In which we disturb the peace
It's a wonder we haven't been thrown off our street yet. Should I be worried that we've had three lots of new neighbours in just five years?
I knew the weather was going to be glorious as soon as I woke up. When I drew the curtains back and was greeted by a slight haze disrupting my view, my suspicions were confirmed. There was no sun to speak of, as yet, but I knew we were in for a scorcher. It's now a balmy 23 degrees. The birds are tweeting, but lazily; no squawking or screeching. It's as if they can't be fussed today. They've been lulled into a warm, gentle state like the rest of us. The bees are quietly humming; floating between the lavender and strawberry plants that are flowering earlier this year due to all this premature heat. It's the perfect afternoon for lazing outdoors. The sun directly above, accompanied by a gentle breeze to comfort you. The neighbours are quietly murmuring amongst themselves in the adjacent gardens.
Until... the Husband decided to get the paddling pool out. What was he thinking? And so began the mammoth task of filling the damn thing. Now, filling a paddling pool shouldn't take much effort you'd think, but, believe me when I say, it does. Firstly, you can't just fill it with cold water from the hose, otherwise the whole rigmarole is a failure. The kids will not get into a cold pool. So, you must endure fifty trips to the kitchen tap with buckets and kettles. Then once the pool is full to what the parents call a satisfactory level and the kids call "not even half way", you have to spend another 10 minutes fishing out all the little flies that have settled on the water. You then instruct the kids to get "a few" toys from their bath time collection. They then reappear with 20 rubber ducks, 2 fishing rods, jugs, buckets, sponges, fishing nets that you didn't even know you had and a rubber dingy from your Spanish holiday two years ago. Why in God's name didn't we leave it at the hotel? Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Within thirty seconds of the kids diving into the pool, you realise you have made an epic mistake. The kids are yelling and squealing. "Splash me, splash me". "Don't splash me, don't splash me". "Tip that jug over me", "Give me that ducky! No, not that one, the orange one." "No, it's mine!" "Give it to meeeeeeeee!!!!!" I interject with "Shut Up!" This works for two minutes. I try again "Be bloody quiet!" I hiss to little effect. The Husband has somehow mastered the art of being terrifying, whilst keeping his voice just slightly above a whisper. "Shut up now. The neighbours don't want to hear you screaming. If you carry on like this, there'll be no kindle or iPad!" How does he do it?
After ten minutes, I've had enough of the noise from my own children and slope off inside to write this post, followed two minutes later by the Husband, who begins searching the kitchen crap drawer for water balloons. "What are you doing?" I demand. "Come outside and take some photos" he instructs. "What? I'm busy". "Busy doing what? Oh, let me guess - the blog. Just come outside, I have to go to work in fifteen minutes!" "Alright" I grumble, not at all impressed at having to leave this post and my newfound peace and quiet. I perch myself on the only decent sun lounger in our collection of garden furniture and sigh audibly.
What followed can only be described as pure hysteria. The kids were completely unaware of what was about to unfold. "Aaaaaggggghhhh, what was that?" as one small but deadly water balloon explodes over the Son's back. "Nooooo" as another one explodes over the other's head. They disembark the pool at lightning speed, realising they are sitting targets and start running around the garden like headless chickens, shrieking in delight. "Let us have a go, let us have a go". The Daughter swiftly ducks one and it hits me on the legs; the cold water exploding and soaking my socks, my legs and my phone. Now I'm shrieking; wailing like a banshee at being affronted without any warning. I dash inside, shortly followed by the Husband, grinning from ear to ear and offering a slight shrug by way of an apology.
Off he saunters to work whilst I'm left with two over excited children. Only now they're crying and shivering in front of me; clothes soaked and dripping huge pools of water on the kitchen tiles. "We're freezing, can we come inside?" They have been in the pool for precisely half the time it has taken to fill the damn thing up! "Right" I say, "you need to get into the shower to warm up." "We don't want to... I'm not washing my hair... Can't we just go and play on the iPad?" "No! You're covered in grass, your hair is matted with sunblock, you're all sticky from that ice-cream earlier. Go and get washed!" They get in the bath together after I successfully bribe them with the promise of some new bubble gum scented bath foam from Avon. Now the shrieking and arguing resumes upstairs. "Ow, stop pushing me." "There's not enough room for both of us". "Aaaaarrrrggggghhhh, that water's freezing!" "Right! I'm getting out" the Daughter shouts. I hear her storming off to her room, the bathroom door slamming behind her.
I trudge upstairs to retrieve the Son, who has been shouting at me for five minutes to come and get him out. The dingy is at the top of the stairs, still inflated, with all the bath toys from the paddling pool inside. A soaking wet towel is on the floor of the landing and, about 10 feet away, another soaking towel has been dumped. The Son's swimming shorts are in a heap at the top of the stairs, whilst the Daughter's swimming costume is dripping wet on the toilet seat. The bathroom windowsill is awash with water and the bath is full to the brim with bubbles. Half the bubble bath seems to have disappeared from the bottle. I get the Son out. "I can dry myself; I can dry myself!" "Good" I say wearily and turn to head downstairs. "I need you to dry my back" he calls after me. Sigh. I dutifully dry his back and head off to inspect the damage in the garden.
"Good God" I mutter aghast; it looks like a bomb's hit it! There are towels on the floor, toys strewn everywhere, watering cans scattered, (I still haven't worked out why we need more than one?) those bloody foam letters that fit together to make a mat. I don't care if I have to shove E into Z, I will make it fit and get it back into the shed! The umbrellas from our garden table and the kids picnic table need to be put away. The washing needs to be brought in. After a quick feel, I realise that the water fight has put paid to this idea. Various sunhats, sunglasses, sun cream; anything sun related now needs to be collected up and put back in its proper place. I finally finish up and look out over our tidy-ish but rather worn looking garden. Where there was once a lush lawn that the Husband had lovingly nurtured, now stood barren earth and muddy footprints. The garden has certainly taken a beating during lockdown. Nonetheless, I'm incredibly thankful for having somewhere outside to enjoy some fresh air. All of a sudden, I am overcome by an uneasy feeling... It is deathly quiet. "Odd" I think to myself. "No-one is at work and yet I can't hear anyone else out enjoying the sun?" and then it dawns on me... Oh.
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