"Hey darlin, would you like me to teach you how to play the piano?"
Half an hour ticked by. Our touring group were outside under a shady tree, eating sandwiches and fruit, chatting and laughing. Sapphire and I, on the other hand, were trapped.
I'd struck a new low: having my ten year old daughter liken me to a mentally-deranged man in a stained overcoat who wanders the streets swearing and yelling his life story at people.
And no, I didn't steal the lemons. At least, not yet.
You know the sort; those mothers who are always there to hear kids read, attend excursions, run the sausage sizzle, collect donations for raffles and coordinate the quiz night. Always immaculately dressed with late model SUVs, bendy-pilates/private-trainer-toned bodies and an Osh Kosh baby on one designer-jeaned hip. Even after five years, I was never a contender, just a willing slave. "Oh of course Diane, I'll paint the entire set for the class musical and make a pot of soup to share and keep the string instruments at my place during the weeknights and clean the Axylotl aquarium, make jewellery for the craft stall and write that Public Art Water Saving School Heritage Celebration State grant that you'll be taking to the next committee meeting....."
These days, I waddle up to the school and it's not the dog that causes other folk to avoid me: it's my sticky witchy woman hair, puffy eyes and morning breath that singles me out as a Mummy Mafia Member gone AWOL (or, in reality, me just out of bed and in my running gear). And I kind of like it that way.
My 'editing and proof reading' assignments. I'm particularly proud of my delaying tactics here, seeing as I haven't submitted any work to my tutor since October last year. Stuff such as a trip to New Zealand, my mother-in-law's death, GFC affecting the sale of our house for over three months and our move to Melbourne has meant that I had a few other things to occupy my mind other than what silly symbol means 'shift one space to the right and change to Times New Roman font sized 12' when written in red pen alongside the offending row of text, zzzzzz.......
Making a PAP smear appointment. I'm hardly alone in putting this one off and each time I've eventually gone, it's always with dismay to discover that the female doctor I asked for when booking the timeslot is away sick or at a health conference and I'm stuck with Dr Checks or his curmudgeonly equivalent and wondering just why he's forgotten to shut the blinds when I'm up on the table with my knickers stretched between both ankles staring between my knees at passersby and traffic on the road out front. These old locum war horses are also the types for whom empathy disappeared in around 1967, and think that 'bedside manner' means reminding you of the suffering of other (presumably long dead) medical freaks: "I don't know what you're so uncomfortable about. When I was in the far east during World War II a poor woman had a Durian growing up there and we didn't hear a peep out of her." Thanks, that helps you know, as would a BIT OF DELICACY, SOME LUBE AND WARM GLOVES, OKAY BUDDY?
Emptying the bathroom bin. It's not like the kitchen bin with its orange peels, coffee grounds, glad wrap shreds, pencil sharpenings and pongy old dog food tin lids, it's worse. It's filled with disgusting items that tend to fall out and stick to my top when I'm shaking it into the wheelie bin - fluttering threads of discarded dental floss, mouldy band aids, yellowing cotton buds, leaky toothpaste tubes, toenail clippings... Not to mention the weird grey fluffy hairy stuff that seems to have sprung from our own invisible Mr Snuffalufagus when he secretly shakes himself in our bathroom.
Washing the car. This hasn't been done since 2007 because I'm saving water, see? And now that we don't have a driveway or carport and the station wagon's out in the street, it gets periodically sluiced by the rains. Unfortunately there are times when, if the angle of the sun is right, I can see some rather rude words that passing high school kids have written with their fingers in the murk on the windows, but better that than a spray can on our fence...
Inside the car it is admittedly a bit dusty. The airline sick bags I stole last year are tiredly drooping from the car door pockets and Sapphire's plastic sick bucket is mostly a rubbish bin these days but they might - along with the dog hairs affixed to the seat covers and ancient shopping bags in the back - put off any aspiring thieves (who would clearly be affected by illegal substances) if they had an eye to nicking our 1996-model cassette tape player or Club Lock security system circa 1987.
Picking up Milly's poos. This actually doesn't take very long; maybe a couple of minutes to scan the lawn and the tiny front strip of bark chips to see where madam's butt nuggets have landed this week. No, my biggest fear is that the nappy bags won't be able to hold the weight of the, er, matter inside and a finger nail will carelessly pierce through and be squidged into a nice, ripe and moist, um, nugget. When you hear an anguished, "Oooooooo! Ooooooooo! Ooooooooo!" from where you live, you know it's due to a faulty bag in far-off Flemington.
Cleaning out Skipper's hutch. Bless the silent little fella but he backs out bunny beans like a sub machine gun and sprays the inside of his bedroom with something that, whilst technically called 'urine' is more like a stinking, acidic nasal hair and super glue remover. It is astonishly acrid stuff and even more vile when it soaks into several layers of newspaper and hay and is left to mature for a few days. As for Skipper himself, despite producing such substances he remains blindingly white and super clean, so I'm assuming that his excretions are like his portrait of Dorian Gray hidden up in the attic.However, all of these tasks will get done eventually. Maybe not before Sapphire starts high school, but some day.