The Small Child has woken in prickly humour. I wake to find her little hand on my shoulder at 7-10, an unwelcome intrusion to my slumber. She is wearing a vest and her grey skirt. ‘I need a shirt,’ she says. ‘And a tie.’ Now.’ I am awake, but barely. It has been a busy weekend. It has been a busy year. I have to get up, make lunches, serve breakfast, THEN go to work and top the day off with a visit to the dentist for two fillings. I wonder should I just book in my cervical smear test too and be done with it. I do not wish this day to begin. But begin it does. ‘Your summer dress is on the bannister,’ I say. ‘Put it on.’
‘No,’ declares the Small Child. ‘I DON’T. WEAR. DRESSES.’ In her white vest she is like a mini Stanley Kowalski. ‘It is not summer,’ she says. ‘It is cold. I am wearing my uniform.’ She disappears and returns holding her tie aloft, triumphantly. ‘Now I just need my shirt’ she says.
The child has a point. Outside the sky is grey and it has rained heavily in the night. I know this, because against her better judgement, the cat insisted on going out at ten-thirty as we went to bed. Thus, when I woke to use the loo at 12 I took pity and went down to let her in. She shot past my legs, her coat sodden, mewing pathetically. I lovingly dried her with kitchen roll and off she went to bed.
It is still mizzly and I feel for the child. I too, have shunned sandals of late, and returned to wearing ankle boots, with ankle socks underneath. Last week I wore a hoodie, and actually put the hood up to keep my ears warm. I counted three different men in Botanic Gardens wearing hats, and a few women in scarves: not wispy silk scarves, but scarves of weight and substance. I therefore get the Small Child’s point, but I’m f**ked id I’m digging out her shirts which have been washed, ironed and put away (in a rare show of organisation).
The Older Child is in ebullient form, leaping from bed to bed. They’re wild keen on the leaping, my children. In the garden, they are forever catapulting themselves out of the shrubbery, and often, I see a child, airborne, flying past at a ferocious rate.
The grandparents have been up minding them on Mondays of late. This means that when I get in at 4pm, they had been fed Maud’s ice-cream, pizza from Lidl and generous slabs of Dairy Milk. They are often engaged in gardening tasks, clearing weeds and suchlike. ‘They were VERY good,’ my parents will say, in a tone which suggests that they are wonderful children and don’t merit the complaining I do about them. But why wouldn’t they good, when enjoying such an abundance of treats? ‘Try doing their homework with them or making them have a bath,’ I want to snarl.
‘They have expressed interest in a swing,’ The Mothership tells me in a conspiratorial tone. ‘Will I just go out and buy one?’ ‘No’ I reply, with feeling. We live on a hill, you see. Our garden is built on 3 tiers and given my children’s propensity for taking flying leaps I fear one or both of them would come sailing through the kitchen window as I’m peeling the potatoes. I grew up in a house with a large, flat garden. Never once, was it mooted that I be bought a swing, or a climbing frame, or any class of garden paraphernalia common to our neighbours on the Esplanade. I decide against voicing any of this. The Mothership will, of course, read it here, and then ring me up to gripe that I’m ‘doing her down again.’
Speaking of which, you wouldn’t need to be sensitive on this house. The Small Child, was hoking through a drawer of mine earlier, while I combed her hair. ‘What’s this?’ she said, aghast. ‘It’s a passport photo, of me,’ I tell her. (I got photos taken in Dalkey in February. I have yet to the fill in my application for my Irish Passport). The Small Child shakes her head. ‘Desperate,’ she says in a withering tone, putting it back. She is 6 years old and sounds exactly like the Mothership, when she was on the phone last week, insulting me. ‘I need to talk to you, AT ONCE. It’s about your hair.’
‘What about my hair?’ I said. I was just in from work and trying to enjoy a cup of tea and a Bourbon cream.
‘You need to do something about it,’ she says. ‘You put a picture of yourself up on Twitter, and it may have been in jest, but regardless of that, you looked about 50. “Ronnie,” I said. “Would you look at the cut of that?” There is a swathe, a swathe of white, not even grey, across the front. You need to get that sorted. I would suggest you have a few different shades put in when you get your high lights done. Or I could do it myself, from a packet. Save you a fortune.’
Well that would be a treat indeed- The Mothership doing my highlights at the kitchen table while my progeny laugh and cackle and possibly take pictures. No, I think I shall go and drink coffee and read Red magazine in Riah, as per usual. Anyway, I don’t think I’d be nearly as grey were it not for cantankerous off-spring and mercurial mothers. And it’s almost the holidays! All that extra time with the children to enjoy. I think I might just pack them off to Bangor for a week by the sea. The Mothership might just be reviewing her opinion then….