Friday, May 06, 2005

My Bank Holiday Treat

by Four Blind Mice
(Sometime ago Spouse and I took the children up to London for the day. We had such a good time it bears retelling here...)
Mummy and Daddy took us out for the day. They said we would go to London tothe London Dungeons. We thought it might be scary but fun. That's what Daddytold us anyway.
When we arrived there was a big queue, so we went on HMS Belfast instead.Nos 3 & 4 got frightened in one of the rooms because it was verynoisy, but otherwise we enjoyed ourselves.
Then we went back to the London Dungeons. There was a man outside wearing along cloak and he had a scar on his face. No 2 thought this was funny, but no 1 thought it was yukky.
When we went inside we had our pictures taken pretending to chop Mummy andDaddy's head off.
(So far, so good - Mummy)
Then we went through to a hall of mirrors. No 4 started screaming. Sodid No 3. There was a lady dressed in black and it was really spooky. ThenNo 2 started screaming too. Mummy was supposed to be turning left, but gotconfused so we were going round in circles. Luckily the spooky lady in black letus out of a side door as we were all screaming so much.
Then we saw a woman dressed in rags, whose hair was in her face and whotalked about the Plague. Nos 1 &2 thought she was funny, but Nos 3 &4 were still crying. No 1 wasn't very keen on the rats though.
The next bit was where a man pretended to be the Witch Finder general, andshouted a lot. Nos 3 &4 screamed some more, but No 2 wasn't toofrightened, and No 1 thought it was funny.
After that we went to a pretend courtroom and there was a very funny judge.But Daddy and Mummy decided maybe we wouldn't like the strobe lighting.
The judge sentenced us all to prison, so we had to go in a boat and gothrough Traitor's Gate. No 2 sat on Mummy's lap and No3 on Daddy's, andNos 1&2 sat together. The boat went off and it wasn't too bad at first. Butthen it got really dark and we went through Traitor's Gate, and there werelots of spooky sounds, so everyone started screaming again. Suddenly it wentpitch black and we were whisked backwards, and we all screamed some more.
It seemed like forever to get off the boat (particularly for Mummy and Daddy who were sweating buckets by now)) - but then we walked through and heard allabout Jack the Ripper. Mummy and Daddy didn't seem to want to tell us whatprostitutes were though. There was another very scary bit in a mortuary andeveryone apart from No1 screamed again.
Then it was the end, but first we had to walk through a tunnel that wassupposed to be on fire. It felt like you were falling over, and Nos 3 & 4screamed some more.
When we got out Mummy and Daddy bought us sweets and Macdonalds. We don'tthink we want to go to the London Dungeons ever again!
In our defence, - last time Spouse and I went to the London Dungeons it was full of waxworks, and while it was scary, there were no special effects. And although they did warn it wasn't for the fainthearted, I have to admit we both thought it was the wussy advice of a pc world. How wrong we were. Luckily I don't think we've damaged the kids for life - as thanks to Spouse's penchant for horror movies and B movie SF flicks they've already seen far more then is good for them, so the London Dungeons haven't lingered for too long in their memories - we think...

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12:54:16 o'clock GMT
Tears before Bedtime
By yesterday morning it looked as though a vomitfest wasn't in the offing and I really thought we'd Got Away With It. In your dreams, pal...
Viz no 3 woke up, tearful and complaining of stomach ache. As no2 pulls this one on me regularly my modus operandi on these occasions is to send 'em in and see what happens. Cream generally rising to the top and all that. Or in this case, vomit. But we probably don't want to go there...
Anyway, I hardened my heart, and shoved her into school - though not before enduring the wrath of the Obergruppenfuhrer standing guard on the school gates. The rules constantly change as to how the little ones get taken into school and under the current system we drop them at the gate and leave. As no3 was weeping I thought it best to take her right the way into school. I passed two teachers en route who said nothing. But on the way out I was accosted and told that in future I should go via the school office if I was taking her into school, as they don't want strangers wandering the school. Now while I appreciate the desire to keep my children safe and secure, a) I didn't actually enter the school building b) the teacher in the school saw me and c) I have been taking my children to this school for five years. I'm sorry but where has common sense GONE????
No3 thus cruelly despatched, it was off to the hospital for a physio appointment (tendons in my right hand if you're interested), followed by a run home. So Sproglet was probably better off where she was. Besides, most hospitals have enough horrible bugs without me bringing in anymore.
