The dog ate my homework


Lots of working mothers apparently feel they need to lie, if they’re late for work because of childcare problems.

A survey of 1,500 working mothers by The Family Care Company found that half would prefer to blame traffic or a broken alarm clock, fearing that otherwise their employers would doubt their commitment.

Luisa Dillner
G2 – The Guardian

Having heard quite a few excuses for lateness in my time, childcare problems would be one of the least irritating. But perhaps that’s because I’m a mother and more understanding when carefully constructed arrangements clatter to the ground with a resounding crash.

In my experience any excuse given habitually will cause eyes to roll, whether it be childcare problems, traffic, exploding boilers or malfunctioning alarm clocks.

I was once late for an early shift because I’d set my alarm for 5pm instead of 5am. The extra hour in bed didn’t make up for the near heart attack I suffered when I got to work and had fifteen minutes to get everything ready.
It was a lesson well-learned, and it only happened once.

It was a lesson unfortunately not learned by a colleague, who didn’t turn up for an early presenting shift, didn’t wake up when I called him every two minutes for half an hour, and whose heavy sleeping meant I, a new and inexperienced reporter, had to call another presenter in, while the broadcast assistant read the news and I presented (very badly) the programme.

And his excuse was, the alarm didn’t wake him up.

Since those early days I’ve had to grit my teeth and express sympathy over –

- colds masquerading as flu
- pets with splinters
- “I’m not on shift today” “yes you are” you’ve changed the rota” “no I haven’t” “yes you have” type conversations.

And all of these homework-eating-dog offerings are far less credible than a child with chicken pox or a school which has had to close for the day because of central heating failure/snow on the road/conkers on the trees.

Children exist, and they have parents who go to work. If employers can’t get used to that idea, then perhaps we have to come up with a raft of irrefutable excuses which relate to neither children, traffic accidents nor clocks.

We don’t have a dog, but we could blame the guinea pigs…

About Beta Mum

Here you can find the ramblings of a trapeze artist turned journalist who ran away from the circus to join the BBC. Cathy "mine's a Kir Royale" Keir then spent thirteen years working in Jersey, Guernsey and Devon, before downgrading to what you see before you. She has contributed articles to The Guardian, The Stage and Television Today, Junior Magazine and both the BBC and Bad Mothers Club websites. She has two children who think women can’t be prime ministers. She blames herself.
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