#devilchildren

We all love a good morning routine right? We rise quietly, bleary-eyed but excited about the potential of a new day, stumble out in to the rising sun and greet the songbirds as they sing in the new dawn.

Ha ha fucking ha.

Today I am lucky I got to school before the first bell – as it was it was lucky I didn’t run over the girls as they lined up for assembly as I sped in to the grounds much MUCH later than I intended to be on this bloody Monday morning.

I get up in the morning in a good mood. Pretty much every day without fail. It’s one of my most annoying habits. But I have spawned offspring that do not. And the GD has his own ‘routine’ that may or may not involve the rest of us depending on whether he has decided that he is in a terrific hurry that morning or not.

On days that I don’t boot-camp or run – more frequent in my old age than I’d readily admit – I get up and feed the pets, put the coffee on and I go through and wake the rest of the house. The 6 yr old gets up immediately with me and I/we make him breakfast; I go through multiple times to the bedroom and remind the 9 yr old that he needs to get up, all the while finding their clothes and shoes for the day and ‘laying them out’ for them like they are fucking little princes or some shit. The 6 yr old clings like a limpet and will often follow me through the house with his cereal or toast in hand all the while leaving a trail of food for the dog to follow. The dog loves him for this – who doesn’t appreciate a second breakfast?

Once they are up and getting dressed I make their lunches and put a piece of toast in for me. (I haven’t had coffee yet – I like to have my coffee WITH my breakfast). Then, before I get to my toast I find something that the 9 yr old will deign to eat – he is very anti breakfast – and help the 6 yr old get dressed because apparently he ‘can’t’ by himself.

Then I find my toast – if I’m not there to witness it pop my toaster flings it high in the air and it can land anywhere – and sit down to have breakfast and my first cup of coffee with the 9 yr old (who is often in the other room sulking because I haven’t found him the right tee shirt/ shorts/ shoes and he won’t eat with the food I have made on pain of death).

Then just as I am finishing up and getting ready to shower the GD will come through and announce he is getting in the shower. This is the beginning of the end.

You see, the GD’s routine consists roughly of getting up, making coffee/pouring his cup and going outside with it to have a cigarette (which actually means staring at his phone for twenty minutes), then if no one is nagging him to do otherwise (read: me asking him to either feed the animals or children etc) he comes inside and goes and sits on the toilet for half an hour (he’s staring on his phone there too), then he comes in and showers, dresses and comes in to the kitchen to announce that he’s in a terrible hurry because the motorway is ‘crazy’ and he doesn’t want to be late. Then he just leaves. Just like that, He fucking leaves with no fighting and no one screaming about their shoes or anything – it’s a fucking miracle.

Naturally at all points in his routine I am doing my damnedest to disrupt his happy little meandering, and this all comes off as me badgering him because if I can get in the shower first it will dramatically change the morning for all.

If I can get in the shower first then the GD has nothing to do while he waits so he can in fact, make sure the little Dutchmen have their shoes on, their school bags packed and are not killing each-other as they wait for me to be ready to take them to school. On these mornings we leave much closer to 7.30, have a pleasant ride to school, and I get to school before eight am with my waking morning sunshine-y ass intact.

But mostly lately, even on days that I boot camp because usually the routine starts the same way once I get home (only we’re now 45 mins behind so that’s fun) we have the shitshow that was this morning. ONCE everyone else is ready to go, and the GD is out of the shower and walking out the door – because he’s going to be so late remember?, Then it is finally my turn to start getting ready.

Now, it should be relatively simple in fact for this to happen, I shower, I get dressed, we get in the car and leave. Simple.

But as it turns out, once the #devilchildren are ready to go to school they can’t actually be trusted alone together because that’s when they go in to full hellion mode. I can bargain with them, bribe them, threaten them – or even, in an attempt to be positive, remind them of ‘that one time they played nicely together while they waited and then we all drove to school together cheerfully and it was wonderful?’ but to no avail.

