Some days are like wading through treacle and generally these wading through treacle days seem to fall on a Wednesday so you are not full of the energy [ha] that comes from a well rested [double ha] weekend, nor are you within sight of the Friday evening collapse. And so it came to pass that on Tuesday evening, after a talk with daughter three’s teacher about Year 4 dynamics [on which whole libraries could be written] and a briefing at daughter one’s school on her impending exchange trip, that I retired to bed at a too late hour taking with me my trusty Chromebook to write up an interview. Even as I climbed into bed, I could hear slight wailing coming from only son’s room, which he shares with the light-sleeping daughter two [she refuses to let him sleep anywhere else]. “Mummeeeee,” came the first wail, followed by a slightly protracted, slightly more anxious repeat version. I cuddled him back to sleep and went back to work. When I had almost finished he started coughing then woke up good and proper. I brought him into our bed. He nodded off and I finished the article. A journalist emailed me about whether anywhere any time working helped working mums. It was around 1am at this point.
I settled down for a good night’s sleep. Two hours later I awoke to the sound of something like a loud burp. Only son had been sick all over the duvet. He was very polite. “I’m so sorry for being sick, mum,” he said. My partner and I stripped the bed and only son. I grabbed a bucket. This was where I made a crucial error. I told him: “Say ‘bucket’ if you feel sick.” Over the next hour and a half I think he must have said ‘bucket’ every two minutes, although he was only sick once. Just as he was beginning to get back to sleep, having woken daughter two who has a horror of the norovirus and had been pinned to her bed since 3am, I heard daughter one stumbling up the stairs. “I’ve got a migraine, mum,” she said. I escorted her to daughter three’s spare bed. Eventually, around 5am, we all got to sleep.
Daughter two, who is ruled by her alarm clock, marched in on the dot of 7 to wake us all up with one hand covering her entire face in case she breathed in norovirus. She then retired to bed, so exhausted was she by the night’s exploits. Daughter one was on a go slow because she had been up in the night so missed the bus and had to be taken to school by a very kind neighbour. Only son had a glass of water and promptly threw up again. Daughter three, meanwhile, was rather excited because she was dressing up as Super Fangtastic Girl for Superheroes Day at school. She was also keen to take in the egghead she had made for the annual school egghead competition. Daughter three is a bit of a campaigner and her egg was Nelson Mandelegg. Daughter two had done the entire cast of Wizard of Oz. I suggested she call it Somewhere Ova The Rainbow. She preferred Wizard of Eggs.
It is not the easiest thing in the world escorting a preschooler who could potentially puke at any moment, a Superhero and an assortment of eggheads into school when you have had around three to four hours sleep, but I guess it’s one of those countless skills I should add to my cv, even if I’m not exactly sure what category it would come under. Not communication skills [I think the bucket episode showed a certain lack of skill in that department] and not really time management as time seemed to elongate at various points in the night beyond all human control. In the end most of this parenting stuff seems to be about sheer determination to get to the end of the day or at least to the point where you can sit down for a second and have a hot chocolate. Unless you’re incubating the norovirus, of course…