Flexible

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Follow Claire Smith's Mothering Heights on Twitter @MinistryOfMum - Credit: Archant

MY HUSBAND was supposed to have the day off, but he informed me at 7.05 this morning that today is, in fact, a “Flexible Day”.

Now, in my years of knowing my husband, I have heard him say many important things like “My diary changes daily” and “It’s going down faster than a sinking soufflé” but I have never ever come across the term “Flexible Day”.

Before I let him explain, I swiftly realise that he HAS got the full day off but he can’t stand to be away from work in case things start going wrong in the universe such as Andy Murray is stripped of his Wimbledon title, there is no Royal Baby and Katie Hopkins turns out to be quite nice, simply because HE DIDN’T GO TO WORK. However, he has to think quickly because he’d already told me that it’s a day off and, well, he can’t give me more things to put in my File Of Subjects To Bring Up In Future Arguments.

As I start launching into him, thus waking the entire neighbourhood, he starts to back-track. And you have never seen anybody back-track quite like my husband. Not even a child who admits to have been told off at school suddenly to say that actually it wasn’t their fault, not even in the slightest.

This is his back-track five step plan:


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1) Deny everything.

2) Say that you told the other person exactly what was happening three weeks ago.

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3) Blame the other person for misunderstanding.

4) Admit there might have been some ambiguity.

5) This is what was actually meant and apologise but nothing is going to change.

This is what then happens – my husband tells me that he can take the children to school because he is on a “Flexible Day” which means he can go in late, but as I then stay in bed for 20 seconds more than normal, everything goes slightly chaotic. My daughter is still in bed at 8.30am, my son has lost his uniform, all school bags are in the paddling pool and the toddler is naked in the garden.

Somehow my husband gets them to school on time. He then goes to work, promising to be back to see our daughter perform her starring role as “Visitor Number 3” in the school performance, obviously upstaging Visitor 1 and Visitor 2 in her delivery of the line “Wine and oil”.

I am at home, as usual, clearing up the morning’s mess, walking the dog and picking up our youngest at lunchtime.

At 5pm, my husband texts me to say that he will be at the school at the required 6pm and, see, it’s all worked out in the end.

Our son, who usually can’t stand the sight of his sibling, decides that he wants to stay and watch the school play, thus ruining my idea of getting the boys back home and in bed by 7pm. So I have to wait with him for Daddy to show up. And we wait. And wait. In fact we wait for the entire performance, including my daughter’s Oscar winning performance for Actress In A Crappy Role, and hey ho don’t you know, Daddy turns up just as everybody is heading home.

He then decides that because he is earlier than normal (by 20 minutes), he’ll just pop to the tip.

Whilst he’s gone, my daughter has a hissy fit about nothing and drops the entire contents of the Lego box on the floor. It is a Lego lake. She promptly steps on some and spends the next half an hour crying about how it hurts and why am I not sympathising because clearly she’s in so much pain (hey, it prepares her for childbirth).

Whilst I’m dealing with her, clearly still in diva mode off the back of her school play, the dog jumps up against the kitchen side and eats half the dinner.

My son spills juice all over his homework.

The washing machine starts leaking.

My husband walks in, all smiles, at 7.55pm – the tip was busy but at least we don’t have to look at that old mattress anymore.

As I sit here writing I think, well, at least I didn’t have to do the school run this morning. And that is on my list of nice things you can do for me. So I suppose if I was more open minded I would consider that the “Flexible Day” wasn’t too bad after all. In fact, I might bear in mind that I didn’t have to do the packed lunches. I could regard the chocolate he brought home as a goodwill gesture. Heck, I might even take into account the come-to-bed eyes he’s been giving me for the past hour.

But, you know, I’m just not that flexible.

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