Physio (tendons weak but on the mend) and run (slow but steady - despite completing the marathon earlier this year, my running style is definitely tortoiselike) duly done with, I emerged from the shower to a phone call from school. No 3 was ill, surprise, surprise. So it was back to school to pick her up, and then off to nursery to pick up no4. Sometimes it feels like I never sit down. I wish I could say it had an effect on my waistline, but sadly it doesn't...
Luckily Spouse then pitched up as he had the afternoon off, so he whisked off to get the big ones from school, while the little ones watched TV and I attempted to catch up on some work. As I work from home I generally find that home tends to take over somewhat. So for the last three weeks, with halfterm, inset days, German visitors and general sickness, you could say I have got a bit behind. Factor in a fractious computer which has had to go to the Hospital for Terminally Sick Terminals and you can see I have my work cut out to get back to any semblance of normality. So that being the case, I also ended up taking some stuff with me to the big ones'swimming lessons, leaving Spouse in charge of the little ones, while he attempted to make order out of the chaos that is his filing system. This hasn't been touched for eight months needless to say, and is only being touched now as he needs to sort his stuff out for the tax man. Ostrich? My husband? Never!
All was going swimmingly till the end of the lesson, when no 2 stole the best towel and no 1 burst into tears. I then had a wailing and gnashing of teeth because their teacher had cruelly insisted they practise their crawl (mind you as one who can swim length after length of breastroke but a mere wussy 2 lengths of crawl I can sympathise), and wouldn't be pacified by the notion that practice makes perfect...
Back home it was time for tea, and I was in a hurry as I was out for the evening - excitingly to no4's parent's evening - (yes, I know what can you say about a three year old? But hey, soon they'll be having their own curriculum. The words rats and run spring to mind...) followed by one of those cookery evenings where you end up coming away with all sorts of pricey gizmos you would never normally buy and will certainly never use. It's sort of a posh and expensive form of tupperware parties and so not me. I was only going out of guilt, as I'm always saying no to stuff. Spouse was under strict instructions to be back by 7.30 as the previous night he came in ten minutes after I was due at the grown ups' version of Holy Joe classes (The argument for married priests has never been more compelling - if THEY had children they would never insist!)
So when they sat down I read them the riot act about getting through tea nicely. To which they all surprisingly concurred except no 1, who though normally not of a sensitive disposition has recently taking to having Hormonal Moments (remind me when puberty is again?). Tonight hearing no2 boast about how she could do handstands, sent no1 into paroxysms of grief. "But I ca--an't," she wailed. "And my little sister can. It's sooo embarrassing." I can relate to her grief. Aged 9 I was gawky and awkward in a similar way, and though I eventually got the hang of handstands it was much later. I tried to tell her this to no avail. "But Ihaven't been able to do them forever," she sobbed - forever, representing, well forever to a nine year old. "And everyone else can do them." What everyone? "I can't," chipped in no3. "Yes, but you're only five,"was the scathing reply.
Failing dismally to pacify my oldest I tried the you-may-feel-like-an-ugly-duckling-but-will-grow-into-a-beautiful-swan routine, to even less effect. At a loss I told her that her father was fat and useless till he was about 14 and that at least produced a watery smile. Great, I thought,as I reheated my tea, now Mummy gets to eat...
No chance. The full force of no1's evident misery about all things sporting burst forth in a veritable sea of grief. "AND I can't play tennis. AND I hate the crawl. AND everyone else is better then me..." I abandoned my dinner again and tried to point out that she was good at reading and writing and maths - and she can do sudoku much better then I can. But what's the good of any of that if you can't do handstands? Her siblings by this stage had abandoned the dinner table and were playing some complicated and violent game beneath it. What it is to have parental control...
Eventually I opted for the brisk approach. "It will all be ok in two years time" - in two years time her head will doubtless be full of boys not handstands, but she's not to know that. This seemed to work and I managed to finally eat my tea. (It is a mystery why I'm no thinner), by which time of course I was running incredibly late. So I scooted the littlies off to bed. No 3 had by now gone into a decline and I tucked her up with calpol, a hot water bottle, and a feeling of foreboding.
I dashed downstairs to make some order out of the mayhem the offspring manage go create in the lounge in about two minutes of being in the house, before realising it was twenty to eight and Spouse wasn't back. Fortunately for him, he was spared the meat cleaver as he chose that minute to walk through the door. "But I thought you were going out at 8," he said.
