The Inspection

My daughter’s juffie (teacher) is coming over to visit. We haven’t done anything unusual to warrant a home visit. Or at least I assume we haven’t – growing up in an English inner city, a home visit would be something to ring alarm bells, maybe we’d have been flagged up onto the social-work radar. Maybe they’d be checking we didn’t have 25 flea-ridden dogs sleeping in the children’s beds or weird voodoo dolls hanging from the ceiling.

No, in my daughter’s school it is standard issue. The juffie pays a visit to each child in the final year of kleuter (infant) school. A has been looking forward to it for weeks. Her cheeriness though hasn’t stopped me from a near fatal panic attack and a nail-biting few hours trying to tidy up the house and get rid of the smell of mould that suddenly seems to have permeated every open plughole, because let’s face it – she’s coming for a cup of coffee and a chat – but underneath – she’s coming to check me out! There’s no two ways about it.

After I deliver A to school, I walk back home holding S by the hand trying to hurry him past the slide, so he won’t insist on playing.

“Just going to do a little wipe round and polish!” I joke with another mum outside the gate.

“Oh yes” she says “you’ve got the teacher visit today”

“ha ha” I’m smiling like it’s just another day. ..like I’m not phased at all….la la la…

Then I get to my front door. The first thing I notice is the dog shit, which someone has so kindly allowed their dog to deposit on the pavement outside our house during the night. This happens very frequently and so far we haven’t caught the shady little gremlin who obviously must hobble out of their gremlin-lair and snigger at us while their mutt shits outside our house in the dead of night.

Not what I need today. I remove the shit into a nappy bag and throw it away. Then I decide I must dead head and water the pot-plants. After I’ve pulled back a load of sodden rotting leaves I realise our bikes look shambolic, so I line them up along the window a bit more neatly.

We go inside. I am greeted by rice crispies on the floor and a smell of mould.

That’s it. I’m going to have to let S watch some TV for the rest of the morning, so DVD in. S doesn’t seem to mind, “yeah telly” he says and punches the air in victory. He plonks onto the sofa with his bunny in his mouth.

I clean up the breakfast carnage, hoover up the rice crispies and start ridding the toilet of the stench by using a mixture of vinegar, bleach and jasmin room spray, but it’s no good I can still detect l’eau de mould.

I poke my head back into the living room, S is still glued to the TV so I’m safe to go upstairs for a minute.

I run up and manically start chucking things about, snotty tissues in the bin, rancid socks in the laundry basket…in the end I cut my losses and grab everything I can see and head into my bedroom. I have to push my way in past the 2 bikes leaning against my wardrobe to get to my bed. I pile it all up and shut the door behind me.

“Mummy!” S is calling from downstairs.

The DVD must be finished. He’s been watching TV for about an hour and a half now. Shall I stick another DVD in? No this is really lousy. I’m sure the juffie wouldn’t be too impressed with my parenting today.

“Ok” I say “lets put some pictures up”

I open the cupboard and retrieve a folder of A’s drawings that we were given at the end of last term. I’ve barely looked through it. We have an alcove in the living room that’s covered in the kid’s artwork. It looks a mess. I pull down withered looking frayed old pictures and start replacing them with newer ones. OK, that looks a lot better. There are also portraits she made of all of us which I’ve been meaning to put up for ages.

I have actually bought some clipframes so now I’m just going to do it. It’ll be easy. I line them up along the hallway…shit…

“Quick, wellies on” I say to S

We have to run out for some nails.

We’re back and I measure out the nails along the wall. My measuring system consists of judging using the length of my forearm – elbow to wrist so they probably won’t be straight, but I decide, it’ll have to do, the wall’s not straight either. I can’t be bothered to go up to the attic and look through the whole toolbox, so I ask S to get me a hammer. We rummage through his toys and find 2 very small wooden toy hammers. I bang in the nails with one of the hammers and then lift up S so he can pretend to finish the job for me.

“Well done, you’re very good at hammering!”

I hang the pictures but one of them looks lower than the others so I take it back down to see if I can bend the nail up a bit. The frame slips through my fingers and glass shatters all over the floor.

“Oh god, nooooo. Stay there, don’t move, there’s glass.”

S is only wearing socks. I remove him to a safe distance, sweep and then hoover for good measure. Sod it, I’m going to just hang that picture without the glass cover.
By the time I pick A up from school I’m shattered too. She waves goodbye to the juffie excitedly.

“See you soon!”

Half an hour later, juffie knocks on the door. A opens it and as they walk into the house she points to the portraits in the hallway. Juffie smiles,

“Wow, that’s lovely” she says.

“Do you want to show juffie all your things in your play corner?” I say directing her over to the alcove with all the updated artwork.

A complies. She points at a few things and chats. She seems so excited to have juffie there, she’s squirming around.

Juffie sits on the sofa and I go into the kitchen to make the coffee. I can hear A nattering away incessantly.

“Here are the films that I watch” she says opening the cupboard. She proceeds to describe the entire plot of Madeline, her latest favourite film.

“Yes” I interrupt from the kitchen “I do let her watch TV, mostly to practice her English”

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One Comment on “The Inspection”

  1. Expat Mammy says:

    Good rescue! Hope it all went well


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