Really, really need to sign the passport renewal form but I need a black pen. Can I find one? No. A pencil even? No. A coloured pencil, yes, but it needs sharpening, and who knows which vortex the sharpener might have fallen into, although I believe I saw one back in 2015 on the shelf behind the sports water bottles and I thought to myself at the time I should move it to a more memorable location. It’s not there now, which means that I probably did move it, but clearly to nowhere memorable. Back to finding a pen (which is a complete mystery as Thing 1 was gifted the entire contents of a Paperchase store for Christmas so there must be one somewhere). Ah, yes, I shamelessly kept the pen which came from the Cats Protection League Christmas newsletter, and I’ve located it in the bottom of a Bag for Life in the car boot. Passport form signed. Recycled envelope used from this morning’s post. Need to get my hands on a roll of sellotape to stick down the already used envelope. The only roll in reach is an old sticky one which doesn’t appear to have an end. I’ll use the masking tape which is in the drawer instead (even though I presume this should be stored in the tool box). Now my plan is to attach aforementioned pen to a piece of string and secure to the desk so it cannot escape. Anyone seen the string recently?
Monday and bin day again! A sick child in the house threw me this morning so when I heard the waste lorry coming down the street I was obliged to abandon Calpol delivery, leap downstairs, find a pair of shoes (size 12 flip flops were the immediate ones to hand), dash outside in dressing gown at sub zero temperatures, wildly waving and shouting “Wait, wait!”. No wonder they moved on without my bin. Sob sob, because I’m incapable of waiting another two weeks for bin collection, now I’ll have to take a trip to the refuse centre. Maybe tomorrow. And maybe there’s something wrong with me?
I am reminded of the time a friend asked her husband if he’d taken out the bins and he answered in the affirmative. But later that day, she discovered the bin hadn’t been emptied. When she confronted him about this, his response was that a kindly homeless person must have seen the bin on the pavement and brought it in for them, not realising it was purposefully placed there for collection! Full marks for inventiveness. Zero marks for taking out the bins but no surprise there, eh? Domestic duties, it seems, are always pink!
Minecraft. What? Where? When? Where? Who? Thing 3 tells me it’s a ‘Sandbox’ but that’s just not enlightening. What’s fascinating me is the polar approach towards construction adopted by boy/girl. I’m not gender stereo-typing here, I’m just a casual (well, maybe less than casual when I’ve finished watching Series 1 of The Crown) observer but one world is full of armoured vehicles, buildings complete with spy holes, ammunition stores, secret tunnels, a couple of thousand sports pitches, trap doors, sky scrapers, dug-outs and a large sign saying “KEEP OUT SISTERS”, and the other is awash with dog and pig hospitals, bedcovers with flower designs (as much as flowers can be designed with blocks), enormous bathrooms, more bedrooms, a cat rescue centre, equine stables, orphanages, schools, a foundling hospital and a secret password so that none of her siblings can access these worlds. What this tells me is that at least two of my children spend too much time on Minecraft.
There was a time when I was spooning pureed fruit (organic, of course) into those precious mouths and I truly looked forward to the time when they would be old enough for us to have homework chats. We could pore over the atlas together, discuss why Henry broke from Rome, read Jane Eyre in tandem or converse over dinner only in French. The possibilities were endless! But perhaps homework hour should be rebranded? Arsenic hour? Take last night as an example.
Thing 4, on writing up science conclusion, after quite some persuasion that homework should be completed before turning on episode 756 of The Next Step: “I discovered that North Pole of a magnet is on the left and South Pole is on the right.”
Me: “Where were North and South Pole, then, for Hattie, who sits on the opposite side of the table to you?”.
Thing 4: “ What do you know about magnets? You weren’t there in the class, and anyway when you were at school, in the olden times, magnets hadn’t been invented!”
The word ‘repel’ sprang to instantly to mind….
An exquisite box of caramel sea salt truffles dusted with icing sugar were staring at me from the depths of the fridge, behind the jar of piccalilli – kept only in the fridge because I love the stylish Fortnum and Mason jar – where I had hidden them so nobody else could find them (not that they’d appreciate truffles, they are more of a Smarties bunch). The chocolates were given to me as a Christmas present by one of my gorgeous pupils. They were so scrumptious that I was forced to eat the entire box in one sitting, while watching back episodes of The Crown. A study once concluded that eating chocolate led to improved cognitive performance. On reflection, perhaps a good rummage and tidy would unveil the whereabouts of the giant box of After Eights which, post Christmas, are lurking somewhere else in the house……
Hurrah!! Monday. Bin day. Back to the regular schedule after the festive period when I read and re-read the ‘Waste Services’ leaflet on a daily basis in the vain hope that reading would miraculously make the waste lorry appear and take away all of my carefully sorted rubbish. As requested, I methodically separated the Christmas wrapping paper into distinct piles: paper with foil and glitter, plain paper and brown paper, not to mention the cardboard box folding, glass bottle/jar sorting and compartmentalising the food tins from the drinks cans. We are a conscientiously environmentally friendly household, you see. Indeed, as well as recycling, the laundry is put on the 30 degree cycle. But there are problems associated with that eco-friendly, cost efficient system, namely that it has little effect during the rugby season (Thing 2 pictured above yesterday). I have visions of a conversation taking place at rugby club bar many moons ago, over a few pints of Heineken:
“Club colours, Jeff, John, Ian? What do you think?”