After an exciting evening consisting of five minutes discussing my youngest's achievements so far at nursery - she can hang her coat up and is rather quiet apparently. Both of which sound most unlikely to me - I had the further thrill of attending the cookery class. The people were all very nice but it simply isn't me, and I couldn't wait to escape.
As I came through the door, I could hear the dulcet wailing of no 3.Oh joy. I went upstairs in time to get her to the toilet before she puked everywhere. Result. Normally my children end up chucking up all over their toys. However I had spoken too soon. "I'm not going to be sick," she said turning to face the wall. Want a bet? The next minute the wall and carpet were liberally decorated, with a token effort ending up in the toilet bowl. I can cope with most aspects of motherhood, but vomit isn't one of them. Hold your breath, said Spouse when he came up to help. Yeah, right.
Her next offering at least made it onto the towel I had placed on her pillow. But the pillow and part of the sheet were soaked, so at midnight I was changing beds. And at 6 this morning I was woken to the news that the vicious little bug inhabiting her stomach had made it to the other end. So I changed her and the bed once again, and crawled back into bed with the vain aim of getting a little more shuteye. No chance. Another accident, followed by another puking incident ensured two more changes of clothing/bedding, and Mummy having to call it quits. I went to call the others. Apart from no4 who having recovered from the superbug is now horribly bouncy, the other two got up looking dreadful. They were both complaining of stomach aches and feeling sick. I know when I'm defeated, so told them they could stay in bed.
So apart from no4 who went to nursery this morning, the other three have all been at home, lying limply on the sofa watching videos. The washing machine is doing overtime and I'm wondering who's going to be sick next...
Welcome to my world. Fun isn't it?
Written by janehenry15 (Link to this entry)
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07 November 2005
12:08:14 o'clock GMT
Not with a Bang but a Whimper
Right this is third time lucky - I have been trying to add this entry unsuccessfully all morning as my sodding computer keeps crashing. I also have no idea why no one can post their comments on here (maybe no one has any comments!!) - as according to the way I have set this thing up I should be able to. Have asked AOL help desk, but getting someone who didn't seem to even understand what I was asking, let alone answer it I gave up. There is only so much of my life I want to waste on the other end of a blank screen... Anyone techie out there who feels they can enlighten me, all suggestions gratefully recieved! (You can email me on:janehenry15@aol.com).
Saturday being Bonfire Night and my husband being a pyromaniac at heart (I am sure in a former life he was involved in the Gunpowder Plot), we naturally had to have a fireworks party. Spouse having missed out last year because he was busy falling out of boats in the Ganges on a whitewater rafting trip to India. Hmm, being the total wuss I am, which do I prefer - my husband doing dangerous things with water, or dangerous things with fire? Midlife crisis? What midlife crisis?
When he suggested having a party I didn't pay too much attention to the date, and it was only about a week ago I belatedy realised that it coincided with our having visitors from Germany, who were leaving some time on Saturday, plus I had also arranged a family photo session in the afternoon. When I made the arrangement this seemed a sensible idea as we are normally busy with the children's activities in the morning, but now with a party planned this seemed the height of lunacy.
So Saturday went in it's usual chaotic fashion, Viz:
9.30 - I had to get no2 to church for her Holy Joe Classes. As a rather lapsed catholic I am somewhat of a disaster in terms of church going, but it does seem reasonable to show the children what it's all about, hence no2 is now following in her sister's footsteps and learning about Holy Communion. Downside of course is that Mummy gets to go to parent classes in the evenings. I read recently that modern parenting is more stressful then a generation ago. Too bloody right it is. I don't remember my parents having to do anything like this, but oh no, we 21st century mums have to take part in every aspect of the little darlings lives. Brownies? Come and help of an evening. Swimming? Sit for hours by the side of a pool and watch your child's slow progress towards something that eventually resembles breast stroke. School work? What you haven't typed up a three page dissertation for your offspring?Tsk Tsk. Take notes I WILL NOT LET MY CHILDREN DOWN IN FUTURE...Of course we're sodding stressed. Who wouldn't be?
9.45 Is No4's ballet lesson at the local Fame School (alumni of whom are all currently treading the boards in the West End. Their most famous ex-pupil is very famous indeed). Ballet lessons haven't been going well of late, and having spent the last one in the lesson with sprog firmly ensconced on my lap, I was on the point of quitting until today when to my relief I discovered a friend from nursery had started. So miraculously all tears dried up quite quickly and she skipped in.
