Just before half term, it was The Daughter's 'Valentines Disco' at school. I've never really been involved in those sorts of things (other than dropping her off looking reasonably presentable, and picking her up an hour later looking like a sweaty mess. Her, not me.) but being the dedicated parent I am, I offered my services to help out on the night. 'How much work can it be?' I thought, 'I'll just be standing around watching a room full of 5/6 year olds flinging themselves about to cheesy pop songs and making sure any whirling-induced vomit puddles are cleaned up before anyone skids on it''. Oh, what a poor naive soul I am.
As I walked in, a flashing and very professional looking DJ rig was set up at one end of the school hall, and at the far end was a couple of trestle tables groaning with carbs, fat, colourings and sugar. An organisy-looking woman marched up to me with a clipboard, told another helper she was on toilet duty (which was not received well) and informed me I was on the tuck shop counter. I rolled my sleeves up, went to my post to familiarise myself with the price lists, and waiting as the throngs of exciteable kiddies poured through the doors.
And the rest of the evening was nothing but a blur. I remember going in, and then an hour later there I was - a sweaty, nervous wreck with a pounding headache. From the second the tuck shop opened and solidly for an entire hour, there was what can only be described as a sea of tiny trendsters all thrusting coins in my face, and dozens of grasping hands dipping in to the boxes of Freddo's and Poppets. There weren't many who knew what coins were worth what amount, so I was having to rummage in tiny silver purses to count out 25p in pennies, and shout others back for their change after they'd handed me a pound coin and walked off, too desperate to get into their Flumps to wait.
I was stuck in 'Mum' mode, and had to bite back from saying "Are you sure you've not had enough?" to those who had consumed enough sugar to warrant Dr Christian Jessen emerging from behind a curtain with giant posters of leg ulcers and rickets. The Daughter came behind the counter holding hands with one of her friends who felt sick. "Maybe you should stop eating for a little bit and just sit down to cool off for a bit?" I suggested. "Ok" she said, as she threw a handful of Mentos in her mouth and then went back to the dancefloor. Ah yes, the dancefloor. The only thing that distracted my attention from the crowds clamouring for sweets was the sight of 50-odd small children gyrating away to 'Sexy and I know it' in a way more suited to a Gypsy wedding. There was a lady standing at the front who worked with the DJ, and every time a well known song they came on she would teach them the dance moves. Not that they needed it! As they all did the dance to 'Gangnam Style', shouting the words in unison, I stood - jaw wide open - thinking How the hell do they know this?! I resolved at that moment that The Daughter was to listen only to Disney songs until her 18th birthday.
To round off the night, we ended with a display of fireworks. And by fireworks I mean a tantrum from The Daughter, after I gently suggested she save the rest of her Love Hearts for the next day. Anyone would have thought I'd just made her choose between setting fire to all of her clothes or shaving her head in front of the entire school. In summary, it was one of the longest hours of my life. And next time (if there IS a next time), I'm volunteering for toilet duty!