WHAT did you do about strike day then? Take a day’s holiday or ring in sick? Go to work as usual and leave the kid/s with relatives? Take a day off unpaid? Go to work and pay £20+ for childcare?
In fact, wasn’t it much like one of many teacher training days, when we have to run around trying to work out where to put everyone?
It was only seven-year-old Billy who found himself with a random day off in our house. Bonnie went to
nursery, and Jed and Dougie’s two secondary schools didn’t close, much to their disgust.
It wasn’t half as dramatic as the school strikes I remember in the 1980s. Back then the strikes were frequent, sometimes three days on the trot, occasionally half-days (which meant a full-day if you lived out in the sticks and had an hour-long bus journey each way) and often random.
For example, I remember not being able to do any sporting competitions or training at a point when I was Sport-Billy-Hilly, because the teachers wouldn’t supervise any extra-curricular activities. Maddening.
The strikes dragged on and the teachers lost a lot of public sympathy, but the Teachers Pay and Conditions Act was passed in 1987, paving the way for a lot of the deals that today’s teachers wouldn’t have otherwise had.
So do strikes work? Yes, maybe, sometimes, but not without a great deal of public discontent, often fuelled by misinformation.
Meanwhile, away from the moaning placard waving educators and whining envy of private sector workers, I took a day off and Bill and I formed a plan for what we would do with our day alone together, a rare event. Any suggestions had to involve leaving the house.
“Go to a toy shop?” he asked, hopefully.
No. It would be better still if you think of something that doesn’t cost any money.
“Erm . . . go to the cinema?”
Eventually, after much negotiation, we ended up at, er, the shops.
I know, I know, but Billy wanted to use his own pocket-money to buy some weird wristband things that he’s seen his older brothers wearing. After his cash ran out I needed a coffee and somehow ended up with milkshakes and cake and a £10 bill from the aptly named Costa. Ouch.
Then we found a huge sale on at Blacks and I bought far too many pairs of shoes for the men and boys of the house (although more than half price). Double ouch.
And with only a short time before Bonnie needed collecting from nursery, we had an emergency stop at MacDonalds.
I should point out here that any time we eat at MacDonalds it is because it’s an emergency (ie, we have run out of time to eat anywhere else).
I have the middle class paranoia that if I feed my offspring MacDonalds I am a Bad Parent. I refuse to call it a ‘treat’ because it’s just not.
I stubbornly boycotted MacDonalds for 12 years, until Bloke and I were stranded on holiday in France and the only place open to feed our squawking toddlers was La Maison de MacDonalds. It pains me to admit it was a delicious breakfast.
From that point on I felt a complete hypocrite. Especially as it was usually my bad parenting which literally drove us back time and again for Happy Meals (and fresh coffee) that you don’t even have to get out of the car for. MacDonalds is Prozac for the disorganised.
Billy and I did have a lovely, materialistic and expensive day together,which he was quite happy ended with wrist-bands, burger and chips and a weird Panda mask.
Next time though, it will be cheaper to pay for the childcare. . .