In which I wish the kids were older (Part 1 of 2)
Parents of grown-up children always say the strangest things to me: "Never wish your life away", or "you'll miss this when they're older", or "ahh, they're so precious at that age". Usually when I'm in the Supermarket, with one of them in a headlock, and the other wailing in the next aisle, because I've walked off and left them to their tantrum!
It's just after 8am, and my School Mum friends and I are discussing our children, all girls between 9 and 10 years old. They all have younger brothers who wind them up, or whom they take their mood swings out on. "I honestly cannot wait until they're adults and move out" I say in desperation, as their arguing has now been in full swing for over an hour. I know we still have to get through the teenage years, and although I've had plenty of warnings from friends with older children, nothing can quite prepare you for the realities of teenage angst and hormones, temper tantrums and drama! I imagine it will be like when you're pregnant; no amount of heed about sleepless nights and dirty nappies can prime you for the horrors of real life with a newborn. And yet, if someone announces that their pregnant for the first time, I simply congratulate them and smile to myself, safe in the knowledge that I will never have to go through all that trauma again.
So here we are in the present day, the Daughter is 10 years old and the Son is 7. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to the day when I can go to the toilet, without having to do a deep clean of the entire bathroom first. I don't think there has been a single occasion in the last 5 years when I haven't had to wipe the toilet seat down before I sit on it. And it's not just the seat; it's also the bowl, the tiles, the floor, the shower door... Just what the hell goes on in there? I'd like to think it's purely down to the Son, who never, ever remembers to lift the seat up as well as the lid. If only someone could invent a gadget to remind him loudly that he needs to lift both to pee. But the Son is not the only culprit. Don't even get me started on the Husband, who at 35, really should be capable of successfully aiming inside the lavatory.
Then there is the saga of butter appearing in the jam! I stumble into the kitchen at 7am each morning, fumbling around for the coffee machine and looking for the teaspoons in the fridge. "Yuck" I announce in disgust, as my hand makes contact with something sticky on the fridge handle. Most likely Nutella. Or, at least, that's what I hope the brown stuff is that's now smeared across my palm! I wipe myself and the fridge down with the packet of baby wipes that permanently live on our table. And finally open a jar of seedless raspberry jam. To my dismay, I discover big, creamy dollops of butter staring up at me from the sweet, dark red jelly. My stomach turns and I sigh audibly, rolling my eyes in an exaggerated manner at the children, who stare back at me in bewilderment from the table. The jam is tossed back into the fridge and the toast goes straight in the food bin. "Cereal it is then" I grumble to myself.
The kids usually finish breakfast way before me. I like to take my time and leisurely scroll through my phone, sip my coffee and check my emails (which only ever consist of marketing from high street stores.) I call upstairs from the dining room table. "Hurry up! Joe Wicks is starting in three minutes!" And then it dawns on me that if this is the case, I need to get my skates on and hop into the shower, so that it cleverly coincides with their YouTube PE lesson; a rare moment when I might possibly make it through a whole shower uninterrupted. I stand up from the table. "Yooooooowww" I holler, as my foot crunches on a piece of Spiderman Lego. "Uuuurrrggghh" I cry as the other foot treads in a mushy bit of Weetabix. "For God's sake" I say, face upturned to the ceiling, as if the big man himself is watching, laughing at my misfortune.
I'm under the warm, soothing flow of water for precisely 45 seconds before a child wanders into the bathroom. "Mummy, I'm thirsty. Can you get me a drink please?" "Can't you get one yourself? I've literally just got in here!" But he tells me that the cups are too high for him to reach, which they are. I instruct him to go and ask Daddy for help. Apparently, Daddy is in the bath, and, therefore, cannot be disturbed! Ahh, of course, how silly of me to forget that although I'm as unavailable as your father, you still have no problem in disturbing me. Even if their dad is in the living room with them, and I dare to attempt a bath before they're in bed, they'll still come up and ask me to help them look for the remote control. I cannot work out why this happens, but I'm told that it goes on in every household.
Which brings me on to the much fantasised about lie-in. Every morning I'm awoken by the Son. He generally wakes sometime between 5.30 and 6.30am, but we have a very strict household rule, where-by no-one is allowed out of bed until 7am. The minute the big hand hits the twelve, I hear him jump down from his mid-sleeper (a ladder is overrated when you're seven) and a millisecond later, our bedroom door slowly opens. "Mummy" he whispers into my ear, his hot breath tickling the side of my cheek, "it's 7 'o' clock - time to get up." "Alright, I'll be down in a minute" I grumble and roll over to face the Husband, who is still snoring, blissfully unaware of the disturbance. I tut and huff loudly, but he doesn't stir. "Just give me a minute" I say again to the Son. He groans and reaches for my phone on the bedside table. Even though my eyes are shut, and he doesn't make a peep, I know what he's up to with my supersonic mummy hearing. (If he even rolls over in bed in the room next door, I hear it.) Sometimes I shout his name and make him jump, dropping my phone on the carpet with a thud. "Go downstairs and get your breakfast!" Sometimes, if I'm really tired, or it's the weekend, I'll pretend not to hear him, and let him play games on my phone, curled up at the foot of the bed.
The Daughter is mercifully just beginning to appreciate the luxury of a lie-in, and, if I'm lucky, she won't drag herself downstairs until nearly 8am! A whole hour without arguing! Absolute bliss. If she's feeling generous, she'll help her brother spread his Nutella on toast and take him into the living room to watch a rerun of Ninja Warrior. If she's in a bad mood, I'll have to thud downstairs, booming like an ogre, to which they squeal and run off to the lounge, slamming the glass panelled door behind them with tremendous force. I plod into the kitchen to be greeted by the site of a warzone. The bread is strewn everywhere. The tiles below are festooned with crumbs. The date label that you tie the bag with is long gone, so I have to hunt for a peg to close it again, before returning it to the safety of the bread bin. The jam is out on the side, along with the butter. Neither have lids on. A sticky, used knife lays on the worktop and a pool of water lays undiscovered on the floor, until I step in it. Bowls and plates still cover the table, as if there had been a seven course banquet held in our kitchen. Bread crusts lay all around the food bin, but none seem to have made the full journey to successfully land inside it. I curse and wonder for the umpteenth time why I had kids in the first place!
It's not all bad though. Look out for Part 2: In which I wish the kids wouldn't grow up.
What drives you bonkers about being a parent? Let me know in the comments section.
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