Today the water wasn’t even running before the screaming started. The youngest child has a shriek that is piercing no matter how far away you are and I feel it physically. I can’t ablute with the door shut – too dangerous to not be within earshot – so it was but a matter of seconds before I had both of them in the bathroom with me listing the others crimes and trying to drown the other out with sheer volume. Banished separately – one to their (shared) room with the other to the lounge didn’t work because one’s toys were in the others time out zone and he swiftly set about breaking as many as them as possible much to the horror of his offsider who started screaming profanities that would have made a pirate blush.

Cut to me standing naked in the lounge (in full view of any neighbour who wanted to be put off their breakfast) pointing dramatically down the hallway and shouting that ‘EVERYONE IS FUCKING WALKING TO SCHOOL AND I DON’T CARE HOW LONG IT TAKES FOR YOU TO GET THERE!’.

I finally showered with the 6 yr old sobbing piteously outside the glass, the 9 yr old in his bed refusing to come out (blankets over his head and blinds drawn – shades of his teen years I fear) all the while cursing my beloveds name.

We all sulked on the way to school. No mindless chatter about whatever is in the 6 yr olds head (I’ll give you a clue – it’s usually poo) or any deeper (more worrying) questions from the 9 yr old like ‘WHY did the Americans vote in Trump and does this mean all the black people are going to be shot now?’ for example.

I drove to school feeling guilty for getting so mad and hoping that they wouldn’t have a shite day at school as a result of our bloody awful morning.*

There are ways to mitigate this madness. If I break the ‘no screens before school’ rule they will stare like zombies at their chosen screen while I shower and dress and get myself in the car – but as soon as I turn the screens off so begins the 20 minute meltdown over putting a pair of shoes on because the flickering blue lights have taken away their ability to determine between a reasonable request i.e. put your shoes on and get in the car and that tantamount to pain and torture and endless suffering.

Some mornings I get home from boot camp and run to the shower while no one is looking and issue instructions from inside my watery haven. Those are good mornings.

And if I have to be fair, and godamnit the GD reads this so I have to be, some mornings he has fed one of the children by the time I get back and might have started a lunchbox or two before he sees me and skedaddles. To be fair he goes in the opposite direction of the kids school so dropping them off doesn’t make sense. But I’m not in the mood to be fair and it’s not that part that fucks with me.

It’s the way he just GOES. ‘Oops I’m going to be late!’ he sings out gaily and runs out the door. As if somehow me being late to work every single fucking day isn’t as bad as if he was ten minutes later. Don’t forget that I stop on the way with the kids too, and although I basically slow down, kiss them and drop them off, more often that not lately I have to get out and walk them in because they are so tired and sad about mornings (normal end of term stuff). This adds a good fifteen minutes to an already to-long routine.

I know this is end of term stuff and everyone is exhausted. And I know that some people will be reading this and thinking WHY don’t they make their lunches the night before, and foster more independence in their children to make their own breakfasts and all that happy helpful shit that I would mutter under my breath too. And I do mutter that shit under my breath at me. But tbh at the moment I am hanging out until JUST AFTER my kids have hit their pillows before I collapse in to mine. Our routines go to hell when we’re tired and that’s just the sucky, sticky reality of it.

Just the freedom of being able to leave when I’m ready like that. The miracle of it. I’m always reminded of this bit by Michael Mcintyre about Leaving the House.

Little do the #littledutchmen know that I have plans to ride my bike to my new job next year. I wonder if that means the GD will be dropping them off and I can just leave when I’m ready? Huh.

*They had a great day and all of the mornings dramas were forgotten in minutes as soon as they saw their friends of course, it was just Mummy who thought about it all day and felt like shite. Happy lads upon afternoon pick up. Because I knew you were wondering.

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Day 99 – school holiday hell

It speaks to the state of your parenting when you go to a Psych ward – with actual unwell people in it – and the most out of control people there are your children. And no matter how delicately a threat I posed or delicious the bribe I offered they blithely ignored me and my distress at their wild animal antics. Luckily the birthday grrl – Nana – was completely oblivious and the only person who noticed their antics was the wide-eyed, quiet, perfectly behaved 10 year old – my cousins daughter – who clearly had not seen anything quite like them. That’s right – I was so grumpy that I allowed myself to be shamed (in my head) by a perfectly lovely child. Who was behaving perfectly. And not at all like an animal.

