Disclaimer to beloved sister, who purchased said beach tent: this is not your fault. I chose it. I’m an idiot. I love you.
1. Take unfolded beach tent from irate husband who is clearing out the garage and accidentally unearthed it from the minuscule bag in which it lives.
2. Try to find space big enough to lay beach tent flat – it’s raining and blowing a gale.
3. Answer 496 questions from five year old son about why there is a beach tent in the play room.
4. Explain to three year old daughter that we are not going to the beach.
5. Examine instructions. Scratch head. Answer 753 questions about why the beach tent is still unfolded on the floor and not packed in the bag yet. Explain that daddy may be the best person to fix things, but that mummy is not completely incapable.
6. Hit self in eye with wire frame of beach tent.
7. Force three year old to take off her swimming costume – reassert – we are not going to the beach.
8. Remove one year old from beach tent.
9. Read instructions again. Move tent to kitchen floor after too many questions from the five year old.
10. Attempt to fold. Get through stages one and two successfully. Get overexcited and repeat step 6 with force.
11. Express interest in three year old’s observation that the tent looks like a ‘giant crisp’ mutter unmentionable words.
12. Repeat step 10. Get interrupted by a request to build the Peppa Pig house.
13. Build the Peppa Pig house.
14. Read the instructions yet again marvelling at the springiness of the wires and the determination to not spring in the direction you need them to.
15. Attempt to fold, at the point where the tent usually pings you in the face, throw your body on top of the tent, grab the bag and begin to ease frame into it.
16. Get two thirds of the tent in the bag and look up and notice the one year old has climbed onto the kitchen table and is standing and waving at you.
17. Contemplate for a millisecond whether she will be safe until the remaining third is shoved in the bag.
18. Chastise self for being a terrible mother, rescue baby just in time to hear the tent ‘Huuuuuwhip’ out of the bag and return to standing by the time you have turned around.
19. Cry a little.
20. Discover all 3 children now sat in beach tent: having a ‘picnic’
21. Make a cup of tea. Drink it, until they get bored.
22. Talk to the beach tent. Explain why it needs to go in the bag. Promise to take it out every weekend in the summer. Beg the beach tent to go in the bag.
23. Concentrate on following the instructions exactly. Get five year old to hold the instructions where you can see them and follow them so, so carefully.
24. Get to the last step and carefully ease the wire frame into the circular shape required for the bag. Internally high five self and celebrate victory over the beach tent…
25. Hear the material of the beach tent rip loudly. Throw enormous, embarrassing tantrum. Throw beach tent in skip, with flourish.