10.30 Is no 3's turn -except she decided that she was ill and I wimped out of making her go which was quite the wrong decision as when I got home she was jumping around quite happily.
11 - back to church to pick up no2 who has been talking about things she should feel sorry for. Aged 7 she is obviously very sinful. The thing that troubled her most was that she had been boasting about going in the convertible belonging to her best friend's dad.
We then have a brief respite for lunch, and today Spouse also took the German visitors to the station. We felt terrible we couldn't take them to the airport, but they were travelling from Stanstead which is just too far. Luckily they are an independent pair and despite the son being ill they set off quite determinedly.
1pm found us back on the road to take no 2 to gym class. She having decided ballet wasn't her thing, discovered gymnastics watching the Olympics last year. So far she seems much more suited to it then to ballet, so I think we made the right decision...
1.30pm I cross the road with no 1 to take her back to the Fame School, to her jazzdance class which looks so much fun I wish I could do it. But then I wish I could do salsa too, but Spouse won't come with me.
Then it was back home to get everyone changed so we could all look beautiful for the family photo. Which would have been no problem except that no 1 jacked up as she has apparently decided she hates having her photo taken. This was news to me, and turned out to be a total pain, as first off she insisted on having a ridiculous plait which hung limply in front of her face and secondly she refused point blank to smile. The photographer was brill and tried to get her to laugh, but no 1 is nothing if not stubborn. So her attempts NOT to laugh resulted in her resembling a constipated donkey and so the chances of us having a nice family photo are about zero.
Then it was back home to run around like maniacs gettng ready. Spouse bossily took over in thekitchen, which is always bad news, as his methods are somewhat alien to mine. Namely he never cleans up and is busy doing the next thing before he has finished the previous activity. It's not that I'm not grateful, but I must say I was extremely relieved when our pyromaniac builder mate turned up to help him with the bonfire.
Said bonfire went off splendidly - no doubt helped by the rather volatile diesel/petrol mix which the boys liberally sprinkled all over it prior to starting. Said mix was in our garage when we moved in and there is still so much left we will probably be using it on bonfire nights in our dotage. Thankfully Spouse has now seen fit to move it to the bottom of the garden...
Once the conflagraton had died down and the rather splendid guy provided by one of our friends had gone up in smoke, it was time for fireworks. The pyromaniac builder remained behind to guard the flames, while Spouse enlisted the guymaker and our neighbour (otherwise known as his fellow partners in hovercraftmaking crime) to help. So they had a happy time making lots of loud bangs, which the children enjoyed in the main although towards the end they seemed more interested in the sparklers provided by our best friend who did sterling service lighting them as fast as the children had used them up.
As soon as the fireworks were over the children ran riot in the garden and upstairs (I still can't bear to go in the bedrooms), while the adults got quietly sozzled. The last stragglers ended up leaving around 1am, the children's best friends crashing the night (so no 2 got the sleepover she was after,quite by accident), and Spouse and I found ourselves dancing in the kitchen till 2am. Very romantic. What a shame he won't go to salsa...
Naturally yesterday was spent in a state of utter lethargy. I kept looking at the house and thinking it needed attention but failing miserably to do anything about it. The day ended with no 4 who had been moaning about a tummyache throwing up everywhere, though luckily not over sisters who were playing at her feet. I'm not good with vomit at the best of times, but with a hangover??? To paraphrase Hugh Grant, yuckity-yuck, yuck, yuck.
So today instead of working as I had planned, I am nursing a sick child, contemplating the horror that is my house, and wondering when the school is going to ring to say that nos1-3 have submitted to the bug too.
One day when I grow up I really will have a normal life....

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02 November 2005
12:12:20 o'clock GMT
Trick or Treat
Just when I thought it was safe not to go back into the water, but at least to be in my house without blowing a gasket, I had possibly the most maniacal-inducing day I have ever had since I first entered the hallowed portals of parenthood all those eons ago. Namely, half term is over, but nos 1 &2 still had an inset day while 3 &4 had to go to school. This caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth from no 3, who was only pacified when told that nos 1&2 would spend the day discovering what Mummy does when they are at school, namely the housework...
