Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Little things

The day started well. It really did. Determined to put in an hour's work before Tiger starts slamming the Cheerio box around, I get up extra early and come and sit quiet in the kitchen with hot coffee for company. And then I spoil it all by staring out the window for forty minutes wondering whether squirrels crack open hazelnuts by banging them on the roof at midnight. And then decide the rat's back. Last time it cost a discreet visit from the rat catcher and eighty quid with promises of mortality. I never was convinced.

Well after that it got worse, because Squirrel - the daughter, not the small furry animal - comes banging downstairs in a really bad mood. And I mean bad. She's kicking the kitchen door and yelling at the top of her voice because of I don't know what. I do heavy duty turning away at this sort of terrorist attack, which usually makes it worse, so I've been trying to stop it, and simply ask 'What's wrong?' which works a lot better with Squirrel than anything else.

Don't you hate it when your own kids start saying things back to you that you've said to them? So Squirrel starts off, 'Mummy! You're not listening! What do you keep in your ears? Wax?' At which point I say that's not the proper way to talk to someone who's concerned, so I get a load more. 'You're making me upset! How many times have I told you that! Don't speak to me like that! I'm leaving this room!' I may as well just set a tape recording going and play it back to myself as I put my head in my hands and wait until she finishes by slamming the kitchen door behind her and causing a picture of a flower to drop off its nail in the front room.

I could cry of course, with the locked-in frustration and failure of everything already today, but I won't because at this point I spill coffee over the table and have to mop that up instead. Then by the time I've not got the shower to work again we're late and it's time to get in the car to drive to art with Hitler. Dig, who has been working until 3am again, has been woken up by Squirrel's slamming and put her under threat of grounding if she opens her mouth, so she's sitting on the stairs, waiting for me to rush around shouting about the lost keys with a mouth that looks like it's been fixed with superglue.

At least Squirrel's quiet, which is more than Grit can manage as this journey starts. I put up a constant stream of under-the-breath, heart-beating nervous abuse at the yellow truck that's a hair's breadth away from the rear bumper. For five miles down the A-road the only thing I can see in my rear view mirror are the words 'Number one for service'. Eventually in semi-panic I give in and pull over hard on the verge so Number one can roar past, with a blast from his horn. Squirrel breaks silence at last with a torrent of abuse pouring out at Tiger's leg which is now in her space, while Shark starts to slap her knees and complain about the journey not being what she's used to and if we don't hurry up, Hitler will have started and it will be all my fault.

Right now I feel like banging my head on the steering wheel, but it's one of those days when the horn would jam on and I'd drive the last ten miles with a mobile siren providing a early warning system for our late arrival. Either that or the air bag will explode and suffocate me. This memory always stops me. Two years ago when we had to use taxis to get everywhere after the car was smashed up by kidnappers the first taxi driver told me that one day as he was taking in a reluctant school refuser, his air bag exploded and knocked out two front teeth. The child then asked, 'Is that normal?'. It is in Grit's day matey I think, so today I'll just lean my head against the window for a moment and try not to sob.

By the time I get Tiger, Shark and Squirrel into art, late, with apologies, I drive off to Sainsbury's to buy breakfast, having recalled that I missed it this morning thanks to squirrels of both sorts and a mouth ulcer of the singular variety.

By the time I park the car I see I'm out of petrol again and full of misery and despair. Why does it all go wrong? I think. Why do we seem to have to struggle so much to do ordinary things? Why can't things just go easy for a day or two when we can be on time, dressed properly, fed, and the car keys and Grit's glasses be in the rightful places and everything goes smoothly and nothing goes wrong?

Just at this moment I have no inner resources to call on and steel me up. And then my mobile rings. I see it's Dig. Momentarily my heart leaps. Perhaps he's calling with good news. Perhaps he'll say Aunty Dee just won the lottery syndicate from work so tonight it's Chinese take-aways all round. Perhaps he'll say that someone far away just offered a two-year contract with family relocation to Melbourne for summer and holidays in Goa. Perhaps he's just calling to say he loves me and is thinking of me.

No. Dig says that Customs and Excise have called. We must be cooking the books and false accounting in the snatches of seconds we get between running the business from the flat next door and home educating triplets because C&E are sending round a VAT inspector at the earliest opportunity.

And he forgot to say he loved me.


Beyondmywildest. said...

Really sorry you had a crap day. Hope the next one is better. X

Brad said...

When I was young we had an English Nanny. Nanny Alice fed us toffee and wine. Now I understand.

Brad said...

Never mind - that didn't come out right at all

grit said...

toffee and wine! that is a brilliant idea! we could do a super-chewy teeth-sticking type, plus a tipple of sweet wine and i would get a quiet morning filled with bonhomie!

unless of course the wine brings out the fist-swinging side to Tiger...

Gill said...

Mmmm Chinese takeaways...

Ew, VAT inspections! *spit*

LOL @ listening to offspring! I was explaining to one of mine today that if I'm halfway through typing a sentence, my brain puts what she says in a little mental waiting room until I've finished.

"Yeah well, what I said got sick of waiting and went to find a cup of coffee 3 hours ago," is what I got back.

Michelle said...

Ah Gill - that's a very funny retort! You've trained them well. Us lot here wanted to know if you ever did find out the mystery of the brick circle in the rectangle in the field beyond yours. Looked on your blogs but can't find any reference to it. Probably would be better if I contacted you directly though rather than through Grit's blog.

Grit - I'm going to email you. xx

Michelle said...

But not after commenting that it is The Year of the Rat as of tomorrow so he's early.

grit said...

hello michelle. i am looking forward to your email. i just got one from magdelena ricks, offering to extend my penis. she writes often. i'm guessing it's not you in disguise.

Exmoorjane said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog - but I confess I'm intrigued - how on earth did you find me??
Hairdressers can be hell - one once managed to kill my hair (as in stone dead....green slime)..
I have not the foggiest idea how you home-educate three (THREE??!!) seven year olds - I feel exhausted just thinking about it. All I can do to get one 9 year old to do a teeny tiny amount of homework each day.... You have my boundless admiration.

Michelle said...

You've discovered my secret. I am Magdelena. I get my kicks where I can.

You should get some spam mail filter installed.

Email has been sent.