You turn your back for 5 minutes…and they bring the entire garden inside.
It is always best to tackle a daunting task first thing in the morning. That way, by the time you are actually conscious you will already be halfway through whatever drudgery you have set for yourself. My task this morning was to launder all my bed linen; duvet included.
Having stuffed my king sized duvet in the Fisher & Paykel ‘Gentle Annie’ ( washing machine of 80’s and 90’s childhoods everywhere), even though I know full well that they are wholly incompatible, (Do you ever get that? The idea that your sheer willpower alone will be enough to overcome technical difficulties?) I then set about preparing myself a lavish breakfast, the details of which I will spare you (it involved tofu) and setting down to eat it while the children roared about the house enacting scenes from their various favoured television shows.
It was at this time wherein, Dora the Explorer played by Mabel Tinksybell Ice-Cream (the actress’s preferred title at present) first alerted me to the situation.
Dora/Mabel: ‘Mama! There is a river!’
And, because I am a great believer in imaginative play, and always ready to assume a supporting role, went right along.
Plucky side-kick/Alice: ‘Oh no, Dora! A river! What are we going to do?’
Dora/Mabel: ‘Mama! The river is coming to get me! Mama! The river is in the kitchen!’
She was even standing on a chair at this point, clasping her little hands together. Adorable, I thought. Such commitment to the part.
Enter Buzz Lightyear/Theo.
Buzz Lightyear/Theo: ‘Mama. There is a flood. The washing machine is broken. I will call Pappous to fix it.’
Plucky side-kick/Alice: ‘Oh, bloody hell!’
You know how there are different kinds of ‘Today I flooded the wash-house’? Well today? I bloody flooded the bloody wash-house. Gentle Annie:1. Plucky side-kick/Alice:0.
Buzz Lightyear/Theo: ‘Mama? Is this a good flood? Or a bad flood?’
They will really ask you things like this, usually in moments you are trying to hold back a deluge with a tea-towel.
Sodden side-kick/Alice: ‘Uh…it’s just a flood, Bubba.’
Buzz Lightyear/Theo: ‘Yes. But….’
When I had finally restored some semblance of order and went to return to my breakfast, the cats had licked it all over. So I gave it to the dog. Who rejected it.
Life is made up of moments like this.
But then, when I came to my bedroom to write this, quickly and quietly before I had to return to the 57th rousing rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star that is currently taking place on the front step, I found that the children had made my bed with their own duvets. And it was the best thing that’s ever happened.
Life is made up of moments like this, too.
Mabel: ‘Mama! I am taking a photo of you!’
Alice: ‘Oh, but darling! I am in the shower!’
Theo: ‘I am going to take a photo of you too, Mama!’
Alice: ‘Oh, darlings, uh, yes – that’s very nice! But perhaps you could take photos of me when I am out of the shower? You know?’
Theo: ‘I am just getting my camera!’
Mabel: ‘I am taking more photos of you, Mama!’
Alice: ‘Yes, I see that, darling. Careful! You’re getting all we…’
Mabel: ‘MAAAAAAAMMMMMMAAAAAAAAA! MY DORA T-SHIRT IS WET!’
Alice: ‘Oh, sweetheart, well, uh, just give me a minute to get the shampoo out of my eyes, hmm?’
Theo: ‘Mama I am taking a photo of your bum! AH HA HA’
Mabel: ‘I am taking a photo of your bum too!’
Alice: ‘I am so lucky’.
No photo today, dears. I’m sure you can’t imagine why.
Alice: ‘Stop! I see you, Theodore. Put that apple back!’
Theo: ‘But I want it!’
Alice: ‘I think you want it with your eyes, Bubba. But you don’t like the taste of them, remember?’
Theo: ‘I do like them! I want to eat it!’
Alice: ‘I know it’s beautiful, darling. But you are going to take one bite out of that thing and then tell me it’s yucky.’
Theo: ‘I’M NOT!’
This goes on for some time. I have already given Partially-Eaten-Apple Shortcakes to all and sundry. Maybe I’ll stew this lot?
Mabel: ‘Stop it you guys! Look! I’m jumping on my bum!’
Ever the peacemaker, however unorthodox.
Theo turns to me.
Theo: ‘…I don’t like it…’
Theo: ‘Mama; I’ve got some good news and some bad news.’
Alice: ‘Oh, really Bubba? What’s the good news?’
Theo: ‘The good news is I’ve changed it into bad news and the bad news is I’ve changed it into good news.’
I don’t know either. But I take all the good news I can get.