John McCullagh December 1, 2005
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Dear Agnes,

My grand-daughter’s usual childminder will be unavailable for two weeks from Monday next (winter Caribbean holiday, apparently, with her fancy-man – or whatever name they put nowadays to these reprobates!) and I have been designated to ferry young Penelope to and from school.
 

I was hoping you would give me the low-down of the correct etiquette for speaking to her teachers – and more vitally, to other parents. I am at least a generation ahead of them age-wise, and light years behind them in every other way.

What can I do to ‘fit in’ and how can I prove I have the best interests of the young girl at heart?

All at sea,

Cillia Oldall

 

Dear Cillia,

How you speak and with whom is scarcely the point! It’s how you look! 

Invest immediately in a few designer outfits.

Indeed, while you’re at it, get some new ensembles for yourself too!

Book appointments with your beautician (you’ll get a list in Yellow Pages, if you don’t know what I mean!) for every third day.  Likewise with your hairdresser and manicurist.

Borrow (and if you can’t, then HIRE) a SUV – [it stands for Sports Utility Vehicle, silly!]

You know, the ones that look like fortified armoured tanks, with bull-bars fitted front and rear. 

Bounce it up on the footpath to block the school gates morning and afternoon. Then spend some ten minutes there, talking (or pretending to) on your G5 mobile phone while adjusting your make-up. Only then must you venture to accompany your little charge into the school playground.

In the unlikely event that you be accosted there by another parent (they are too busy acting as you too are now doing) you must adopt a haughty air and glazed expression. Affect a high-pitched voice and complaining tone and rant along the lines of ..

‘I really must talk again to Ms Smythe (the headmistress) about Penelope’s progress – or rather lack of it, in her extra-curricular pursuits. She’s just not being stretched enough in those Grade-5 oboe lessons.’

Inside, affect the cheesiest grin you are capable of, ignore the teacher as best you can (don’t even take under your notice any lower-order staff like caretakers) and adopt a ‘must-fly: pressed for time’ attitude.

Never, ever, ever enquire about Penelope’s progress. Why would you want to know? If a progress report is offered anyway, redouble that cheesy expression and consult your wristwatch (Gucci, of course!).

Whisk young Penelope out and into the SUV. Glare accusingly at other drivers who have dared to park on YOUR footpath. Drive home.

Remember all this and you’ll survive till the traveller returns, all golden-tanned and rested.

 

Agnes

 

 

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