Nana didn’t notice of course. Mostly she just wanted to tell us how much her birthday had sucked so far and how she couldn’t eat the birthday cake that Mum had thoughtfully provided. (A big thanks to Mum for not getting a GF one – she normally would bust her ass trying to find something I could eat but this time she was too busy and it was perfect because if it was GF I would have EATEN IT ALL).

Conversation went round in circles with Nana in the middle ‘Has everyone had a piece of cake?’ Yes Nana. ‘I’ll have my piece tomorrow because I’m unwell’ we know Nana. ‘Have the boys had a piece of cake?’ Yes Nana (Boys look hopeful at their great Nana). ‘It’s my birthday and I’ve had a sore tummy all day, it’s not fair’ We know Nana that truly sucks. ‘Has everyone had a piece of cake?’. Yes Nana. ‘Your mother got me this beautiful necklace…. am I wearing it Kathleen?’. Yes Nana it’s lovely. ‘Do the boys want a piece of cake?’ ‘Has anyone seen my necklace?’ And so on. It was good to see her. She has been allowed out of the 24 hour watch bit and is now allowed to mingle with the others. She usually waits until one of the other women or men walk past and says in a stage whisper ‘It’s so sad Kathleen, They are all so bad in here – really doolally’. I’m not sure she is making many friends to be honest. But she might be out soon on good behaviour.

The school holidays used to be such a wonderful time for me when I was a young, childless teacher. I could lie in bed, be kissed on the forehead by an envious grumpy Dutchman as he left for work and then spend my days slothing about, taking photos, watching shit TV, op-shopping and catching up with my grrlfriends. Ah the good old days.

Not so now I am a mother. I have one child in school so guess what? He’s on holiday with me. And the other one is old enough now to notice when his brother gets to stay with Mummy so I have to let him stay home more during the hols.

I like my kids. Really I do. They are both bright and inquisitive and opinionated and totally rock and roll. They are the best little team a mother could ask for. In small doses. And not so much together as separately – special ‘Mummy and me’ time is good. We have a great time when they are not competing for anything. Yesterday the seven year old and I had a lovely time doing errands and talking about nothing. I learned an awful lot about computer games I will never play. And if I think about it – I had both of them on Tuesday and we went to the zoo and it was lovely. So it is possible I will admit but in small doses.

Today I just gave up. When we got home from the hospital I just let them do what they wanted. They built a fort for the kitten. They forced the kitten to ‘enjoy’ it. I rescued the kitten so they went to the TV lounge and wrestled. I shouted ‘Get OFF your brothers head!’ more than once. They threw themselves around the music lounge in an attempt to get the dog to wrestle with them. They played the drums. Briefly. They helped themselves to food and milk. They followed me out on to the road to speak to a friend and dragged the kitten up and down the street to meet the neighbours. They nearly fell asleep in the car when I played my Terry Pratchett audio book with the express purpose of getting them to sleep. Damnit.

I mostly craved sugar and tried really hard to ignore it. I was grumpy and impatient. I threatened to give the kitten to someone nice. I tried to bribe them with delicious treats which they declined. I gave up and pulled out the classic ‘When your father gets home he will hear about this!’. They didn’t care. You’ve got to admire that kind of confidence really. I gave up parenting and retreated to my bed. I painted my nails. I read a trashy magazine. I read the first chapter of my Willpower book (it says to only read a chapter a week and try to do the ‘experiments’). This week I am meant to try to ‘be in the moment and notice my breath’ for five minutes a day. HA! I’d like to be in any moment and have the energy to notice my breath at all. I’ve always been a shit breather.

Tomorrow the smallest child will go to daycare, and the eldest will come with me to work. I will put him in front of a computer and he will happily get screen stoned while I mark assessments and panic about un-written assessments for next term. But at least I will be distracted my body aches, headaches and sugar cravings.

Knowing I did (all) of this to myself doesn’t make it any more fun.