My cunning plan went all awry from the off when the big ones preempted me by putting on a new DVD and I was feeling too weak from the stresses of the previous week to argue. I also had the vague notion that it would be easier having them at home then the little ones. How wrong can you be...
I eventually persuaded them to come upstairs and help me put clothes away, and no 2 then excelled herself in the helpful stakes by tidying her room - VOLUNTARILY - good lord. However when no 1 was asked to do the same she "didn't hear" me the first time and then went into a decline when asked again. I found her sobbing by her desk, wailing "Where do I start?" - a feeling I know well - but she being 9 as opposed to a world weary 40 really was out of her depth. I quickly realised that she didn't know how to put right the havoc that had been wrought on her room during half term. I could have insisted, and probably would have except I knew she was right in saying that the others had done most of the damage... and yes, this time it did seem a tad unfair to make her tidy up their mess...
So muggins ended up doing most of the housework while the offspring swanned around like ladies of leisure. It being Halloween, they were of course really keen to go Trick or Treating - the bane of the modern mother's life. Yet ANOTHER (with all due respect to our friends across the pond) crappy American import along with sleepovers and crap cartoons to make your average mum's life even more hellish then it is.
Originally we were going to go with the girls' best friends, but they weren't going out till 7pm, and the little ones' swimming lesson didn't finish till 5pm anyway, which left not much time for eating and getting ready. So I was delighted when BFs' mum rang to suggest she took them all to see The Corpse Bride instead. I explained to the big ones that they would have another treat instead of doing the wretched T&Ting and they seemed happy with that - or so I thought...
...I had of course reckoned without the determination and downright deviousness of no2 (and no, I'm not being unfair here, no 1 rarely if ever instigates this kind of stuff - like her mother she is far too much of a girly wuss and hates getting into trouble of any kind). So there I was, happily sitting in the cafe at the swimming pool, when I get a text message to say I've missed a call. I duly dial it and get nothing but background chatter for several seconds before I can hear the clear tones of no 2 saying "I can't hear anything," followed by my friend saying something along the lines of "Are you sure your mum will let you?" Suspicions duly aroused, I rang back to discover that no2 had decided that she wanted to go trick or treating. Patiently, I explained that she had had a treat and no she wasn't going. "But why?" she wailed. "Because you went to the cinema instead," I repeated. "Oh you are sooo unfair," was the response. "Yup. 'Fraid so." This conversation went on rather fruitlessly for several minutes before I had to tell her that I was putting the phone down (it was all I could do not to cut her off), and coming to get her NOW!
En route to my friend's house the phone rang again. It was no 2 (who I discovered had sneaked into the kitchen and found my mobile number on the notice board), "But please, Mummy." "No." "Plea-ease." "No." "Oh you are the worst mum in the whole world. " Actually I wouldn't wholly disagree with that, as it is what I think most days, but being told it wasn't going to make a jot of a difference. That time I did cut her off, otherwise I might have crashed the car.
When I arrived to pick them up, no 2 flounced off upstairs in a strop. My friend nobly went to try and pacify her, and was met with "I'll only come down if you bribe me." (Jeez, I've spawned a child devil straight from hell - where did she get that from???) My friend suggested crisps/biscuits/chocolate, and was met with obdurate silence until no 2 came up with the idea of a sleepover "But my mum will never let me." (Oh you are sooo right there. I'm not keen on sleepovers at the best of times, but we're heading for Never Again Territory here).
I then went upstairs, and got the same treatment, followed by "And you are so unfair, we haven't seen Wallace &Gromit yet." (this despite two trips to the cinema in less then a week.) I explained between gritted teeth that Daddy wanted to see Wallace & Gromit and that is why we hadn't gone to see it yet, and was on the verge of throttling her, before it suddenly dawned on me that here I had the perfect bribe. "Ok," I said. "I'll bribe you. If you want to see Wallace & Gromit, you have to come downstairs." She appraised me coolly, "That's not a NICE bribe," she said. Too bad. It's the only one you're going to get.
Eventually after much moaning and groaning on the unfairness of life, the universe and maniacal mothers in particular, I got her downstairs and out of the door with the rest of them. As soon as we were through the door no 1 started up on the You Are The Meanest Mum In The World moan and burst into tears, followed by no 2 telling me that I had ruined her life and that I never let them do any fun things. The little ones meanwhile were being absolutely angelic and for the first time EVER I suddenly wished myself back a few years to the days when I had sprogs who might not sleep but at least couldn't answer me back.
