Scientists will tell you that black holes exist only in space, but most mums will tell you that they also exist on earth but that they go by another name – the day-care drop-off and pick-up.
The simple task of collecting your child from day-care has the potential to suck the time right out of your day, just like a toddler sucking the icing off a cupcake.
Take the other day for example. I left the house at quarter past four in the afternoon, and after I had battled all the school mums coming back from the shops and after-school sports, I then had to circle the block three times before a space became free outside the day-care. After squeezing into a space barely big enough for a bicycle and taking a layer of paint off both sides of the car, I had to pull nine month old Curly Mop out through the boot because the doors wouldn’t open.
Arriving in the three and a half year old Blonde Bombshell’s classroom, I happened to see her walk out of the bathroom with one of the teachers in tow. She turned to me and announced loudly, ‘I did a poo, Mum!’ and promptly wandered off.
‘Ace,’ said one of the dads who had followed me in, and gave me a thumbs up.
I went outside and was immediately swarmed by half a dozen small children.
‘Hi – can I hold your baby?’
‘Why does the baby have a dummy’, ‘What’s the baby’s name?’ ‘Es que su bebé?’
‘C’mon let’s GO!’
‘I’ll hold your baby while you go and get her.’ Keep in mind, it’s a three year old saying this, not one of the teachers - a three year old covered with dirt and boogers and lunch. They are literally swarming us. They are touching the Mop, grabbing her dummy, pulling her curls and tickling her feet. The look on her face is sheer terror mixed with resignation (this happens every week).
‘NOW,’ I scream like a crazy person.
We then need to wait while the Bombshell hugs all her little friends’ goodbye.
Before we can leave she decides she needs to do a wee, so I plonk the Mop on the mat and give her a truck to chew. Naturally this is when the whole class is herded back inside, so now there are dozens of small children chucking blocks at the Mop as the Bombshell dithers around in the toilet.
‘Where is she?’ asks the Bombshell’s grubby little friend.
‘Here’ the Bomb says wandering out of the toilet with her knickers around her ankles and a wodge of toilet paper stuck to her bottom.
‘Please, hurry UP!’
Miss Curly Mop has started to cry hysterically so I swoop in and pick her up just before one of the kids manages to stick her dummy in his mouth.
‘Which sink should I use?’ muses the Bombshell, and together she and her friend stand and discuss whether it’s better to use the one in front of the mirror (so you can look at yourself) or in front of the window (so you can look at everyone else). They choose the mirror.
I drop to the floor in front of the bag shelves and while I balance the Mop on one knee, start stuffing the Bombshell’s artwork into her backpack. She thinks this is a good time to start explaining her pictures:
‘This one is whirly whirls. Whirly whirly whirly, like this Mum, whirly whirly. And this one is round and rounds, like this, round and round and round, and this one is circles, like this…’
We make it out of the classroom, but still need to run the gauntlet to get back to the car. First she needs to say goodbye to the chickens, all eight of them. Then she needs to sing to the plants and show me all the veggies they are growing. Then we stop under the EXIT sign so she can read out the letters.
‘E-X-I-T. I read it Mum!’
Then we have to say goodbye to the fish (thank God there are only two left). Finally, an eternity later, we make it outside. The fresh air manages to quell the rising hysteria, but only slightly, as I realise we now have to walk past a dozen cars and the Bombshell will want to read the licence plates of each and every one.
‘Is this your car Mum? 1AUT235. Is this your car Mum? 1DBR776. Is this your car Mum? 1CMY096…’
It’s not finished.
When we actually reach the car, the Bombshell insists on buckling her backpack into the front seat, and she won’t accept any help. (Have you seen a three year old try to pull the seatbelt out far enough to click it in to the buckle? It makes your eyes bleed with frustration.)
Finally, about a millennium after I set out, we are back on the road and heading home. It’s usually now that I look at the Blonde Bombshell in the rear view mirror and ask her about her day. She hunches down in her car seat and refuses to talk to me. She has nothing to say, after gabbing on for half an hour and talking to the eight chickens, and her thirty thousand friends, and the two fish, nothing left to say. So I breathe a silent sigh of relief and drive home.
Just to do it all again tomorrow.