For the “school year people”, like myself, that exit the UAE the instant the last school bell rings in June and don’t return until the day before school starts, it can feel like punching time. Similar to working in a job where you feel under-utilized and under-stimulated, you can seek small solace in the fact that you can play Solitaire behind the bosses back or at least catch up on your emails.
So every September offers the opportunity for a re-birth, a second coming so to speak, the punctuation marking the end of one year and the beginning of another and all the best made resolutions that are associated with the opening of a new chapter. Having a penchant for over-estimating myself, I set myself some pretty tough targets for the coming September – June term.
Target number one, I would not enter into road rage and I would refrain from using expletives at every and any junction, roundabout, slip-road etc, with particular abstinence from expletives when the children are in the car. Haphazard driving would not cause me to see red, literally, instead, I would view the experience as part of the overall course of living in the Middle East, I would be entertained, amused and most of all, calm behind the wheel.
Target number two, I will become the perfect parent, forgotten P.E. gear, lost swimming hats, mouldy lunchboxes, torn shirts, cracked iPads, crocked laptops, overflowing laundry baskets, unmade-beds, unrecognizable bedrooms, and the non-replacement of an toilet roll in the bathroom would no longer instigate world war three, resulting in everyone cowering in various corners cos mom’s gone crazy again. Instead, I would embrace these happenings as beautiful hiccups in parenthood. I would smile, tut and tousle their hair lovingly, reassuring them that mom had it all sorted. I would exude an aura of calm and the house would be filled with a Zen-like atmosphere.
Target number three, to rejuvenate my tired back garden, making sure to water the scorched grass morning and night in the hope that it would come good, I would become green fingered, I hoped by Christmas, to be a regular user of the line, “My garden is my solace, it’s where I spend all the time”, one would need to witness the bleak state that my garden is in now in order to fully appreciate the scale of this ambition.
It was morning number three back to school and all was good, Zen hadn’t exactly arrived fully but crazy had left the building. I was taking the time to catch up on some emails while the children prepared their bags for school. It was then I heard the niggle begin of children arguing. It was a mislaid locker key. I bowed my head at the computer and tried to drown out the voices but my keypad was too expensive and so the silence did nothing to help me ignore the voices, which escalated rapidly. Twenty minutes later than scheduled we left the house, arriving at the school just at the most trying time for the rush for car park spaces. I pulled off road and switched to 4 wheel drive for the sandy dunes which were the new school car park. I could see the perfect parking spot ahead and in the bouncy suspension of the 4 x4 we clambered towards it. Just as I was about to pull up, a large black Hummer halted in my pathway and started letting out kids, like Smarties from a box, they just kept coming! And my ass was causing massive obstruction as a result. ( I would clarify at this point, when I say my ass, I mean the back of my car, while my own ass is far from pert, it would not cause a road blockage) the horns blew loudly behind. Several hand gestures, expletives and retaliated horn blowing later, I topped off the morning by loudly adding that if the locker key wasn’t mislaid, we wouldn’t be late and in this situation.
I returned to the garden, I grabbed the hose with one hand and played Solitare on my iPhone with the other. I was still on course for target number three.