Thursday, November 03, 2005

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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