cake.

We’ve known for a while that she understands the word no but it’s just in the last few days that she’s started reacting to me saying it. And reacting badly. I believe this is known as boundary testing? Anyway, in the last few days she’s started yelling when I’ve said no to her putting her hand in hot tea, pulling off my sunglasses and today, helping herself to something off my plate. One firm no and you’d think she’d suffered some kind of major hardship. What a racket. And of course there’s nothing you can do if you don’t want to give in so you suffer the looks from the fifty somethings with their bags of shopping.

On our return home, we decided we weren’t ready for an afternoon in the house and had a lovely time in the park. Heading across the play area E stood and stared at another baby girl, about the same age. I said, “Are you saying hello to the little girl?” The girl’s dad said “They know each other from nursery don’t they?”

Do they?

I hardly ever see any children when I take E as we’re one of the first there. S probably knows who they are. I store the little girl’s name and appearance up to mention to him. It’s odd to think that E has entire days and experiences I know nothing about at all. I realise this will always be the case and more as she grows up but still, she knows all these children and does all these things that I have no idea about. Her daily reports from nursery are usually the same – they list how much she’s eaten (everything) how often they’ve changed her and then give an indication of the activities she’s done. The line at the bottom always reads “E has had a lovely day playing with the blah…” If anything negative happens, if she’s been grumpy or whatever, they never write that down – they always tell us verbally. Even the day she was bitten it read “E has had a lovely day…” Ridiculous.

E’s new love is for dogs. And ducks. We saw plenty of both in the park. She was thrilled and kept squeaking and gazing back at me to make sure I was paying attention too.

And now she is asleep and I have to spend the evening writing. Easier today than it will be for the rest of the week – staring at a computer after I’ve spent the day staring at a computer is tough on the braincells but there’s no other time to fit it in. For those of you who don’t yet know I am at the beginning of working on a collaborative novel where ten writers get voted out chapter by chapter till only one is left. The votes are open to the public – feel free to check out the Facebook page and contribute if you like (my character is called Valerie Manning) I’ve already made dinner for the next few days, including some pasta courgette carbonara for E from our home grown courgettes, and I’ve tidied up and put the washing away. It feels like Monday will be part enjoyment, part catching up and preparing for the week ahead. It may take some adjusting to.

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