I have, in spite of my persistent jokes over the past four and a bit years, created a child in image and likeness of me.
Yesterday morning, like most mornings, was a hassle to get out the door. I'm seldom punctual, but for work, I like to be on time so I can sit with my friends and recount funny stories over tea and ciggies and the word 'fuck'. So come 6.45 am, I am usually waiting outside the door loaded up like a carthorse yelling for The Daughter. Yesterday morning was no different.
I looked like an escapee from Burundi: I had, on one hip, a box of marking that weighs more than The Daughter herself. Precariously balancing thereon was The Daughter's school bag (termed 'the Jo'burg bag' because it has wheels - bought with the intention of her ferrying it to and from the car - although, to date, I do not remember said intention coming to fruition.) Dangling off various other body parts were a) The Daughter's lunch bag, b) The Daughter's juice bottle, c) The Daughter's ballet bag, d) the shared overnight bag (because I had a late day of debating and being cultural that The Incubator was begged into assistance), e) my own lunch bag (and I'm fond of lunch, so not a light container) and, for good measure, f) the handbag.
I am a mother. My handbag holds an immense amount of useless stuff. On any given day you might find within it an old toothbrush, toys, half eaten Fizzers, a single shoe (the partner of which is hidden in the depths of domestic hell, with my vintage pearl brooch), probably my vintage pearl brooch, a screwdriver, 8 Spur sweets and a computer/Kindle/cellphone/iPod charger. With adapter. Oh and a spare pair of little knickers. And socks.
And so I stood outside, looking somewhat like one of those African buses with a plethora of livestock in make-shift cages atop, tapping my foot and yelling:
The Pant: The Daughter! Please hurry! Mom's going to be late.
The Daughter: I'm coming!!! I'm just teaching Cat how to do ballet.
(Cat is a long-suffering one. She adores him. And so she tires him with her endless play. Cat is sometimes a baby in a pram, sometimes a human in a dress, sometimes a ballerina. She tires him so much, in fact, that the other night he vomitted on The BF's dining room table. I tried to suggest it might have been her cat, but she saw the look in The Daughter's eyes, the beads of sweat formed on her brow and knew that it could have only been our Cat.)
TP: You can teach him to do ballet after school. Hurry!
TD: But Mom! He's nearly got it. He's almost on his tippy toes.
I peered into the house, and there, true to her word, was Cat strectched out like warm sucked fizzer, on the tippiest of his claws with a face of dissatisfied resignation.
TP: Leave him! He doesn't want to learn ballet now. You can teach him after school. But I'm going to be late.
TD: Just five more minutes. He's nearly got-
TP: (stern tone) NO! Outside now.
And then it happened. She turned into me.
TD: Uuuuuurrgghh, Mom. You. Are. Driving. Me. To. Drink.
TP: (suppressing a giggle) I'm sorry but you're making me late. Now leave Cat and hurry up.
TD: What did you say to me? Is that the way you should be speaking to your daughter?
This parenting thing is a strange, um, cat. It's like looking in a shrinking mirror.