Friday, June 18, 2010

The Double Drop-Off

July Column for Practical Parenting Magazine

There is a secret language spoken only by parents. We start learning it as soon as that little wee-stick shows two blue lines, and it contains strange phrases like ‘mucous plug’ and ‘stomach-muscle-separation’ and ‘perineal massage.’ After the birth, it adds concepts like ‘trampoline-induced-incontinence.’ And once our little people are old enough to spend time in the company of others, the phrase ‘double drop-off’ enters our vocabulary.

This is not to be confused with the southward journey knockers can take after breastfeeding, but to the preschool/daycare/big school loop we must start driving once the children come of age. Ivy is spending Thursdays and Fridays at pre-school this year and Teddy, on Fridays, is entering the world of family day-care with Wayne (whom I like to call his manny.)

The actual dropping-off part of the process is painful, even when I can hear the crying stop before I reach the door. As I drive away alone, a little part of me (OK, a big one) is shouting ‘Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I am free at last!’, and yet, that first solo latte is tainted just slightly by the acid bile of guilt eating away at my stomach lining, no matter how many times I compulsively check my mobile. If my phone does ring my heart stops and my brain says ‘Appendicitis! Head injury! Random pre-school shooting!’ And then I pick up and my mother says ‘Your father is doing my head in with this EBay business.’

Our new weekly rhythm is an adjustment. The babies must get along without Mum, and I have to re-learn that when alone in public, grown women don’t usually talk out loud: ‘Ooh! Look at that mans hat!’ or sing a rundown of what’s next on the daily agenda to the tune of ‘Do You Know the Way to San Jose.’ Most importantly, I can’t grab and kiss the sweet fat legs next to me every time I feel a surge of love. Ladies don’t like that in Bi-Lo, I’ve found.

In practical terms, I must start preparations the night before because I am enthusiastic, rather than organized, and it takes me a long time to infuse all my love and affection into lunch and morning tea. Mummy can’t be here, kiddos, I want these little packages to say, but she loves you very much and she made you a blueberry muffin with special powers to dry tears and repel bullies. Bag-packing is more layered and potentially disastrous than a Middle East peace summit. Hats. Sunscreen. Spare clothes. Lunch. Morning tea. Water bottles. Special toys. Dummies. Nappies. Forms and letters. (A deep breath. Two aspirin. A nice lie-down.)

Once I’m on top of the bag-packing, the last step is learning the new social rules. To be honest, I’m a little off in that area so far. When saying hello to a new mother on the path last week I accidentally sneezed and farted at the same time. But it got worse. Just this morning, I was bent over into the car, strapping Teddy into his seat, when my fisherman’s pants undid themselves and slid to the ground. Other mothers may handle this aspect of parenting with poise and glamour but for me, it seems, the double drop-off equals twice the chance to do the mothers walk of shame.


  1. Will I never learn? No drinks whilst reading Rachael's blog. Such a simple concept, yet so absurdly difficult to recall...

  2. I really enjoy your columns for PP, I'm just really slack with the commenting thing.

  3. Faaaaaaaaaarrrrrkkk you make me piss myself laughing ( re fart/ burp/ fisherman pants situation)

  4. Oh I do love this, where do I start??? from the clarification that the double drop off did NOT refer to our lady lumps heading southward to the tear and bully repelling muffins to the ladies in BiLo to the sneezing farting greeting - you had me hanging on every word and laughing with recognition (and tears). Mamma Mogontosh you are the bomb. And you have so nailed it with this one

  5. Wonderful post, all too relatable (sure it's a word). All too familiar with the double drop of both kinds :)

  6. Love it, Totally relate! And have you ever found yourself out and about with some adult company (and no kids/husband) and you go "oooh look, there's a dog!!! Woof! Woof!"... and then you realise too late, and they just look at you like..... WTF????!

  7. It is cruel of you to write such an hilarious post when you KNOW that most of your devoted readers suffer some form of incontinence. Would you mind coming around to clean up the puddle?


Thanks for talking to me. I don't got cooties. Oh, except for when I got cooties.