“Green…and white?” (Looking straight at beer bottle).
“Good news. Striped top and white shorts. Job done. Another round, chaps?”
White shorts. Honestly. Eco Warrior will surface another day.
Dearest darling children,
When I ask you to pop your plate in the dishwasher, I promise that is all I am asking. I am not trying to start a world war. I’m genuinely asking you to pop your plate in the dishwasher because you’re old enough to understand that it’s helpful, that I am a busy person too, that we can share domestic responsibilities, and that this skill will enable you to transition into adult life without the need for a 24 hour butler. I’m not saying “pop your plate in the dishwasher, you uncommunicative, unthinking, moody teenager, and by the way, while I am at it, can you pick up the Everest-resembling mountain of dirty laundry from your bedroom floor, empty the overflowing heap of rubbish festering in the corner of said bedroom (which will fill up the wheelie bin outside), return the 45 half mouldy coffee cups to the kitchen – to the dishwasher even! -, finish writing your Christmas thank you letters, and perhaps apologise for slamming the door 3 weeks ago when I refused to let you stay at your friends house the night before your driving theory test.” Just saying dishwasher, that’s all.
INSET day yesterday. A real treat of a day, including a session on mindfulness where I learned, quite simply, that my mind is full. Clearly that’s not the point and I’m certain there are many who would help me steer my way through the Headspace App and get back on track. Breathe in…2…3…breathe out….2…3…4….5…
In the meantime, I found the breathing exercise to be extremely productive and in the allotted space I cerebrally completed the following tasks:
- Online shop including Thai ingredients galangal and kaffir leaves which seem to have expired by some 4 years in my store cupboard (aren’t you impressed that I checked?)
- Mental reminder to cancel 2017 subscriptions to numerous publications which land through my door, including newspaper for children, apparently read only by me (super interesting article on America’s gun violence btw)
- Creation of guest list to 20th wedding anniversary celebrations
- Logistics for getting to rugby match in Maidenhead tomorrow evening
Wait! Mindfulness session has finished. But I’ve hardly scratched the surface, and rugby match planning is still a little hazy. Oh well, much more important jobs to attend to, like thinking about what I will wear to 20th wedding anniversary party. In September.
Following on from yesterday’s food theme (possibly there’s just a food theme full stop), we have established a new menu system at home. There’s a wall mounted blackboard which I have labelled Monday – Friday and Things 1-4 must use negotiation, compromise, cunning and powerful threats over one another in order to establish ONE meal per night. Note, one meal for all. I’ll share this week because I am rather impressed with the precious Things.
Monday – Prawn fajita
Tuesday – Pasta arrabbiata (spelling! Those hours of spelling test revision have not gone wasted)
Wednesday – Club sandwich
Thursday – Tom Yum soup (where did they find this recipe?)
Friday – Thai curry
There was a time when I listened to Woman’s Hour (I don’t know when this time was because surely I was either a student and therefore asleep, or at work full time and unable to listen to the radio, or possibly it was when the children were extremely small and I had gently laid them down for their morning nap and come downstairs to a sea of calm and tranquility and a chance to spend a leisurely hour in front of the radio? Mostly I remember putting the Things down for their morning nap and then spending the next hour revisiting their bedrooms to persuade them that it was really a nap that they needed.) Anyhow, I was desperate to listen to Woman’s Hour because somehow down the airwaves I knew there’d be lessons to turn me into an Accomplished Person. Like a magic spell, suddenly I’d be that woman who could rustle up a pair of curtains, or knit a jumper, or tie a bowtie, or re-upholster a chair, or label everything I put in the freezer with a date stamp, a use-by stamp, how many people it will feed and – indeed – a helpful sticker which actually details the contents of the frozen container. But after years of Woman’s Hour, I find that I can do none of these things! Except perhaps, one. Apparently every woman has a repertoire of ten go-to recipes in her head. Well, look, with the exception of the Tom Yum soup I am 50% there this week, and if they have the same menu next week, that is still 10 days of meals. Job done. Phew.