Children have a way of cutting you down to size. There was the time Youngest said, “Mummy! Your boobs look really droopy when you do that!” as I lent out over the bath to wash his hair. Or when Middle One told me how much he loved his “beautiful” nursery teacher, Elaine, and I stupidly asked, “so do you think Mummy is beautiful too?” “Of course not.” He replied.
So I wasn’t particularly surprised when Eldest pondered out loud at the dinner table one evening last week that he had absolutely no idea what I was going do with myself once Youngest left primary school. “Quite soon you’re going to have no life at all, Mummy,” he said, hitting that particular nail on the head with a crash. Thank you darling. The thought had occurred.
At the moment the primary school is punctuation in my otherwise free-form life. It provides a start and end to my working day; my closest coterie of friends from its seemingly endless stream of lively, intelligent mummies (and daddies) and a rolling itinerary of events, from more prosaic Friday morning assemblies and afternoon teas, to glamorous Friday and Saturday night discos, parties and quizzes, the most memorable of which was the PTA Stars in Their Eyes evening, one of the best nights out I’ve ever had. (Which isn't saying much but should in no way detract from how good it was).
Indeed, as Eldest made his remark I was just sallying out of the house to the Christmas shopping evening and, as a Class Rep, I’m currently selling tickets for the forthcoming comedy night (hosted by local celebrity Arthur Smith, don't you know).
So, although it may be a bit soon to start panicking, (Youngest still has the best part of three years to run) Eldest is right, of course: I am aware that a deadline of sorts is looming even if it is still a little way off. Perhaps deadline is the wrong word...watershed? I was even more aware of it after I went to see Clocks, a film that was showing continuously until recently (it’s just finished) at the Glass Cube Gallery off Piccadilly.
Clocks is a film lasting 24 hours consisting a series of very cleverly cut clips from hundreds of movies that happen to reference time, either visually or verbally, running exactly to real time itself so that it too is a clock, of sorts. It’s very, very clever, I might even say, brilliant. Not only are the clips wonderfully edited to make a beautiful whole: a piece of moving art, but the continuous, minute by minute reference to time and the passing of time with endless clocks and watches and alarms, creates a sort of profound shared experience. It's a commentary on the transient nature of life (no less!) and its meaning seemed to build as it went on.
When I saw it, it was lunchtime so, inevitably, there were hundreds of clips involving lunch and eating. Among many other things, it made me think about how much time is spent preparing and eating food, especially a mother’s time.
Paradoxically, I didn’t have much time to stay and watch it because I needed to eat and get back to school to collect Youngest at 3.15. I hope to be able to see more of it again one day. Perhaps when Youngest leaves primary school and I have more time on my hands.
P.S. It's not an accident that lots of words are in bold. Did you get it? Husband didn't.