Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Super Mum: a legend in her own briefcase

On Saturday morning, it was my turn to get dressed (instead of taking one's time, reading the paper, sipping coffee and having breakfast) and take young Sapphire to her PeeWee Tennis lesson.

It starts at 8:30am, which is only fifteen minutes earlier than her school day but it feels so much earlier and as though it is much more difficult to get there. It seems that the younger the player (of any sport), the earlier they must start. Heaven knows what dark dawns any under-fives must have in their chosen field of exercise.

Anyhow, the requisite number of kids and parents always seem to be able to get themselves organised enough to turn up each week. There are no benches for us spectators to sit on, so we lounge about under the gum trees or against the tiny little perma-pine hut. That is except for the parent(s) of two brothers, Connor and Jesse, who are in Sapphire's little class of four. Every week they are dropped off at the edge of the court by someone who is always obscured by the tinted glass on their mercedes which then roars off in a squeal of tyres on dead leaves.

An escape in the jerk merc for only half an hour, mind you. How busy can a person be to not be bothered to watch and wait around for half an hour whilst their two children learn how to play tennis? What on earth can you do in thirty minutes, give or take ten minutes of travelling time? If it was a desperate need to find a decent takeaway coffee and come back to watch then I suspect that all parents would be able to identify with that one; or if they sat there with a newspaper and occasionally looked up to give the wee one a wave and an encouraging smile. Most importantly, however is the opportunity to see their kids eagerly thwacking forehands onto the cricket oval and backhands into the coach's crotch which is an experience worth much more than the personal sacrifice of 1800 seconds.

This Saturday was different, because Connor and Jesse's mother actually bothered to find a parking spot and sit on the grass at the edge of the court. I gave her a small smile in a generic, "Hi fellow Mum, aren't our kids adorable" kind of meaningless way, which she ignored. Unless the sun was in her eyes, which I hope it was for my own ego's sake (she might have seen me alight from my dusty and dinged mitsubishi station wagon, thus denoting my place in the economic and social pecking order of Eastern Adelaide).

Super Mum then proceeded to whip out a few manila folders, a fluoro marker and a pen and start reading through them, totally engrossed. A minute or two later a ball rolled near her and her eldest boy Connor ran to retrieve it. He saw her head bowed in concentration and whined, "Mu-u-u-m, are you working again?" before running back to the lesson.

As with my greeting, she either didn't see/hear or decided to ignore him. Perhaps she was under a great deal of pressure in her job and needed to get an important government project completed by dawn's crack on Sunday. Maybe it was the final plans for an air and water-fuelled car that would rock the petrol industry, or the blueprint for the first production line of fat-free, fibre-filled chocolate from the Lindt factory. Whatever it was, it must have been an extremely vital reason that could explain her complete impermeability towards the behaviour of her horrible sons.

Every two minutes, the coach would patiently-yet-exasperately call out, "Jesse, Jesse, Jesse.....are you listening? We don't hit other people with our racquets," or "Connor! Connor! You mustn't run across the other court - they are trying to learn how to serve.......No, you also mustn't throw balls at people - that almost got me in the eye."

Did Super Mum look up? Not once. If she was embarrassed about the behaviour of her boys she wasn't showing any signs of concern or discomfort. That file must have been pretty compelling reading because - for the sake of sodding sesame seeds - why on earth was it so important to spend from 8:30 to 9:00am working on it? On Monday mornings does she trot into work full of her own self-importance, wittering on that she took her boys to tennis, thus presenting herself as a hands-on, involved parent? "Wow, look at Super Mum. She's here from 5am to 9pm and she's a devoted mother."

Back to the trying tennis lesson. Sapphire and the other kid, Jacob, soldiered on. Both were models of good listening, trying new shots, practising and helping. Devil spawn Connor and Jesse were relegated to running around the courts with the grey pick-up pipes collecting all of the stray balls. "Great shot, Sapphire, you've really been using your feet well and are keeping your eyes on the ball." Before she could reply (and before my eyes could fully mist up with pride), sweet Jesse decided that she deserved a dong on the noggin with the pick-up pipe. "JESSE! That is NOT sporting behaviour! If you do anything like that again you will have to sit out the rest of the lesson!"

Sapphire was OK but naturally frustrated. By now, it was not only my eyes that were on Super Mum, but everyone else's - there was no mistaking whose kids they were. Jacob decided for a moment or two that it might be cooler to muck around with the two devil's darlings, but his father quickly intervened. He stormed over to the court, grabbed his shoulder and had a fairly intense whisper into his ear which immediately brought Jacob back to the Jedi side of the force. Connor, on the other hand, was now attempting to kick all of the plastic shot markers out of Sapphire's range. "Connor.......Connor, please stop that. We need those to make sure we aim in the right place. Connor!"

Still SM's head was down as she was on her mobile discussing the file with someone else. That's right, someone else who had nothing better to do first thing on Saturday morning. There was a real sense of dismayed camaraderie amongst the rest of us parents (including those with kids on the other court and the other side of Sapphire's court) as we continued to swap more and more exaggerated glances and expressions of horror with each other.

It was then it came. Perfectly timed. Beautifully hit by a non-PeeWee, the fuzzy green ball sailed right over from court five all the way over to court one. With a vision sensor that could only have come from divine intervention, it went D-O-I-I-I-I-N-G right on top of Super Mum's head. She dropped her mobile phone in surprise and none around her made any effort to hide their laughter. We all knew that it didn't injure her, and it might have been the reality head tap she needed in order to look up and over at her children instead of down into her file and her own navel.

For the first time this whole summer, I was glad when Sapphire's lesson ended so that she could escape from the boys that dogged her lesson. After hugging her tightly and congratulating her on her behaviour and good work, "OK Mum, OK, OK, you can let go of me now.....," we met up with Love Chunks for a mid-morning brunch/coffee/cake/lunch thingy. Nothing but family's worth doing on a Saturday morning.


Anki said...

Lovely post!! Totally hilarious..
hahah.. "divine intervention" it sure must have been

Anonymous said...

Give the supermum a break!
Go supermum Go!