sugar and spice

July 18, 2018

 

I awoke to the sound of my sweet partner's snoring. I checked the time, it was only 5 am. I blinked and it was 7. Our wide open bedroom windows were letting in the loveliest cool air and possibly a handful of spiders (no screens). It's been so unbearably hot for nearly 2 months, the past 2 days have actually been cool at night, and I feel like it's made everyone very sleepy and calm. No doubt the temperature will rise again and we will be back to cranky and sweaty. After hitting snooze 3 times, I gave myself a pep talk and started waking up the other 4 sleepy heads in the house. Waking up my children is the most tragic thing. The wisdom of sleeping when your baby sleeps is more important to me now than it ever was when the boys were infants! 

 

My partner said good morning to all the boys, dressed, and as per usual, was out of the door to work within 20 minutes of waking. I sleepily helped Mr. G and Mr. L into their Beach Party outfits, as today is a non-uniform day. British primary school has a lot of dress-up days. The last three were Safari Day, Beach Day, a Royal Wedding, and now Beach Party Day. In my perception, these are somewhat similar, and I've struggled to come up with a different costumes each time. The boys were pleased with the look I pulled together today, Hawaiian shirts over logoed T-shirts and shorts, sandals, sunglasses, hair gel for an extra special look. 5 year olds these days have quite the social calendar. I woke Mr. K and then made breakfast for the boys. I put on the television for distraction purposes and went upstairs to get dressed myself. At this point we had only 20 minutes until the gates at our first school drop off location would be unlocked.

 

In England, school drop off and pick up are the responsibility of the parents or carers of the child. You must drive or walk your children to school and get them through the school gates to their classroom. The gate is open for only 10 MINUTES. If you arrive too early, you will just be stood outside the gate with all the other parents and children until the time that the gate will be unlocked. If you arrive after the 10 minute window, you must buzz the office via the locked gate, wait until they let you in, walk your child to the office, sign them in, and then return to the gate, where once again you must buzz the office to be let out. There is a lot of talk about schools "being very secure," and they are. I do feel like my children are safe at school, and more importantly, could not escape even if they wanted to! Yesterday, I had a meeting at Mr. G and Mr. L's school, I had to sign in via a touch screen, which also took my photo and printed off a badge with my photo on it, to wear for the duration of my visit. The badge had a code to scan upon leaving the school and was then destroyed. Schools in Canada are largely unlocked, or sometimes only unlocked at the main office entrance. The school yards are definitely not fenced in and locked. And I don't think I have ever seen a parking lot locked unless it was part of a high security building. Most car parks here lock/close every night. Even ASDA, which is essentially WalMart. England does not take security, of anything, lightly. 

 

Soon, I was dressed and coifed, and downstairs calling for Mr. K to get ready for school. We find it best to dress him just before leaving, as he is an unpredictable human. Case in point, I was looking for him, when I heard a light knock at my door. It was my lovely neighbour, pajamaed and barefoot, letting me know that Mr. K was walking around our cul de sac in his underwear. I went out and brought him in, thanked my neighbour for her heroics (I owe you Mrs. T), and got to helping Mr. K get dressed. I kept smelling chocolate for some reason, and when I went to fetch my keys, I saw that Mr. K had emptied an entire canister of hot cocoa all over the kitchen. It smelled delicious, but you can see why we dress Mr. K right before we leave. Although now that he fancies a morning walk about, I may have to rethink this. Better yet, I will have to lock the door after my partner leaves. In English houses, doors can only be locked and opened with keys (and each door has a different key to keep things interesting- each window too if you want to really be secure), so Mr. K would be nicely trapped if I were to keep my keys near me. Once again, England has adequate safeguards to keep my children contained, I just must employ them. 

 

We now had 5 minutes until the gate closed. Mr. K was not dressed, the children were not in the car, and the school is an 8-10 minute drive away. You don't have to be a math whiz to realize that we were not going to make it. I know, we should get up earlier- I refuse. We should have someone here to make us breakfast and help with the children- I'm listening... At this point, I knew that we would be signing in at the office, so I decided to relax a little and enjoy my hilarious boys. Mr. K got dressed and was off too school smelling like Willy Wonka's factory. Mr. G and Mr. L had a mini photo shoot in their "cool beach dude clothes." We signed in at the twins school a full 15 minutes after the gate closed, and it was fine. At school number 2, we just missed the queue of cars and swooped in as Mr. K's favourite TA was walking by and she was able to bring him in. 

 

After all that excitement, I decided, on a whim, to get my yearly haircut. I dropped into my local salon, they were able to fit me in, and I had an enjoyable chat with a lady from Brazil. The grannies who surrounded me getting their hair done reminded me so much of my grandma in Canada that my heart ached. I popped into the corner store and while purchasing milk and chili banana chips/crisps, the cashier warned me that the crisps were spicy. I told him that I love (and miss) spicy food. He then took me to the back and showed me a hidden Indian grocer with the largest variety of spices I have ever encountered. So this shopkeeper and I bonded over food, as I do with most of my friends, and I've purchased some exciting culinary delights! The banana chips were the best I've ever had, not at all too spicy. 

 

I'm home now. Laundry and chores await me. In 25 minutes I will start the whirlwind of the school pick up. I still have not cleaned up that cocoa spill. But my hair looks great, I have the best neighbours, my children are safe, I've made two new friends, and my house smells like Cadbury. Life is sweet. 

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