Tuesday, 11 May 2021

She lives in a house, a very small house, in the country

I OFTEN find myself wondering whether the redoubtable yummy mummies at the school gates yank their kids away from mine and give me a wide berth because

a) my once-stylish White Company blue and white-striped tops are so full of holes, they’re now the sartorial equivalent of Swiss cheese, thanks to Cookie and his razor-sharp puppy teeth

b) my bargain basement at-home highlights kit has given me the brassy hair colour of a dumpy, past-it pole dancer or

c) they’re aware of my marital status and know the kids are from a “broken home”.

Perhaps it’s a heady combination of all three.

Whatever it is, I’m sure I’ve heard one of them gasp: “Get away from The Lone Mother — and pronto!”

Or maybe it’s my imagination.

Either way, I’ve become so overly-concerned with how my kids look and behave in public (lest they show me up), it’s getting out of hand.

Taking the Ten-Year-Old Teenager shopping for her residential trip last week, I was shocked — nay, appalled — by the overtly sexual, quite frankly tarty gear they’re pushing on to kids these days; off-the-shoulder crop tops that flash far too much flesh, teeny, weeny Kylie Minogue-ish hotpants…

The TYOT donned such an outfit and pouted, hands on barely-there hips.

“Drunk cheerleader on spring break,” I unwittingly said out loud.

She groaned in frustration, her knuckles practically scraping the ground as she harrumphed her way to the tills, me bringing up the rear, brandishing a boiler suit in her size.

Which instantly reminded me of a previous shopping trip where I’d forbidden leopard print and she emerged from the shops triumphantly head-to-toe in the stuff — save for a tight pair of pleather pants.

Honestly. Bet Lynch in a training bra.

But it’s not just the TYOT who’s been running rings around me since the divorce — her Sunshiney Seven-Year-Old brother’s been at it lately, too.

Desperate for some assimilation and a play date, the SSYO begged me to take him, Cookie and The Nicest Neighbour in the World’s son out for a walk along the river.

Two birds, one stone, I smugly smiled to myself — country mother and dog owner of the year!

“Please don’t be more than an hour — we leave for swimming lessons at a quarter past two!” called the boy’s mum.

Two hours later, Cookie’s nowhere to be found while the SSYO and his friend are stuck in mud up to their armpits, sinking fast.

Passers-by help to form a human chain and 10 minutes later, the boys are free. Filthy, slimy and smelly — but free.

Just then, Cookie bounds up, shaking half the Thames from his coat and covering us all with his foamy slobber.

“Typical,” The Loveliest Neighbour in the World shakes her head and tuts when I present her son.

“Look,” I respond. “Just because I’m a city slicker single mum doesn’t mean you can’t trust me with your child.

“I’m not some unfit boozy, floozy mother who can’t control her feral kids and...”

“What are you on about?” she frowns. “Typical boys I was about to say!”

“Oh,” I hang my head. “Soz about the swimming lesson.”

“I lied — we don’t leave till 5.30! I mean, two lads, one dog, boggy meadowlands, what could possibly go wrong?”

So we bung the boys in her posh roll-top bath and indulge in a slice (or six) of home-made carrot cake.

Why? Because country etiquette deems it rude not to, of course. Despite my ever-growing, massive Single Mum Bum.

But that’s another story…

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