S02, Episode 3: Explore
One of the wonders of homeschooling is the lessons can be over in a few hours and you can choose any activity to be 'educational'. Valuable when you are at the mercy of Scottish weather.
So up and out into the weak spring sunshine.
'Mummmmmm! Where's my unicorn horn?!
I had thought the unicorn phase was past and we were firmly in wolf mode. Oh! God! Please, please, fucking pretty please, tell me I didn't throw it out! I'm certain I did.
'Have you looked in your drawers, Lily?' Must. Buy. Time.
'Mama, where are we go?' Daisy comes through wearing head to toe tinfoil.
'To the zoology museum at the University.'
I am greeted with a blank stare.
'Stuffed animals and things...'
The tears well. Oh shit. One child has the tenderness of a tank and the other wants to hug bees because they are so fluffy. I forget to moderate my approach sometimes.
'Yassss dead animals!! Do they have jars with freaky bits, entrails and eyeballs?!' Lily seems to have forgotten the unicorn horn.
Daisy throws a ball of tinfoil at Lily.
'Why are you wearing foil, darling?'
'Lily wrapped me.'
'I was going to cook and eat her.'
Is it really bad to want wine at 10 am?
Eventually, we head to the University. Aberdeen isn't a large place. Bound by the North Sea and two rivers there isn't much urban sprawl. The city centre can be traversed easily on foot, even by small children.
The University is in the innovatively named Old Aberdeen, an area of cobbled streets, decorative sandstone buildings and an impressive dome-crown topped college. It bustles with students and tourists.
The students play dodge with the girls as they hop-scotch their way down the high street. We detour into a shop stuffed with antiquarian leather-bound books and the delicious smell of coffee. Lily is in heaven, she is an avid reader and this bookshop hints at adventures, potential wizards and other beings lurking among the shelves. Daisy is spellbound by the array of clocks behind the counter. There are clocks of all shapes and sizes and the gentleman behind the counter is delicately dismantling one.
I find some momentary respite from the continuous stream of questions. I do wonder about my sanity in taking on the homeschool project.
Most of the time in the zoology museum is spent averting Daisy's gaze away from the more gruesome items. Trying to work out how realistic are the poses of the rather moth-eaten taxidermy. Lily loves every minute of this place and announces her intention to become an explorer and taxidermist. Starting I suspect, with her sister.
I show Daisy some shells, hoping I will be saved from the agonising enquiries - whether they were killed and what about their families who would have been distraught at the loss. She has an overload of empathy for every living creature.
There is a yelp.
'A unicorn horn!' Lily is in raptures. A narwhal horn of an impressive length is on display.
'When I get home I'm finding my unicorn horn never taking it off.'
Must. Not. Panic.
Any parent who has ever discarded a child's toy they thought had been grown out of will know my agony. She hadn't mentioned fucking unicorns for about 6 months. Not one peep. So chucking out a glittery plastic unicorn headband, that was a little worse for wear, seemed logical. I forget that child-tyrants have no bloody logic.
As we are strolling in the botanic gardens I wrack my brain for a solution. Where the hell was I going to find a replacement within the next few hours? I didn't fancy my chances of surviving a shopping trip unscathed. The last time I took them both into a toy shop Lily made a girl cry by telling her that Barbie dolls were a construct of the patriarchy. And Daisy wouldn't leave until the assistant assured her that My Little Ponies were being fed and cared for in a humane manner.
Sitting in the sunshine Lily gallops around complete with neighing noises and Daisy is talking to the flowers. I resort to texting Ross to explain the predicament. Two clueless adults are better than one, right?
I buy myself more time by taking the girls to lunch. I find pizza for them and a fortifying glass of wine for me helps in most situations. There is something strange happening with my energy levels, ever since the move I have been exhausted. Surely being nearly 40 cannot be the problem! Then I remember I have two boisterous kids, a business to run and a whole new life to put together. That's why wine is good.
My phone rattles to an incoming text. Ross is pulling up blank on sourcing any unicorn horns. I’m also worried that if it isn’t the length of the 4ft narwhal one she might rebel. Diversion can be the only solution. Until I can order one online - thank the maker for next day delivery!
After a flurry of texts, orders and confirmations. I announce that Ross is coming for dinner. This is met with cheers and excitement. They have rather taken to him and I'm sure it's nothing to do with the piles of treats he brings. Or not entirely.
I don't know if my children are particularly shallow and easily distracted but whatever the reason, Lily didn't make any mention of the unicorn horn. When the next day's delivery arrived it was a glorious surprise and bonus points to Mummy. Hell yeah.
The 'Mummy is the bestest Mummy' sentiment did last long. The next night after having a fun star-gazing walk we got locked out of the house.
And then it started to snow.
Apart from Emma and Ross. All other names have been changed for privacy. This memoir is set in the city of Aberdeen, UK but I have altered some of the place and business names.