We had an unexpected house guest last weekend.
When I collected Finn from school on Friday, he had a tatty toy with an acute case of glaucoma clenched under one arm. “Teacher said I could have it for the weekend!” he said. Molly the Morepork was a hand-puppet which could rotate her head a full 360+°.
It was only when we got home that I discovered a scrapbook in Finn’s bag entitled ‘Molly’s Diary’.
The front page stated: ‘Hi, I’m Molly and this is my diary! You can write in here about what we did, or paste some photos or draw some pictures! Thank you for having me!’
Er, you’re welcome?
I mean objectively I can appreciate what a terrific idea Molly’s Diary is: it’s a great way to get to know Finn’s classmates and a bit about their families; introduce a new kid; find out what sort of activities there are around the place; and it presents a great learning opportunity to discover more about the taxonomy and habitat of Ninox novaeseelandiae via stuffed toys or something. But since Finn can’t write much more than his name, age, ‘dad’ and ‘mum’, it was effectively homework for me.
“What the fuck am I going to do with her?” I hissed at Husband on Skype. He was off with his dog for the weekend blasting away ducks, an arrangement so convenient you’d almost think it was planned. Which I suppose it was; but it also had the rancid stench of conspiracy theory, like the staged moon landings. Yeah right so I’m supposed to believe the shadow in the photo frame is not a boom mic but instead some sort of wild lunar poodle? SURE.
“Look at this,” I muttered, holding Molly’s Diary up to the iPad camera. “The level of hospitality- it’s unrealistically high. This fucking morepork has been abseiling, tramping, biking, water-skiing . . . look! She toasts marshmallows over an open flame! Jesus Christ, is that Molly with Graeme Norton?”
“You just want everyone to think Finn’s life is awesome,” said Husband.
“NOOO,” I snapped. “I just don’t want anyone thinking Finn’s life totally blows. You know, like: wow Finn watches a lot of telly, poor child mustn’t have a bike. Does he eat anything other than porridge? The thrills. OMG I can’t handle this pressure!”
And I mightn’t have believed him had he said something like: “Sweet Cheeks, our family is almost illegally awesome and you are going to crush it,” but it would have been better than just LAUGHING.
Husband seemed happily oblivious to the obvious: if I fucked up the Molly’s Diary initiation test, Finn would be eating his porridge sandwiches in the corner of the playground, ALONE, FOREVER.
In the end, I did my best. Which is all you can do and the lesson I prefer to extract from this whole exercise. Although I diligently took photos of Finn and Molly, our printer had until recently been in storage and on Sunday evening Husband provided telephone support as I linked it to my laptop. We had a sum total of two blank sheets of paper in the house and I – inexplicably – managed to print the photos across BOTH sheets in a sort of T-formation.
I finally finished my homework at about midnight on Sunday, and Finn added some pictures the following morning. I only gave him artistic direction twice.
Maybe three times.