Some days run like clockwork in our house – granted, usually when we’re all at work, school, the child-minder’s. When we’re nowhere near the place, I think the day must progress quite smoothly. I imagine Jinx the cat has the run of the place, hosting cat parties, relishing the fact that she doesn’t have to fight the baby for possession of her cat biscuits, celebrating by having sofa clawing competitions and ‘who can spray the wall from the greatest distance’, before it all turns sour and they all fall out, resulting in spitting, yowling and three overturned vases and before you know it, someone defecates in the fireplace. Ok perhaps cats don’t have it easy either.
Such was this evening; a flurry of bag unpacking, bag re-packing, reading, uniform and dinner. Tired children in protest: there were vegetables, meat and (sharp intake of breath) sauce.
“What is it?!”
“What do you think it is?”
Suspiciously eyeing the contents of the pot “No…no, no!”
“Phew, it’s a good job you don’t want it, because it’s poisoned.” Lid firmly placed back on pot
5 year old eyebrow rises in interest “Poisoned?”
“Oh you know, rotting meat, bogey casserole and toenails. You’d be dead by bath time, wouldn’t even have time to wash your hair.”
“Cool! Give some to the girls!”
So he was sold. Princesses 1 and 2 were less convinced. I’ve fixed the straps on the highchair so the baby can’t climb out. I’m not sure she can move at all now, but I’m confident she can breathe, if only from the racket she was making throughout tea. She did delve into the cannelloni with her fist, and then quickly dumped her bowl on the floor with an unapologetic “uh oh”. Indeed.
“I don’t like unicorn” everyone stares at toddler’s plate to fathom unicorn.
“No, it’s a Peppa Pig plate, no unicorns love”
“It’s there, can see it.” She prods her corn on the cob in disgust
“SWEETCORN!” Unison, shouting and then rabble and delighted ‘delicious’ noises about sweetcorn from the grown-ups at the table.
“I don’t like it.”
“Why not? It’s lovely and very good for you”
“It’s dirty and it makes me sad inside” Right you are then, well done everyone. Next job, clear up and attack the lunch boxes.
It’s important to mention that I am massively lucky, in that I have a little army of helpers who are often willing to make the onslaught of the working week a bit easier, the most useful members of this mini platoon are namely my husband and big boy.
Someone wise once told me that raising sons is much like caring for a dog: three square meals a day, single, one word commands, lots of affection and a run out twice a day. You could say this applies to my husband too. This makes the pair of them refreshingly uncomplicated to live with. Until you need them to find something.
Take your hands, raise them up to your eye and create a mini tunnel around them (as though making a mini pair of binoculars) move your head side to side by no more than 2 inches, nod up and down no more than an inch: that’s the field of vision for these two. If they can’t see it within that vicinity, within the allotted time of the 3 second attention span… huge sigh, mumbled swear word (husband) tut and throwing hands in air (son) “It’s NOT HERE!”
In their defence, apparently I purposefully send them on ‘difficult’ missions. The fridge, for milk. The wardrobe, for socks. To say my husband has fathered 3 children it’s amazing that he couldn’t pick out a bottle out in a line up. It certainly adds an element of challenge to getting ready to prepare for a new day – but often after a Spanish Inquisition and a process outlined in such minute detail it would give Jonathan Creek a run for his money, it might have been quicker to do it myself. So I did just that while they all went for a play in the garden to test the new goalposts.
Another way in which my son and husband are startlingly alike is in their competitive spirit. Not a day goes by without them squabbling about some mindless challenge they’ve set each other. Today was no different. From the quietness of the kitchen I could hear my son demanding that my husband guard the goal on his knees with a hand behind his back. Things were getting quite stroppy (mainly from the 32 year old veteran on the pitch) when I went outside to get ready to be the bath time killjoy – again. The neighbours children were hanging over the fence, ready for the storm brewing, the neighbours up to 3 houses along were putting washing out. And I have to say, I did feel pretty pleased that we’d managed a rare midweek family meal, everyone had had some fresh air and that vegetables had been eaten by (almost) every member of the family, even if it was under the promise of sudden death.
I didn’t see my husband kick the ball, not that my reflexes would have reacted in time to help me if they had. I only wish I hadn’t been carrying a freshly brewed mug of tea. Did I mention the neighbours’ children were out? And all the neighbours?
“SHIIIIIIIIIIT!!!!” stunned silence. You could hear what they were thinking:
Children: She swore. This is brilliant, this is the best day ever! Even after the disgusting dinner.
Husband: God, I’m in so much trouble. (What a shot though!)
Neighbour: This never happened when the middle aged couple lived here, I miss them.
Neighbour’s children: This never happened when the middle aged couple lived here – BRILLIANT!
Tuesday can bog off. Officially. Anyway, something to be cheerful about, tomorrow’s Wednesday. And we all love bin day!