Dear Dave

Wednesday 20 August 2008

Just when I thought it was over

Dear Dave,

Can you hear that?

Yes, that. The high-pitched whining sound. It's been giving me a headache for about a month and a half now. I've vainly checked the TV and the boiler and all the smoke detectors, but it's not them. The noise follows me around even when I leave the house. I just can't shake it. I think the time has come to admit the true source of the problem.

It's definitely the children.

Yep, after six weeks of summer holidays, communication in our household has failed. The boys' constant wittering about Mario and power stars has merged with the girl's endless musings about pink, sparkly things. All I hear is a ringing in my ears punctuated by the word 'Daddy'. They, meanwhile, have managed to phase me out so successfully that only the phrases 'chocolate', 'Oh, look! A bag of presents!' and 'I've just phoned the Child Catcher. He's on his way,' provoke a response.

We all need a little break from each other.

Today was supposed to be the day - the day that playground gates are thrown open, teachers trudge back to work and parents dance along the street. No such luck, however. Some of the support staff at school are on strike and the new term has been postponed until tomorrow.

I only found out yesterday afternoon. I was dismayed. Technically it's merely one more day on top of weeks and weeks of holiday but I felt like an Olympic marathon runner being told I actually needed to do TWO laps of the stadium right as I came up to the line. I was looking forward to a nice lie down and suddenly I've got to summon up a final burst of energy.

I shouldn't really complain. The holiday hasn't been too bad - it's been broken up by various trips and the kids have been generally well behaved. It's just that I've started getting tired. Previous holidays have been a break from the daily schedule of ferrying children back and forth to school and clubs. They've been a chance to stay in bed until a bit later and then spend the day in control of our own destinies. (That's to say, we've had the opportunity to squabble over our combined destinies until the children have seen the error of their thinking and finally agreed to whatever plan I suggested in the first place...) As we spent most of the Easter holiday in Belgium, this is the first long stretch of school holiday we've had at home since Marie started nursery. It transpires that the relaxed atmosphere isn't a substitute for my two and a half hours of peace each morning during term-time.

I'm running low on energy and sanity. The boys have been staying up later but it's taken until the last week or so for Marie to learn to entertain herself in the morning rather than burst into our room and demand attention. The boys have responded to every suggestion we leave the house with a loud 'Awwww!'. The girl has started venting her frustration with an "Urghhhhhh!" whenever I refuse her merest whim.

It's time for a little more routine and the chance to mix with more people.

I know you've got another couple of weeks to go before nursery starts again down there in England, and you have my sympathy, but you guys did stop later. Also, it's possible you've had some sunshine this summer. We've had to settle for warmer rain. This has led to us being cooped up more than I'd have liked, adding to the craziness. It's all summed up in a conversation I had with Marie the other day:

We'd popped to the shops and been caught out by yet another shower. Marie had been wearing sandals. "Are your socks wet?" I asked her when we got home.

She looked confused. "I'll need to touch them," she replied and started to bend over.

"Don't do that," I said hurriedly, trying to prevent the possibility of muddy puddle water transferring to her fingers. "Do your feet feel wet?"

"No," she said, still bending over. "Only my hands feel wet."

I sighed. "From touching your socks?"

"Yes!" she said excitedly and did a squishy little dance.

I shook my head, counted to ten under my breath and went to find a towel. I could really have done with a few minutes sitting down with a cup of coffee and a good book, though. After six weeks, we're all winding each other up too easily.

Thankfully, school should run as normal tomorrow. If not, I'm going to send them all to work down the mine. That'll teach them.

I'm not sure what it will teach them, exactly, but as long as it stops the whining, I don't mind that much...

Yours in a woman's world,



Anonymous said...

Noo! They can't cancel a school day on a whim! That should be illegal.

Good luck tomorrow. May all your school day dreams come true.

DadsDinner said...

Thanks, Jen.

At least I found out the day before. Not sure how many people turned up on the day to dump their kids, only to find the school gates padlocked and a little notice saying, 'Try again tomorrow.'

I suspect it was quite a few.