It’s 6.30 on Sunday evening and we’ve just got back from a meal out. It feels lovely not to have the usual mountain of washing up from the roast dinner. No hair washes tonight either because Youngest and Eldest had their haircut today and it was washed at the salon (Middle One had his done yesterday). It’s almost worth the exorbitant £21 each for the cut just to have someone else wash their hair.
So, all in all I’m looking forward to a relaxing Sunday evening. For a change. I decide to get on with some writing and I’m on a roll tapping furiously at the keys when Eldest swans into the office:
“Got any tissue paper?”
“It’s for my art homework.”
“Perhaps you should have thought about this before now?”
“But we were out having a meal!”
“No, I mean before that. Before today even. When the shop that sells these things at the end of our road was open.”
“I’ve been busy!”
“You've been skateboarding.”
He wanders off. I will not get riled. I will not get up and go and look for some tissue paper. I will let it all wash over me. I am writing…
About ten minutes later Middle One waltzes in:
“Have we got any A3 paper?”
“What for?” I’m not looking up from the computer screen. I’m still tapping at the keys furiously. I will not look up.
“My geography homework.”
“When’s it for?” My teeth are so gritted I can hardly get the words out.
He says the answer out loud at the exact moment I mouth it silently to myself: “Tomorrow.”
“Nope.” I say.
He wanders off.
“Mummy!” Youngest is shouting from his room upstairs.
I ignore it.
I still ignore it.
“Mummy! Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!”
“What!” I yell back.
(I bet Jane Austen never had this problem.)
“What the hell are you shouting for? “ Asks husband coming up the stairs.
“I’m not shouting, he is.”
“Where is my Woody!” Comes the disembodied voice from above.
“I don’t know!” I shout back.
“You are shouting.” Says husband.
Youngest comes into the office.
“I can’t find my Woody doll. I haven’t been able to find him for ages. Will you come and look with me?”
“Please.” I say.
“Please.” He says.
Reluctantly I get up and go and look for Woody. I look everywhere I can think of: under his bed, in his bed, in his wardrobe, in the playroom…I can’t find it.
By now it is nearly bedtime: a long, lavish affair at our house as each child goes up at a different time and requires to be followed shortly after as one of us either reads a story (as in Youngest’s case) or tells the child to stop reading a story (as in Middle One and Eldest’s case).
It’s an exhausting process but one that is almost coming to an end as I enter Middle One’s room at about 9.30 and tell him to turn out his light.
“Mummy?” He says.
“I’ve got something to tell you. It’s not good I’m afraid.”
“What?” I can feel my teeth beginning to grit again.
“What is it?”
“I lost my PE kit at school.”
“Right.” I say, as calmly as I can muster, “And when do you have PE next?”
But I’ve already guessed the answer.