Now, I love a good enrichment slash bonding slash wholesome activity as much as the next mum. But when it comes to December, and I’ve got a job list as long as my fucking leg, I can do without the bolt-ons. 

I’m talking about the pre-school mascot bear, who has landed over the Chez Mouse Moo threshold for a week’s holiday. Welcome, hi there. I pay good money for childcare, and when I say good I mean an eye-watering sum, even after the “free” government funded hours have been credited to my bill. I pay this aforementioned good money because I don’t have the time to look after my own child every day. There, I said it – #sorrynotsorry. 

So to be honest, I don’t really have the time for the bear either. He’s a lovely bear, not smelly or nuffink, but he sits and waits and his eyes are glazed with the memories of a thousand holidays with other families…better holidays, with better families. I can’t do this bloody bear justice. In fact, here’s a list of occurrences where my ineptitude rendered me a truly shitty holiday host. 

I got his name wrong. 

“Here’s Adventure Bear!” said my husband in a faux American accent, as he welcomed the bear indoors and showed him where to find the tea and coffee making facilities. “Fucking roll on.” I muttered under my breath. It’s DECEMBER and we move house in a month and I go back to work in a month and there’s Christmas admin and the house is a mess and and and. 

I fired off a quick photo upload to the pre-school’s online journal that night to say that Adventure Bear had enjoyed a bedtime story and was looking forward to a good rest after his journey. The response came back first thing: “So glad Peter is settling in well!” Peter the Bear. Of course.

Mouse, Moo and Bear reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Sorry Peter. Everyone deserves a name.

I didn’t realise he had a suitcase. 

It wasn’t until late on Day 3 that I noticed a small blue hold-all with Peter’s “If found, please return to…” label, lurking under the dining table. What the fuck was this? Spare clothes, that’s what. Bollocks. So not only did I get his name wrong, I also put him to bed IN DAY CLOTHES on Nights 1 & 2. The shame of it. His wardrobe was a little eclectic – including a pyjama top, a natty jumper and shirt combo, some random ghetto pants, and a rather fetching light aviation leather jacket. Oh, and one Jesus sandal. 

Peter's wardrobe - including a gliet, navy joggers, pilot jacket, shirt, trousers, and one shoe.

Hurriedly, I mocked up some staged shots with a few quick outfit changes, like London Fashion Week in a Primarni corner of Southampton with bad wingy eyeliner and not a fan machine in sight.

Sorry Peter. No-one likes sleeping in their 9-5 clothes.

Our activities are shite. 

Did I mention that it’s December and I’m both penny poor and time poor? Ergo, our “special days” are rather low key. A typical Thursday will see us feed the ducks at the park, have an indoor picnic, and wang up to Waitrose for a free coffee. A typical Friday is ditto, but with French class. Oui oui, c’est Lingotot! Anyway. We took Peter to have a regardez-vous at the canard, where Mouse held him in something of a headlock as she tried to simultaneously lob hunks of stale crusts at the ducks, while not falling in. I just stood back and took a photo, obvs.

Mouse and Bear feed the ducks

Sensing that I needed to max out on the montage photography, Mouse suggested that she hop up onto the nearest bench for a cuddle shot. I noticed just slightly too late that some kind soul had scrawled “Jez is a cunt” on one end of the bench, hence this jaunty angle and croppage. You show me that leaf, poppet. No need for cunts to blight your innocent horizon just yet.

Mouse and Bear on a bench at the park

I did, against my better judgement, allow Peter to be dragged along to French, where to his credit he got in amongst it as we trilled along to Les Roues de L’Autobus. Mouse even gave him a musical instrument, look.

Peter the Bear at Lingotot

Sorry though Peter, for the whiplash and cunts.

When our activities were good, I left him at home.

Do you remember a few weeks back I fucked off up to London for an overnight jolly and drank all the drinks and ate all the Barclays sweets? My husband used this as his main bargaining chip when floating the idea that he might go to Newbury Races for a weekend. This cheerfully coincided with not one, but TWO birthday parties, lunch with the in-laws, and a morning at the local pottery crafts shizzle emporium to make Moo a First Christmas bauble. Dear Reader, screw you if you call me weak, but I couldn’t handle solo parenting one toddler, one mobile baby AND a sodding bear. Because I WOULD leave him behind, or drop him down the toilet, or scrape a chair leg over his understuffed, wan little face.

So I told Mouse that Peter was going to stay at home for a little snooze, and hear alllllllllllllllll of our stories when we got home.

Peter Bear

Sorry Peter. I didn’t even leave the telly on for you.

I let the novelty wear off after five days.

I had a Keeping In Touch day at work on Day 6 and there was plenty on my sodding plate with all of that, so I offered no wonderful last day or goodbye meal with cigars ‘n’ cognac for Peter. By now, we were all a bit sick of each other and I was brooding because I’d got wind of another mum, at another pre-school, doing a scrapbook of memories for her bear. My Mum Guilt shot up a few notches at this and I conceded that if I couldn’t beat them, I’d bloody well stop trying.

Sorry Peter, you just had bad timing.

Could’ve been worse though…

Pre-school have a tank of Giant African Land Snails. Shudder.

-SJW December 2016 (Sorry for the C word. Not Christmas. The really bad C word.)