At that point the Spouse walked in, and once appraised of the situation gave both children an insightful and clear picture of things, in a way only he knows how. Viz, "Why do you want to go trick or treating anyway? It's like begging." Thank the lord for supportive husbands is all I can say, because after another half an hour of tantrumming, they eventually came and apologised. So we let them have chocolate when their pals turned up to trick or treat, promised them some halloween games at our bonfire party this Sat, and we gave them both a cuddle to let them know they were forgiven.
To make sure no 2 was really allright (despite truly AWFUL behaviour she is a sensitive soul who takes things to heart) I promised I would read her the beginning of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
As I turned out the light, I gave her a kiss, "Have you learned a lesson tonight?" I asked. "Oh yes," she said. "But can I have a sleepover, ple-ease?"
Words fail me...
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31 October 2005
11:09:01 o'clock GMT
Happy Half Term
Nothing pleases a maniac mum more then knowing that she has to spend quality time with her offspring. Particularly when the appalling weather means that said quality time is held indoors with four children pinging off the walls. Half term began with the usual mad Saturday activities rush (sadly the Fame School where my children go dancing doesn't acknowledge the existence of half term) - and I spent the morning dashing backwards and forwards between ballet lessons and jazz classes, trying to fit in feeding them somewhere along the line. In the meantime Spouse in timehonoured tradition did Manly Things That Need Doing At The Weekend. To be fair to him the wretched things do need doing, and Saturday morning is the only time he has. But the net result is that I end up chivvying small reluctant children from A to B, as I do every day of the week, and neither my blood pressure or my language are up to the strain. My eldest frequently tells me bloody isn't a very nice word. Oh dear. Another black mark against me in the perfect mother stakes. I also now understand from a recent article I read in the Telegraph that I am further damaging the children by taking them to all these activities, as they need time to play. As a typical angst-ridden 21st century mum, I of course took said advice to heart and started running through the activities each child does, to see if they are doing too much. No1: jazz dance (which she loves); No2: gym (which she loves); Nos 1&2 : brownies (which I hate - all those women in uniform - and they love): Nos1 &2: swimming (necessary); no 3: tennis (which she loves); nos 3&4: ballet (which they love - well actually no 4 going through iffy patch at the moment but I know that sure as eggs are eggs if I take her out of the class she'll decide she wants to do it again); Nos 3&4: swimming (necessary - see above). On reflection I'm not going to feel guilty about any of this, because the kids enjoy their activities, and quite frankly school sport is so useless these days they need to do something active. I would LOVE it if they could do some of this stuff in school time, but helas, they don't. So my purse and my sanity are compromised instead.
Anyway, I digress. Onwards with the tale of our happy half term.
When the children were smaller I always looked forward to the holidays as a relief from the school run. That aspect of it still stands. It is lovely not to have to get four children out of the door before 8.20am, but on the downside, they're all at home, and fighting.
Viz, the day will begin like this:
The three big ones won't play with the littlest one. I can't blame them really. Even I can see she is annoying and I gave birth to her. But the consequence is no4 spends most of the days trailing after them shouting, "Guys, guys!" until frustration peaks and she launches all of her rather solid three year old self into a full on attack. A sight which would daunt the bravest of hearts. She sits on them, bites them, kicks them, punches them. This usually results in her sisters locking her in a room and running away - at which point Mum turns apoplectic and tears everyone off a strip.
No 4 can generally be soothed with a DVD, so things calm down for ooh, about five minutes, and the next sound I hear is no 3 sobbing outside her bedroom. I leave whatever dull piece of housework is preoccupying me to discover no 2 has decided she wants to play exclusively with no 1. "It's not fair" (no 2's constant cry, along with "It's not my fault" - truly a child of the 21st compensation culture century), she says "I never get to play with no 1 alone". "But then it's not fair to me," wails no 3, not unreasonably. Unfortunately despite my best efforts at Solomon like solutions, the children will not resolve their differences, and my best efforts usually result in me losing the plot and shouting at them all, so no 2 & no3 run off in separate directions sobbing wildly, while no 1 watches with all the aloofness of a very superior nine year old. The aloofness lasts not a whisker though when no 2 drags her into the row, so in no time at all 3/4 are hysterical. It makes you want to lose the will to live. Really it does.
