Umbrellas and Tennis

It was not a happy Monkey I dropped off at school a little while ago. It’s raining really hard, really pissing it down, so we had to take umbrellas. The problem? They are Tottenham umbrellas, and Monkey is an Arsenal fan.

I can’t belieeeeeve you’re making me hold this,” he whined and gave me a sullen glance.

[Monkey], it’s heaving it down, we can’t walk to school without umbrellas, we’d get soaked and you’d be cold all day,” I tried.

I’d rather get wet and ill than be seen with this. If my mates see me my name will be MUD all day.

Clearly, your status amongst your peer group is of pivotal importance when you’re ten. He wasn’t joking either, as I first thought. Having to use a Tottenham umbrella was clearly Monkey’s idea of the ultimate humiliation, and it was all my fault. Just as we passed Ant and Dec’s houses, I looked over at my grumpy little chimp and he was holding his umbrella as high as he could, stretching his arm up.

[Monkey], what on earth are you doing? Carry it normally!” I said, and started to get irritated too.

I’m holding it high so no one can see what it says on it!” he snapped at me, shooting me another moody look.

Little scallywag.

What is the big deal? Come on.

I don’t want to be seen with this. Argh! You don’t get it!” he exclaimed angrily.

No, clearly I didn’t, couldn’t for the life of me understand why this was such a travesty. Sometimes Monkey is argumentative for the sake of it – he’d make an excellent lawyer or politician, at ten he is already excellent at getting his views across to the point where I’m left speechless. So I thought perhaps he was just in a mood, had woken up on the wrong side of bed and just wanted to be difficult for difficult’s sake.

Stop being childish,” I told him and sighed.

Oh my God, mamma, I AM a child!” he shouted.

How do you argue with that? He’s a child and therefore he is childish?

Number one. You don’t shout at me. Number two. It’s raining lots and I don’t want you to get wet. Three, no one will see it’s a Tottenham umbrella, it only has the symbol. Your friends won’t realise it and you can hand it to me as soon as we’re at the gates,” I told him sternly.

You don’t know J and Z, do you? They’ll spot it immeeeeediately.

I gave up, ignored my moody boy and at the gates he skulked off after handing me his umbrella.

Next time I’ll get a Norwich one!” I shouted after him, trying to make a joke (Monkey’s dad’s an Ipswich supporter, so this would be level 2 of umbrella humiliation).

You’re not funny. See ya!

Little shit, this little person I love so much it makes my heart feel too large for my ribcage and whom my life revolves around. Long gone are the days when mamma was the epitome of cool and the centre of his universe. Now I’m embarrassing, stupid and oblivious to the rules of acceptable umbrellas. He would have been less annoyed with me if I’d got him a Barbie one with flashing pink fairy lights, honestly. The Tottenham ones came from B, a couple of promotional ones that I only used because the ones I had have all broken. Oh well, at least I’ll know for next time, so along with getting Monkey a new winter jacket, I’ll have to make sure I get him an umbrella too, one that doesn’t send him plunging down the pecking order among his friends. You’d think being a woman was hard enough – I had no idea ten-yearold boys could possibly care so much about appearance.

Back home and my feet and calves are wet – today’s rain is the kind that comes down AT you rather than ON you – and the sleeves of my winter coat are soaked too, so I’ve hung it by the radiator in the hallway. Eesh. Now you can really tell it’s November. Times like this, I’d prefer Sweden – snow is so much nicer than this wet and drab stuff.

So long as it eases up by this afternoon though. B’s heading home early and I’m looking forward to the weekend. Another All Blacks game tomorrow against Scotland, so we’re off to see that. Hopefully do what we’ve done before and walk along the river to Hammersmith and the kiwi pub there by the river. They have table tennis tables so I might give B a match – we’re pretty well matched at squash and badminton, so I reckon table tennis will be good too. And at some point, I need him to teach me to play tennis, a sport I imagine is lots of fun once you’ve got the hang of it.

For now though, today’s lesson is this: never, EVER use a Tottenham umbrella. Even if it means getting soaked and ill as a result. Even death is a better option.

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