Friday, 5 December 2008

It's all a matter of timing...

...for example:

Scenario One

Me: "How's sorting out your expenses going?"

Husband: (Heavy sigh). "I'm getting there. But God. It's just so like... so like... manual labour."

I look up at him from where I am kneeling on the floor on my hands and knees, hanging up his just-washed socks on the airer. "REALLY."

Scenario Two

Wednesday morning, 8.05am, the street outside our house. It's 0 deg C. The car is covered in a thick layer of frost. The Boys are complaining about the cold. I've just started the engine to get the blowers working inside it, have fastened the little cherubs into their seats, and unearthed the de-icer aerosol - thinking, gosh, aren't I clever to have remembered about this? - from the boot.

I liberally spray the front windscreen, wait a few seconds, and decide I should probably start the windscreen wipers to get things moving.

Should you ever be in this situation, sit inside the car to do this. Do not reach in through the open door and flip the lever whilst standing by the driver door. That way a faceful of de-icer lies...

Scenario Three

When heading for the kitchen late in the evening to tidy up, alway ensure you make plenty of noise as you approach the closed door. That way the mouse (singular? I can only hope) has plenty of warning to jump under the kitchen units without being seen. If you don't do the clompy clompy thing, you will see it, shriek like a (much younger) girl, wake your sons, and spend the next hour - once they are asleep again - worrying about your house being taken over by rodents. Which of course it is, but we live in London and frankly, if you live here and think you don't have mice? You probably still believe in Santa.

Scenario Four

6.45am, Thursday morning, just after the alarm went off. A sobbing figure appears at our bedroom door...

Boy #1: "Gaaaaaaaaaaaaah..... gaaaaaaaah....!!!!!"

Me (Husband is in the bathroom): "What on earth is the matter, darling?"

Boy #1: "Zwarte Piet..... Sinta Klaas.... the carrots in the shoes... He didn't come!"

Oh. S. H. I. T.

Stoking the fire ever higher in the pre-Sinta Klaas excitement for Saturday, Husband had suggested the Boys each leave a shoe by the fireplace with a carrot in the previous evening. This is an old Dutch Sinta Klaas tradition, and the idea is that one of the Sint's helpers, Zwarte Piet (see this post for details of who on earth I'm on about) visits and, if the boys have been good, leave the shoes filled with sweets and biscuits.

Guess what we forgot to do before going to bed the previous evening?

We did manage to rescue the situation, thank heavens. Unbeknownst to me, Husband had heard the commotion, realised what it was about, sneaked out of the bathroom, done the deed in the sitting room, and came back to our room without being spotted... (James Bond 'r' Us). He pointed out in his most authoritative tone that it was still dark outside, and Zwarte Piet could come anytime before daylight. He couldn't get there earlier because he had to come all the way from Holland, remember? Boy #1 looked sceptical. Suddenly...

Husband: "Sssh! Ssssh! Did you hear that?"

Boy #1: "What? What, Papa?"

Husband: "There's someone on the roof!"

Me: "No. No. You're imagining it... Wait. What's that?"

Husband: "Yes - there it is again!"

Boy #1: "I hear it! I hear it too!"

And what do you know? When he and his sleepy brother went into the sitting room 5 minutes later, Zwarte Piet HAD BEEN!

God, I love blogging. When I started writing this post 30 minutes ago, I felt as if I was drowning in the tedious same-ness of being a Stay At Home Mum. Don't misunderstand me, it's my choice, I truly believe it's right for our family that I be here, but sometimes? Sometimes, as I take yet another load of washing to the machine, unpack yet another supermarket shop, make another school run, or tread shoe-less on yet another sharp and spikey metal die-cast toy, I just want to bang my head against a brick wall. And then run screaming into the nearest office, shouting "Employ me! Please! I'll do anything, even spreadsheets!"

Now, though, having written all this down, my sense of perspective - and my sense of humour - have returned. So, I'll say it again.

It's all a matter of timing.

(PS - I hadn't planned on that last bit. But I hope you'll forgive me - I think it works).


  1. Ha, I love this post! You made me laugh a lot about the mouse... we have a mouse too. Or three. Although (and I say this in disbelief) we also have one of those sonic mouse repellers and... the blighters have moved into the flat upstairs. I think.

  2. We had a school bus driver who used to alleviate the boredom of sitting in a traffic jam for us, by using his badly adjusted windscreen washer to spray people standing in bus queues.

    Irrelevant story, but your de-icer experience reminded me.

    I love the way Husband managed to rescue the situation. Alternatively, you could just have played the disciplinarian card: "well, Zwarte Piet obviously thinks you haven't been good enough for him to leave you anything. You'll have to get better at eating up your dinner, and doing what I tell you as soon as I say it, otherwise Santa might not come at Christmas either".

  3. Love your style, Iota! Well rescued Husband of PM. (That one reminds me of all the forgetful tooth fairy excuses I've had to come up with. (And there is me thinking I have no imagination for fiction writing...)

    I love the first one PM. Reminds me of the time my husband rang while he was away working overseas. Only he had a weekend off, and was on a gondola in some place in southern China. Wanted to tell me all about it. Bad timing. One of the kids had been sick, and I was, right that moment, cleaning up spew (an all over the floor spew...) (He's never heard the end of that one.)

    Oh and (sorry, this is so long...) but the stay at home mum thing? I had a personal triumph this morning - someone asked me what work I did, and I replied that I've been CEO Domestic Affairs for the past 15 years. It worked beautifully.

  4. Yes, it really is worth staying at home with your children if it's at all possible. I've never regretted it and I don't think my boys did either - even though, for us, me being a stay-at-home Mum meant childminding other children. The boys learnt tolerance and consideration for others and both of them are really good with babies. Still waiting for grandchildren though...