As it rained ALL day on Monday, this was pretty much how things went. Tuesday was somewhat better as I had some friends over, but they still all managed to fall out at the end, and if you'd heard the fuss that they made when I suggested it would be nice to play in the garden, you'd have thought I'd committed mass murder (mind you that notion is never very far from mind...)
On Wednesday I thought it would be a good idea to go out on an activity, besides which I couldn't stand the state of the house any longer. Tidied the previous day, in honour of friends' visit, it now resembled a disaster area - trashed doesn't describe it. So I took them up to the Downs, where we were going to embark on a spot of kite flying - only to discover that most of the bits of kite were missing - purloined no doubt for some complicated game and hidden, lord knows where. It is a curious thing about my children that they can manage to dispose of all their toys in all manner of strange places, so you find things were you least expect them: Bratz dolls get mixed up with bits of lego; doll's house furniture finds its way into the trainset; magnetic letters from the fridge find their way under beds... well you get the picture. It offends my anally retentive soul to the core to find that nothing IS EVER WHERE IT SHOULD BE. The question Whyyyyyy???? springs to mind - I'm sure the answer is out there somewhere along with the answer to what happened to the dinosaurs, but I'm damned if I know what it is.
So kiteflying was off, and my suggestions for a brisk walk were met with tepid enthusiasm, particularly when my wimpy daughters all freaked at the number of dogs prancing about. Having a phobia against our canine friends myself, I am not unsympathetic, but devote many hours to trying to pretend I'm not scared so they won't be. However some of these mutts were rather large and no 4 is rather small, so I couldn't cope with the stress and took them out to lunch instead. At least I didn't have to cook.
Thursday I had promised the cinema, and assumed that there were plenty of showings of Nanny McPhee, our chosen film. However, having spent the morning fruitlessly searching for a wedding present, I left it till lunchtime to book, and then discovered I couldn't us into the 3pm showing. So it had to be 5.30pm - a little late for the little ones, but that's the trouble with promises... Memo to self, DO remember never to promise something you aren't sure to deliver - after nine years of motherhood you'd think I'd learnt something...
The film turned out to be fabulous though, and the cinema broke out into spontaneous applause at the end. It was sooooo nice to go and watch an unashamedly straightforward kid's flick, rather then a sassy one which is trying to be all things to all people. Hurrah for Emma Thompson, say I. And I'm probably the only person on the planet who remembers Nurse Matilda, the books on which it was based.
Sprogs went grumbling to bed too late - that's another thing, as it's half term routine has gone to pot, so the little ones keep ending up half an hour later to the disgust of the big ones who demand more time too, until bedtime is ending up about 9pm. Far too late for Mum and Dad to get any quality time, so I have been making myself even more unpopular by sending them up before they are ready to go. Just for once it would be nice NOT to be the bad guy.
The last day of half term started off in a relaxed manner. Spouse had the day off as we were going to a wedding. Unfortunately his joy at having a day off work had resulted in us sitting up far too late and drinking too much red wine. So we got up late and then discovered that no1 had outgrown all her posh dresses (foolishly I hadn't checked). So I went on a quick sprint into town to get all four new dresses (Spouse being much fairer then me, insisted). I thought I'd be half an hour - but that was before I realised that we are between seasons for kid's clothes, and therefore no dresses could be had for love nor money. I eventually tracked four down in Next (the woman said , "What size do you require?" and nearly passed out when I said, "4,6,8 &10!") and rushed home to discover no one had moved from the sofa, we had an hour and half to get ready and nothing had been done about lunch. We intended to get McDonald's on the way, but by 2.30 I still hadn't got my makeup on so it was improvise all the way as we grabbed some food at a garage, and I made my face up in the car park. I ended up putting my nail varnish on five minutes before the bride arrived. I am SOOO looking forward to the day when I can just get myself ready...
Wedding itself was lovely, and no 1 daughter excelled herself by winning a dancing competition and being invited to play air guitar with the lead singer. She can now head bang with the best of 'em, as befits a child who had Bon Jovi played to her as a baby. A girl after my own heart...
The next day we were all so knackered I scuppered all activities barring no 1's jazz dance, and we only went to that because the class had devised a special dance for the parents. But at least I had Spouse with me - until he hived off next door to help his friend build a hovercraft (don't ask). I meanwhile, put my feet up on the sofa with the paper, a cup of tea and some ear plugs...
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