Friday, 12 January 2007

We are late

We have been early three times in our life with the triplets. The first was the birth, by about two months. The second was the home ed visit to the quarry, when we arrived 10 minutes early thanks to Jee scaring me witless about the quarry manager. The third was a home ed visit to an Egyptian workshop, when we turned up the day before. But mostly, we are late. In fact, we are very late, for mostly everything.

This is how it happens. This morning we are booked to a craft and social session between 10 and 12. It takes just under an hour to drive there, so we should start off at 9, and we'll be early. Simple. It's 11.20 when we get there.

The reason why we're late starts at 5.30 am. I wake with a blinding headache and take two aspirin. This is an early mistake; the aspirin knock me out, so the next thing I know of is Squirrel standing over me demanding to know why it's 9am and why I'm not waking everyone at 8am like I threatened. I think this is excellent progress for a child who's having difficulty reading a clock, and as I stumble out of bed and crash to the floor I tell her so.

The next reason why we are late is when I'm standing in the shower. Shark comes to ask me if we can take a craft activity. Through the foam I tell her this is a wonderful idea and I wish I'd thought of it and suggest paper and a pair of scissors. This is a second mistake. Now everyone wants to take a craft activity. By the time I get downstairs, Squirrel is cutting out pictures of flags; Shark is squeezing A4 paper and scissors into a triangular-shaped toy box and Tiger is asking me to go out into the garden to look for a fir tree that has pine cones. Dig is reading the newspaper. Apparently he can't possibly go into the garden because he has no trousers on. It's 9.35. I've had no breakfast.

I tell Squirrel to take the flags with her and cut them out there. I tell Shark that I will find her a folder to take the paper in so it doesn't crease and I tell Tiger we don't have a fir tree in the garden that grows pine cones. We have holly, hawthorn, and damson. No firs. No pines. Dig is eating breakfast and asks if I saw the article about the talking parrot.

Tiger is determined. At least she's wearing shoes, although on the wrong feet. So I unlock the garden door for her. She wants me to come because there might be monsters. I tell Tiger we don't keep monsters in the garden, no firs, no pines either. I tell her from under the bed, which is where I'm looking for the folder that doesn't squash the A4 paper. Then I shout to Squirrel to take the flags with her and wait in the hall. Dig is enjoying his breakfast toast over the newspaper. It's 9.45.

Tiger comes back in, holding a fir cone that we must have brought back from a nature walk last year because it looks like it's been in a waterlogged puddle all winter. I tell her not to bother taking a craft activity. I say I've got paper and shout stop trying to cram everything into the toy box and get a coat instead. I say take the ruddy flags into the hall and wait. I've lost my car keys. Actually, I lost them last Monday, so I take Dig's. It's 9.55.

Shark is ready to get in the car. She's wearing her coat on back to front so her hood's over her face. She thinks this is very funny because she can't see where she's going. I propel her to the car shouting to Tiger to put her shoes on the right way round and to Squirrel to take the flags into the hall or I will destroy them. Dig has gone back to his computer. He's still not got any trousers on, but that's the benefit of working from home he says. It's 10am.

Shark is in the car trying to fasten her safety belt with her hood over her face. Tiger is sitting on the floor asking for glue. I ask Squirrel where the flags are and she says under the hall table. By the time I get a bag for Squirrel to put her flags into, say no no no no no no no about the glue, and get everyone to the car it's 10.10. I can't get the car out the parking space. I have to bump the car behind. We set off at 10.15 and the panic is rising.

The first bit is the motorway. This is easy at 90 mph. Then we turn off to go across the hills to our destination. Oh dear. The petrol light is on. With horror I recall Dig last night over his glass of wine saying that the car has no petrol. I consider the 15 miles we just drove, probably with the light on and in such a panic that I didn't see it, and then the 35 miles we have to do through the middle of nowhere. We turn back to the nearest petrol station. Add 15 minutes.

When we set off again I can't get the CD player to work with one hand and the kids are complaining that Roald Dahl's not there. Squirrel has dropped her favourite flag and is upset that I cannot stop the car and find it. I am desperate for a wee. Tiger is in tears. Shark says she's hungry.

When we get there, we have 40 minutes left of the 2-hour craft session. Jol invites us to lunch and we all readily agree, because the kids can play with Am, who gets them to dress up and hide in the toilet and shout 'bum' which everyone thinks is a wonderful thing. So we're six hours late getting home. And I forget to phone to tell Dig to say we won't be home till dark. But that's OK. I bet he's only just got his trousers on anyway.

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