Just to put the previous post into perspective, Friday’s commute home was so bad and is still so vivid an experience that it’s only now late on Tuesday evening that I can blog. It all started to go wrong when Eve lost her beloved tiny toy caterpillar in between the seats of the bus and I couldn’t get it out. I tried really hard and a new measure of my love for my children is that I willingly stuck my finger into the accumulated gum and other foul debris under the seat and I did this for a full fifteen minutes. Eve’s sobs became louder and louder and two tough looking boys in hoodies moved seats to get away. When the bus screeched to a sudden halt and the bus driver got out of his cab I immediately thought they must be the cause. The driver yelled down the bus, “Oi, you, is that your little boy pressin the ****!!!!!@@@@ bell? I don’t know whether I’m comin or goin. If he doesn’t stop right now I’m not movin and everyone’s @@!!!*** gettin off”
Because I was occupied with the caterpillar rescue I hadn’t noticed that Leah was repeatedly pressing the stop bell. I managed some feeble outrage about her being a girl but the collective chagrin of the passengers meant that my apology had more grovel than derision. Red faced I carried on trying to retrieve the caterpillar whilst yelling at Leah not to touch the bell. I had a panicked moment of thinking my finger was actually stuck and I might have to ask the bus driver to help me get my hooligan boy/girl twins off at our stop. Eve’s sobs were emptying the bus and I had to tell her the caterpillar had decided to make a new home on the 176 bus. “Nooooooooooo” she screamed with despair. We got off a stop early, the humiliation was just too much, worse even than the commute when Leah pulled my skirt off.
Got in, scrubbed my hands and then tried to have a serious talk with them about acceptable behaviour. Leah cried when I told her that she might get a lifetime ban from London transport. Felt utterly depleted as a parent and dreaded having to take them on the bus again. Actually tonight they were mannerly and charming and passengers were actually complimenting me on my well-behaved flash card reading children. So that and Sunday’s petit trianon of a day has restored my parenting equilibrium.