Rogue Bassoons and Soggy Weetabix, by Georgie Tennant

In September, we embarked on a new season in parenting: both our children now attend the local high school, a bus ride away from our home. Basking in the new-found freedom from wet, windy school runs (you could set your clock by the three-o’clock-downpour), on my days off, I can now remain decadently pyjama-ed until after the children have left the house. On a Wednesday and Thursday, though, both myself and my husband have to leave for work at 7:30, leaving the children with the weighty independence of having to lock up and leave the house, alone at 8a.m. In reality, Son 2 leaves at 8 and Son 1 at 8:10, on the understanding that he has much longer legs and it isn’t the done thing to arrive at the bus stop with your younger brother. Thursday is complicated by the sheer number of bags required by the youngest to equip him for his day: on top of his ordinary school bag (if you have ever seen a Year 7 child at high school, the bag is often bigger than them), he has to take his sports kit for a P.E. lesson and his mini bassoon (which isn’t mini at all) for his music lesson and after school band. After his first experience of walking to the bus stop and carrying the aforementioned luggage on the bus and nearly giving himself a hernia, Son 1 reluctantly agreed to assist in the future. On the Thursday I am about to describe, my husband and I left the house, shouting luggage-related-reminders to our offspring. All was well – or so we assumed. At the end of my work day, upon collecting the boys from their grandparents, who feed and water them weekly, there had been much drama. Son 2 had left for the bus, laden by P.E. kit and school bag, reminding Son 1 to pick up and bring the bassoon. Son 1 readied himself for take-off, bassoon in hand…before it occurred to him that he was missing his blazer. Completely perturbed by the fact that his blazer was where it was supposed to be, rather than hanging on a door, chair or banister, he eventually found it and rushed out of the door…minus the bassoon! In the words of Son 1, Son 2, upon seeing his brother approaching the bus stop minus the bassoon, “went mad.” I can only imagine. Thankfully, Son 1 went into problem-solving mode and, realising a phone call to either working parent would be futile, rang his Granny, who was quietly having her Weetabix. Bra-less and sporting a rather interesting hairstyle, Granny saved the day, leaping into her tracksuit bottoms and crocs, driving up to the bus stop, getting the key from Son 1 and heading to our house to rescue the missing instrument. By then the bus had gone, so the rogue bassoon was driven the 3 miles to school and reunited with its grateful owner. Arriving home, by now three-quarters of an hour later, my valiant Mother, having saved the day, sat down to eat the soggy remains of her Weetabix. I did point out, that, at that point, I would have perhaps scraped that one into the bin and started afresh. “But it had lovely, fresh fruit on it!” she replied. Despite the fact that Son 2 still enjoyed a rant about the forgetfulness of his older brother, we all had to admit that we couldn’t be cross as his fast-thinking problem-solving did the trick. And it gave my Mum a story to dine out on with her fellow child-caring-grandparent friends for months to come. Aside from this being a (hopefully) enjoyable story and a fascinating window into my family life (school-age-children parents smiling, I’m sure, in empathy, and empty-nesters feeling relieved these days are behind), it made me think about how our writing lives can be just like this. We make careful plans and contingency plans, figuring out exactly how / when / what we are going to write, on which days. But occasionally a rogue bassoon stops our plans in their tracks. This might be because inspiration simply doesn’t strike just because we’ve diarised it. Or a small child or elderly relative has a sudden bout of sickness, calling us away from our WiP.  Family and church life and the need to earn money to pay the bills can tear us away, leaving us staring into the soggy Weetabix of our abandoned creation. Like my Mum, though, perhaps the soggy Weetabix isn’t always as much of a write-off as we fear. Though we haven’t been able to sit down and enjoy it in the timescale we’d hoped, and the texture and flavour feels less appealing than when we left it, perhaps we can still pick out the fresh fruit from within the soggy mess and find something we can still run with, when the crisis has averted and time allows us to write once more. As the New Living Translation puts it so well, "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps," Proverbs 16v9. Georgie Tennant is a secondary school English teacher in a Norfolk Comprehensive. She is married, with two sons, aged 14 and 11 who keep her exceptionally busy. She writes for the ACW ‘Christian Writer’ magazine occasionally, and is a contributor to the ACW-Published ‘New Life: Reflections for Lent,’ and ‘Merry Christmas, Everyone.' More recently, she has written 8 books in a phonics series, published by BookLife. She writes the ‘Thought for the Week’ for the local newspaper from time to time and also muses about life and loss on her blog:

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