Aw do I have to? Whyeeee? Alright alright ALRIGHT! Context, whatever.
So a few months ago I was at the local Toy Library, because now I’m the President I have important stuff to do there. You know, like naming our elk, and quality-testing plasma cars, and supergluing Strawberry Shortcake’s head back on because her neck is impractically flimsy. I also point at things, a lot.
Anyway, Fiona said, “I’ve gotta go soon. I collect Macey from school at three.”
At which point, my thought process went something like this: “Bo collecta! Makin moves yeah on the dance floor – what IS that song? I wish life were a musical. Then I could bust out the tunes and funky moves and people wouldn’t think I was crayzay. Re rewind. When the crowd say bo colleeecta. Crunch. Grindgrindgrindgrindgrind CLICK! FUUUCK!”
Because it was then I realised I’d forgotten to pick up Finn from kindy at 14:30.
I squealed out of the carpark on a dense cloud of burnt rubber. When I flung myself into kindy half an hour late, all the chairs were upside down on the tables and Finn was sitting dolefully on the floor with his backpack on.
“Sorry!” I gasped.
“Don’t worry, it happens all the time,” said the ECEs kindly – but I refused to be appeased. I mean, I bet they say that to all the parents.
He probably had a better time there than at home, where there’s no playdough and he’s not allowed to stand on the sofa- ok look, there’s no way to make it better and I’m going to feel guilty about abandoning my child until my dying day.
So there’s the context: past, present and future.
Last week I was at the Toy Library, when I looked at my watch and it was-
“FUCKING TWO THIRTY!”
“Have you forgotten your child again?” asked Maria. I would have challenged her about the unnecessary emphasis she placed on the last word – I mean, I’d only forgotten Finn once – except I was thrashing it out the door.
I was only five minutes late and trying to gallop elegantly up the path when I met my mate, Maxine.
And her son, Q, said, “Hello, Niamh! What are you doing here?”
“Hello, Q! I’m here to pick up Finn!” I said, as if I were speaking to a four year old – which, in fairness, Q is – but also I admittedly gave Maxine a look conveying that perhaps she should spend more time doing some cognitive development role playing with her son because what the fuck else would I be doing there?
Then Q said, “Finn’s not at kindy. He doesn’t come on Tuesdays.”
While Maxine rolled around the ground laughing, realisation achingly slowly dawned that both my children, Finn and Saoirse, spend Tuesdays – pretty much all of them since Christmas – with their dad.
You think maybe that incident cancels out the other? Yeah no; I’m still dealing with thermonuclear levels of enriched, weapons-grade guilt. I imagine on my deathbed, saying: “Hey everyone listen up because this is my dying breath so it’s obviously pretty important – hey you! Put down the sausage roll and have some fucking respect! Dying breath, here! Ok anyway, look, I won’t draw it out much longer, but I really want to say this: I have no regrets in my life except that time I forgot to collect Finn from kindy: Son, I’m sorry! I’m so very, very sorry!”