If I wrote an update, each paragraph devoted to a single topic, I’d have Delphine go first. Her end-of-year assessments are this week, which means we’ve veered from panic to confidence to tiredness and back again. Structure has left the room – it’s been exam, submit and back to bed with a sort of exhausted dread. Never mind Delph, have I coped well? Not really. I confiscated her devices today for the rest of the summer (see if I can make that one last) when she complained non-stop about taking Fin for a walk and then stepped on the edge of my flip-flop and sprained my foot. My flip-flop broke too. Well, actually it was Lulu’s flip-flop. Anyway, the point is that she’s on her devices way too much. At first she was reading on her iPad, but now she’s started watching TV in the middle of the day. The exam thing may be stressful for her, but she doesn’t get to sink into a depression either. I read recently that home-schooled kids have an ‘endless tunnelling curiosity’. I really liked that. Does Delph have it? Sigh. School-wise she still slinks off – more than I wish she did.
The other part of me wants to dream. I could spend time imagining. Imagine this: today I made Lulu a batch of popcorn for after school. She and Delphine were going to Amalie’s house and I knew Lu would be hungry. We had very little food in the house (that she likes) – bar one pack of microwave popcorn. Sorted; cooked, put in tupperware, we waited in the car park outside school. We were by the path in the shade waiting for Sarah to pick the girls up when Lu started giving the popcorn away. A groups of girls took a few pieces, giggling. The boy in the group deftly stole the box out of Lulu’s hand. The last thing I remember was seeing his big, probably dirty hand grabbing a huge handful of my popcorn. After this, it gets a little hazy.
‘Hey, get your hands off that popcorn!’
He looked over – and I remember his jaw did drop when he saw my face. Not that it stopped me – my first outburst should probably have been enough, but I was in too deep now. Plus his fist was still full of white kernels. Some of them were falling on the ground. I yelled at him, ‘I didn’t make that popcorn for you to take it all!’
I saw genuine fear in this teenager’s eyes. Full disclosure too – I liked that sprinkle of fear. ‘Sorry,’ he said. His hand deflated downwards like he wanted to put the popcorn back.
Too late. I kept side-eyeing him until Lulu came back into my frame of focus. ‘You have really embarrassed me, Mum.’ Each word had metaphorical full stop. ‘He was flirting with me.’
She was holding the popcorn box again. I looked at its depreciated content and shook my head in confusion. ‘That’s flirting? Stealing your popcorn?’
‘Yeah, Mum, that’s flirting.’
‘But he stuck his hand in and took a huge handful of popcorn. That wasn’t cool.’
‘Neither was you shouting at him like a psycho.’
I looked at Amalie and Delphine for confirmation. Unfortunately, they didn’t disagree with Lulu.
‘Well, maybe it was a bit of an overreaction but I don’t like bullies.’
Lulu said, ‘He isn’t a bully Mum, he’s a just a boy. And he’s nice.’ With this she sighed and began walking to Sarah’s car, who’d just pulled in.
Oh. Right, I thought. Good thing I imagined this situation.