The Mangler

Remember how I told you about time and how it doesn’t seem to work for me? Well, that was kind of a lie.  We certainly have our differences, of that there is no mistake. It’s clearly at fault for hurling distractions at me, preventing me from doing the things I said I would do, like clean the gutters or go through my wardrobe and discard every pair of holy underpants. But I can’t lay the blame on time for everything. In this case, despite the general busyness that having a small child creates, my inability to throw words at a screen has more to do with laziness rather than time. In fact, laziness and a willingness to give in to procrastination are two things I'm particularly adept at. Unlike blogging... or parenting as it were. But more on that another time.

For it's time to get back to the main point of this tale. I used to have a five-year-old. I say used to. It's not like I lost him. Not exactly. You won't find a furry, sugar encrusted preschooler wedged between the cushions at the back of the couch. No. But you won't find a five-year-old in this house. Not any longer at least. Because my five-year-old is now a six-year-old... shit he's almost a seven-year-old and that means I've been lazier than normal. Think about that for a moment - goddamn that's a lot of hyphens. 

So anyway, now that I've established that I'm really rather shit at this, there is something I want to get off my chest. 

Parenting is goddamned hard work. There. I said it. It's not all cuddles and giggles and colourful sweaters (that particular memory is a little weird now anyway). It opens you up as if you were a bloody Christmas turkey, shoves its giant mitts inside you and stirs all the gooey bits inside until you feel so vulnerable you want to cry and laugh and drink as many White Russians as you can. And that's just the school run. 

Let me tell you about the modern day school run - it's stress that no one needs. No one. It begins the moment you start looking for a car park and gradually snake your normal, average, reasonable-sized car through a labyrinth of shiny black four-wheel-drives that seem to sneer at you as you crawl past them. And after the first thirty minutes or so, with the petrol steadily leaking from your tank, you finally manage to shudder your weeping, envious vehicle into a vacant spot roughly 10kms away from the school gate. 

The next step is to make your way to an area of the school yard where you're both in view of your child but also out of view of pretty much everyone else. Especially the mother who knows every other mother and always makes an effort to talk to the fathers. Whatever you do, stay away from her. You'll recognise her when you see her. Every school has a mother like this. I call them Manglers - in reference to Mrs Mangel from Neighbours - and just like Mrs Mangel, these must have a desperate need to get all up in your shit, especially when you're a dad.  

Because you see, the school run is a sea of mothers in yoga pants talking about things that seem to have no real meaning, like Pete Evans' impossibly tanned skin or the art of ruining every single dish in the world with kale, and then there is always roughly twelve dads standing awkwardly alone, trying desperately to not be caught in said conversation about kale.  Fathers at the school run are a rare, exotic thing and therefore must be integrated. 

So what can you do to get away from the Mangler? You hide goddamnit. That's what you do. Remember your training - you know, all those Bourne movies - and do your best to skulk in the mottled shadows beneath the many, MANY shade sails, peering intently at your phone like you're doing something important until that bell rings and the thunderous, rapturous cacophony of a million children floods the yard like a frenzied swarm of locusts. Then you wade through the waves of backpacks and oversized hats, knocking kids to and fro until you find your kid's backpack and bam - the ole snatch and grab - you whisk him away before the Mangler can corner you and torment you with her shrill, manic hell beast bellowing... oh God boy, run, quickly, she's getting closer. RUN! And then you hightail it to the car and the hell out of there until the next time your wife/partner/significant other can't make it.

So um... yeah... the school run... and parenting. Tough stuff indeed.