A dirty great trip to school


Today I had a phone call with Tokyo at eight in the morning, and as it’s Friday it’s also my turn to take La Serpiente to school, for nine.

Now, if I were both super organised and super lucky, I would conclude my call at 8:30, scoop her up from the living room floor at 8:31, stride straight to a lift that was waiting for me, get down to the third floor exit, get down to the road just as the pedestrian lights signal to go, cross the road to the bus stop … and still miss the bus by about five minutes.

Knowing all that, I called a taxi, and then La Serpiente and I went down to the car park and got in.

Well, that was sort of what we did. As La Serpiente has a mind of her own, I had to walk along holding her hand to encourage her onward, and I made the mistake of letting her free hand be near the taxi, which was mostly filth-coloured with occasional flashes of yellow glimmering through. We got into the taxi and I saw that she had a palm that looked like it had been covered in soot, and she was trying to rub her eyes, and although there were nappies galore in her school bag, I hadn’t packed anything to clean her down with like a wet wipe. Truly amateurish parenting here.

Somehow we got to school without her wiping grime across her face (it helps that she didn’t have to walk to school, so we didn’t have the usual ten minute negotiation/tantrum/end of days wailing that happens on half of my school runs). I gathered her up, took her down to the toilets, squirted pink soap onto my hands, rubbed it onto her hands (which were looking suspiciously clean by then, as if she’d somehow absorbed the dirt into her skin via osmosis), then rinsed her hands, and then realised that there was nothing in the toilets to dry her hands with, apart from the front of my trousers.

I’m so glad no one else was around to see a middle-aged man getting a small child to rub her hands on the front of his trousers. Lord only knows what memories she’ll recall in a few decades’ time.

Surprisingly, after all this incompetence and panicking on my part, she waved goodbye to me quite happily and ran into class, On my last two times that I’ve taken her to school (well, almost every time since I started) there’s been a wailin’ and a gnashin’ of teeth as dear old Daddy tries to palm her off on her teachers, so perhaps the combination of a very dirty taxi and soap in an unsuitable toilet is the kind of thing that makes her content.

Oh gawd. That sounds even worse than the whole trouser thing.

With stained trousers and a heavy heart, I headed off to the office, fortunately catching a taxi so I actually arrived less than 15 minutes late for work, and not bathed in the sweat that only sitting at a bus stop in tropical heat can provide.

The rest of the day was a blur. Well, it was Friday at the end of another ridiculous week, and I was only at work for another nine and a bit hours before I got to go home with a thumping headache, spend an hour trying to get La Serpiente to actually go to sleep, and then spend the final part of my day relaxing by taking the Singapore Exchange’s quiz on the trading of financial instruments. Because that’s how I roll…


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