So you know those films where children run amok and you chuckle because it is so extreme and therefore could not happen ‘In Real Life?’ Or else you comfort yourself because you think, ‘Phew, at least mine aren’t that bad?’ Well, shimmy on over and pull up a front row seat because mine are being absolute melters; candidates for Horrid Henry or Alvin and the Chipmunks. Day one of the official school holidays and we have already reached ‘peak melt.’ Earlier, as I walked past the living room, I saw The Small Child tying a basket to a piece of pink tinsel that was hanging from the light fitting. She was loading three cuddly toys (two ducks and a dragon) into said basket and giving it a vigorous push, like those big round swings at the park. I always want to curl up and read a book on that swing sown in Cherryvale Park, except some bastard child is usually already ensconced. Darn shame. They need to open parks, at night, for adults, not necessarily for devilment, just quiet contemplation in relaxing environs.
The pink tinsel, I must admit, has been strung around the light fitting since the Older Child’s birthday back in October. I think I am still recovering emotionally from that week before half-term when I was at the primary school two night’s running for the ‘Halloween disco’, then we stupidly decided to host our very own ‘Flamingo themed’ party in the house. The recollection of that time still makes my right eye-brow twitch. Even looking at the tinsel brings back feelings of angst and I can’t bear to actually touch it. Last week I was visiting a friend and I saw she still had some Christmas decorations up in her dining room. ‘Don’t ever change,’ I said to her, clutching her hand in the manner of one demented.
Back to my off-spring: let me list their other offences. Perhaps the most annoying thing is their utter inability to finish a meal while keeping their backsides on a seat. They eat with their hands and with their mouths open, like savages. As a child, my parents were most particular about table manners. Once, I used to be particular about table manners, but I have now given up entirely on such trifling affairs. Avoiding scurvy and Beri-Beri: those are my current concerns, so I do not care how they eat vegetables, as long as they ingest some vitamins which don’t come from a packet of Halibo-Orange for Kids.
This eating ‘on-the-move’ habit which my girls have acquired means that the floor is strewn with bits of bagel, pizza crusts and ice-cream wrappers. LSB shows his love for the girls by buying them whatever they want. At the moment, the children and Himself are on a quest for the elusive ‘Apple-saurus Rex’ ice-lolly. This has proved to be a fruitless search and to make them feel better he buys them oversized lollies such as Magnums or Super Twisters, to compensate. Should any of you, on your travels, come across this refreshing icy treat, do get in touch as we have now started to believe that it is nothing but a ruse to draw dinosaur crazed children into shops.
The children are being especially bad and bold because we have a guest. They like to ‘up the ante’, when we have visitors, especially paying guests. This week we are hosting a French person. Her English is ridiculously good so they keep asking me if she’s really French. Our last lodger (of whom we were very fond and wanted to keep; I kid you not, she had a penchant for tidying and she LOVED children) had a very shaky grasp of English. However, since this didn’t interfere with how she enjoyed arranging my cushions neatly and doing jigsaws with my kids, this was no problem whatsoever. Anyway, as the French girl arrived the kids were returning from an outing where they’d ingested half their body weight in Haribo and were in ‘climbing mode’; clambering all over the furniture and swinging and jumping off the bannisters. ‘Go outside!’ I bellowed, at which point they came in to tell me that the cat had left a gift, which was of course a mouse. The cat then appeared with another mouse between her jaws, and we all looked on in horror as she batted it about. The French girl hadn’t even had a cup of tea at this stage. Order was no sooner resumed when I looked in to the garden and thought, ‘F**k me but the cat really has got enormous,’ before realising it was actually a large black dog. A collie, I think. I had never seen said dog before in my life and then another appeared and they bounded in exuberant circles in the garden before making off through the fence. Meanwhile our feline hissed and spat with a back so arched she resembled a boomerang.
‘It’s not usually as bad as this,’ I told the French girl. I’m not sure she’s convinced though, as today the house was in a similar state of chassis. I was trying to cook, blithely ignoring the children, (I’m a massive fan of the benign neglect method of holiday childcare) and they instantly set upon her when she came in. ‘Let’s play Hide and Seek! Come on!’ They led the poor girl straight into the garden before swiftly returning. ‘Mummy,’ said The Older Child, ‘guess how many dead mice are on the patio?’
Three. There were three very small, very dead mice on the patio; another lovely job for SWB. However, given how much food my youngsters leave at their behinds, I’m currently feeling very grateful for Izzy, the ultimate mouse-destroyer.
(In the interests of public health I would like to add that there is a large field behind where we live. There are sometimes cows. We basically live in a farm but without the benefit of fresh eggs. We also employ a cleaner, for whenever I miss a bit.)