Given the title of this column it would be fair to assume I was going to proceed with making jokes about “your Mum”, but I’m not going to do that … Your Mum told me not to. And besides, I’m going to salute Mums everywhere. Especially insofar as they are the writers of notes to our teachers.
I remember being a spectacle-wearing, chubby, drama-geek in school. For me, at that point in my life, there was no torture greater than P.E. class. Physical Education, as far as I was concerned, was Board-of-Education-speak for “the class designed to separate the fat, uncoordinated and/or asthmatic losers, from the kids who are WINNERS and always will be”. Groan. It made me actually feel ill. The days when I knew I was going to have to squeeze my ample, pubescent rear into a swimsuit, or crack my glasses against my own face due to missing ANOTHER ball, made me actually want to die.
Now, of course, as an adult, I understand the importance of physical activity, training and sports. Now I’ve come to understand the joys of pushing your physical endurance, and building your confidence as a result. Now I know why they make athletics compulsory in schools.
However, my current knowledge of what’s good for me does not mean that I don’t vividly remember the thrill, the utter smugness and sense of righteousness, when I had a note, from my Mum, excusing me from P.E. … Oh my stars!
Now, my Mother isn’t an idiot and she wouldn’t write me a note just for the heck of it. There had to be a reason. But once every month or two, I was able to produce a truly solid case against my inclusion in sporting activities. It’s true, there were half-truths in the stories of affliction I presented to my Mum. However, I maintain, the conviction that enforced sporting activity was going to kill me, was very, very real.
I digress. As I said, there was a pomposity that was reserved for those moments when I was able to brandish a freshly-inked note from my Mother about why I wasn’t able to participate. I remember the depth of justification I felt. The blamelessness I felt. I was NOT FIT for gym-class, or Phys Ed, or sporting of any kind, and we all knew it. My gym-teacher would invariably scowl at me, loathing my loop-hole prowess, as I thrust the note forward and exclaimed, “I’m not allowed – Mum said!”. But teacher couldn’t do anything about it. Mum always trumps Teacher when it comes to rules – everyone knows that.
So here’s the thing: every now and again life will throw a PE class at me. Not literally of course, I’d love a PE class now, I pay a Personal Trainer for Christ’s sake. But once in a while, I get that same feeling I used to get before a gym class. That sinking-stomach nausea. That anticipation and dread. I just. Don’t. Wan’t. To. Do. It … And I don’t want to do whatever it is, really badly!
At these times, I want a note from my Mum. Still.
Please excuse Georgia from meeting her deadline today. She tried to meet it, she really did, but ‘Boston Legal’ box-sets do not watch themselves. Again. And she needed to clean the house like an OCD patient on meth.
Dear Utility Provider,
Please excuse Georgia from paying her bill. She had some shoes that were going to improve her entire life, so she had to buy those this month.
Please excuse Georgia from attending your event, I won’t let her.
Please excuse Georgia today, she just can’t. Not today. You understand. Maybe tomorrow, we’ll see how she feels.
Lots of love,
… And, like I said, I feel completely justified in my need to be excused. I really, really need to be excused. I’m not kidding. It’s making me unwell.
Actually, my understanding of the dire need for notes from your Mother, leads me to the following promise:
If you write your name below, tell me what you need a note to be excused from, and to whom it should be addressed, I’ll write you the note! Yes, I’ll write you your very own note, explaining why you can’t. You can take that note to the relevant parties and enjoy the delight of unimpeachable lack of participation! Because the truth is, sometimes, you know best what’s going to be bad for you. And you just need someone to be on your side.
Dear Reader’s Boss,
Please excuse Reader from work today due to a desperate need to read everything ever written by Georgia Keighery.
2 comments on “A Note From Your Mum”
Look Chet, life is a quite different experience for other people. Your mother has always been such a sweet, kindly, loving and indulgent parent, and such was the tone of her notes. My mother’s notes said “This boy is very bad, beat him some more. A lot more. (They weren’t allowed to say “this little shit is a sadistic bastard, he should be electrocuted, nailed to a bandicoot, have his limbs eaten off by fire-ants and deep fried is sump oil”. That sort of thing was not acknowledged in those days, even though it all happened.)(Regularly.)(Read the reports.) So I dreaded the correspondence between teacher and parent, it involved plots, punishments and pain for me, and a few shivers of delight for them, as they dreamed of more offences which would attract severe penalty, stopping just short of amputations, barbed wire and soldering irons.
In those days, most kids knew that the only thing better than a low profile was no profile. We had no defenses and very few weapons. Kids are too lightweight in the literary sense to wield irony or innuendo or litotes. Resorting to incontinence was a two-edged sword, unless there was a lot of planning about the timing. It was too easy to spend a whole evening very close to your own shit or vomit while the parents and teachers slept with dreams of sleek cars and cocktail parties. By the time they were jarred out of their reveries the crap was sometimes baked on, uncomfortable and unpleasant to remove. No, most all we could do was wait and look for opportunity. We didn’t have power tools, you see, and the gas tap on the stove was at the top, out of reach. Even if you climbed on a chair most weapons required strength to activate. Sphincters were about the only IED’s in our reach.
So am very glad about how benign your notes were, and how they warmed your coddled life. But please be aware about the other notes, it may help you understand how some of us have turned out.
Your own Uncle
I don’t want to deal with a particular “Dance Mum” this evening. Any chance I could get a note?