    Well saved on the Zwarte Piet situation. Did the boys have clogs especially for this?

    We had a mouse episode last year and got some traps that actually conceal the decidedly not dearly departed rodent. No mess and no spiky bits for little people to stumble upon. Seem, touch wood, to have won that battle by blocking all the tiny gaps/holes around the perimeter of the house with scrunched up wire wool, they can't chew through that.

    Oh and yuk, nasty cold weather, so not missing that, well apart from Christmas and Boxing Days when I'm expected to cook a full roast in very high temperatures! Fingers crossed it won't be too bad this year as the long range forecast for Summer is cooler and wetter than usual. Anything has to be better than last year's 40C+

  5. You have comic timing, PM, and made me smile all over. Especially about the carrots still being in the shoes. You told that story just right.

  6. Brilliant post, PM. You're right, blogging makes it all feel better in allowing you to laugh at these ridiculous situations.

    I laughed at the mouse - I also do the clompy clomp thing. However, we have just had a new floor put down to replace our disgusting old lino, and I think maybe mice don't like porcelain-effect tiles, because they haven't been back recently....

  7. Sparx - we have two of those repellers. And mice too. It's true, we really DO have everything in kensington and chelsea...

    Iota, I thought about your alternative approach, believe it or not. But then I realised that a) we would have sobbing all the way through getting dressed, breakfast, and the school run, and b) it was the morning of his play, and decided a lesson in the school of hard knocks could wait. Until the next time we forget...

    Tracey - title noted and stored for future use!

    Sharon, I'm trying very hard to feel sorry for you with the 40 deg thing... Still trying... No. Sorry, nothing(!)

    Thanks Irene. And it's good to hear that from someone who actually knows what on earth I'm talking about!

    NVG, thankyou! And as for the mice, I hate to say it but perhaps they just got sneaker, and stopped wearing heels so you can't hear them?

  8. we're joining you with the mice as well; dig ejected a baby today, which confirms our suspicions about the family business. but now of course the entire house is in uproar, weeping and wailing for the poor little thing cast out into the cold...

  9. You nailed it on the head. Why we blog. A bit of sanity.

    LOVED this post BTW -- especially the bit about maunal labour. HA!

  10. Grit, I feel for you. Our boys do know we put poison out for the mouse(s), but they think it's just to scare them off... If only!

    Thanks, MM. And yes, they have no idea do they?

  11. The windscreen wiper thing ... I did that this week. Face full of snow. I couldn't get warm all day after that!

  12. Hi Potty, good work on getting in there at the last minute.

    I am with you on the "Stay at home Mummy" thing today. In the last half an hour alone I have mopped up two full spilt drinks, caught a poo mid way in my hand (still warm) and thrown away half a beautifully cooked lasagne (I had washed my hands btw).

    Why do we do it again?

    BM x

  13. oh you touch a nerve PottyM, the soul destroying tedium of house crap. Banging head against a wall, i may try that one day. I'm interested that you'd be prepared to consider spreadsheets, you seem to have got to a very low ebb, maybe some therapy could help?

    I'm liking the bullish attitude towards the mice, of COURSE everyone has mice in London! I have the solution tho, tempt an owl to come and live under your eaves. if you are ground floor and don't have eaves, perhaps create some out of papier mache, then tempt the owl (somehow)to come and live there. Granted, the owl pellets and shit all down your outside wall is not a good look, BUT i reckon it would reduce your mouse problem.


  14. and btw, do you not live in dread of the day they realise you've been lying to them in an incredibly elaborate way for all these years?? I do...

  15. Laura - you're just showing off with the snow thing now...

    BM - bleeeeeeuuuuuuurrrrrggghhhhh!
    (That's for the poo thing, btw).

    Pig, we live in a basement. In central London. But I may still give the owl thing a go. And as for dreading the day the Boys work out the depth of our deception, I'm hoping self interest in the 'let's string the parents along for as long as possible that we still believe so we can get more presents' vein might help out here...

  16. I didn't mean it, by the way. The hard knocks approach when it comes to Christmas is truly for the hard-hearted parent.

  17. Lovely post PM - and I have mice too. Am hoping to have finally killed it off - but I do like Pig's idea of an owl. If you see an owl flap being installed in a house in Fulham - you'll know why!

  18. Great save by your husband! This whole post made me grin. The part about the windshield though? Have done this...more than once. Very sad that I never learn my lesson.

    I thought the part at the end fit really nicely with the rest of the post. As a working mom I sometimes wish I could be like you, staying at home with my little guy instead of going to work and leaving him first with his dad (which is OK) and then with a sitter (even though it is only four hours a day).

    Today I had to leave a crying 2-year old who was used to having his mommy all weekend. Mondays are so bad for us. He clung to me and cried and sobbed and I tried to act like I was OK but then I got into the car and cried and wished I didn't have to go.

    There are days I feel like he isn't getting the best of me, you know? I'm at work part of the day, but my mind is at home with my little guy. Oh! And I get to leave now to go home and have lunch with him so gotta go!

  19. It does work.....and that's why I love blogging too!

  20. Iota - we knew that. (And no-one was going to tell your kids, even if you did mean it!)

    Mud, an owl 'flap'... Is that a pun? Whatever, a good idea, you should probably patent it.

    J's Mommy - four hours a day is not a lot. Look at it this way; Boy #2 is in nursery 3 x 5 1/2 hours. It's pretty much the same. So no guilt!

    NH Mum - we should start the blogging sisterhood. Or did we do that already without realising?


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