I’d heard a lot about carpooling – an arrangement that lets you off the school-run hook two or three times a week, then bites you in the bum the rest of the time (you know what I mean – dragging multiple children and their bags, lunchboxes, art projects and PE kits to the car, and driving them all home through traffic while keeping up the pretence that you’re a ‘fun mum’).
I was so relieved, to be honest, that there was an excellent school bus service to BB’s school – organised by some like-minded mums in our compound who also didn’t want to spend their days schlepping backwards and forwards. There’s even a bus nanny on board, who three nannies ago, my older son developed a school-boy crush on.
The sensible thing to have done would have been to put my younger son in the same school, and on the same bus when he’s a little bigger. But, this is Dubai, and when is anything as logical as that?
Long story, but LB goes to a different, much nearer school, which frowns on buses for young children, has a car park the size of a hankie, and at which traffic congestion and parking are really stressful (it brings out the worst in everyone, and I wasn’t surprised to see police there recently marshalling the mummy-buses).
It’s a real headache – hence the carpool I’ve entered into.
Yesterday, I was upstairs when I heard my French friend’s car pull up with LB inside. She opened the car door, and the wailing wafted upwards like a siren shattering the peace on a quiet street.
A couple of startled birds who’d been pecking away in the climbing plant outside the window took flight.
It wasn’t LB, but her son. And I instantly knew LB was the cause.
I met her outside as she struggled with the bags, the snack box and the tortuous crying.
“What happened?” I asked, really concerned.
“Oo-la-la,” she said, through a forced smile. “He’s just upset because he vants to be a ‘beeg boy.’”
I looked at my normally sweet LB. His defiant eyes met mine. “He’s not a big boy,” he declared. “I’m the BIG boy.”
He measurably grew as he sounded out the words ‘big boy’, then to prove his point pronounced: “He’s only three…”
“And I’m four!”
Yes, LB, but it’s really not a good start to our car pool if you make your co-rider weep, it is?
And, I’ve a horrible feeling [she says, wincing at the lack of etiquette] that he might have called him a ‘baby’ too – the ultimate insult.
It’s my turn this afternoon, and there’ll be withering looks and reprimands if it happens again. I enjoy the days when I’m let off the school-run hook too much to risk this carpool going tits-up.