People ask me what is it like with three children, and how we are all coping. 'Coping' is rather strong to describe our state of being from dawn till dusk on some days, but I usually reply cheerfully,"Oh it's utter chaos!" as if to suggest that although I don't have a minute to myself it is all jolly-bedlam-in-a Darling Buds of May type-way.
It reached new levels of absurdity though as I did the school run yesterday. Gilby and baby in tow, I noticed that some of the other Mums were giving me quite peculiar looks, focusing somewhere above my forehead. I reached up to find that a rather conspicuous pair of onion goggles was perched up there. "BUT I'VE BEEN MAKING CHRISTMAS CHUTNEY!!!!!" I wanted to screech (for the first time ever, actually, but nobody needed to know that bit) "AND I GOT CARRIED AWAY AND THEN WE WERE NEARLY LATE SO I HAD TO RUSH OUT OF THE DOOR..."
Instead I hastily removed them, smiling and nodding as if they were the latest fashion accessory but I really didn't like to show off. I then got chatting to another Mum whose daughter only arrived at the school a couple of weeks ago since they just moved to the area. I mentioned that Gertie talked about Lucy quite a lot, and hoped that she was settling in well.
"Oh yes," she replied. "And it's so good that Lucy gets to play with all sorts of children now." She must not have noticed my horrified look as she continued, "In our last village everyone was so nice, but here there's a real mixture..."
"ALL SORTS????? ARE YOU SUGGESTING THAT MY CHILD IS NOT 'NICE'????" I wanted to screech out, for the second time in about two minutes.
I know there's been much discussion of school-gate snobbery of late, but perhaps I'm overreacting. Maybe her perception of our family results from the slightly manic look and frequent desire to screech out loud that I seem to have recently developed. Or perhaps it was just a reaction to the onion goggles.