This evening, I described our weekday mornings thus to my husband and daughter.
At 6.15 Michael rouses his parents from sleep with sounds of indignation. Mr. Waffle says to me “You stay in bed, I’ll get him”. Somewhat to his surprise and mild resentment, I invariably accept this invitation. My will power is nil and I am not a morning person. I find that this always gets the day off to a good start.
Michael howls in continuing indignation that his Mummy has not come to fetch him and I put my head under the pillow and snuggle up to the duvet. Mr. Waffle puts Michael in the playpen and showers and shaves in precisely 30 seconds. Daniel wakes up and by this time the guilt is too great to bear and I usually stagger out of bed about 6.45. The second he sees me, Michael starts to scream. I pick him up and he stops. Daniel and Mr. Waffle continue about their business (sucking on a toy and eating breakfast respectively) ignoring this touching scene. Mr. Waffle then prepares porridge for the boys and straps them into their high chairs. They squeal and reject the porridge with contumely. I feed the boys some Rice Krispies. Michael sits on my lap and Daniel stands holding on to my chair looking up at me hopefully. The Rice Krispies are always a disappointment to him and he spits them out on the floor.
The Princess gets up. I say, “I think I’ll have my shower”. Mr. Waffle says to the Princess “Que-ce que tu veux manger, ma puce?” The Princess ignores him.
“Princesse, Papa t’a posé une question.”
Me: She’ll have Rice Krispies.
Mr. Waffle pours out Rice Krispies and adds milk.
Her: Mummy is today a school day?
Me: Yes, honey.
Her: I don’t want to go to school and then (transferring her attention to her breakfast), no, don’t want, I want Corn Flakes.
Mr. Waffle’s face acquires the set look that characterises his morning appearance and he puts Corn Flakes in a bowl.
Him (severely): T’auras encore quand tu as fini ce qu’est dans ton bol.
Her (collapsing into loud sobs): No, je veux MAINTENANT.
Me: Look, just give her some more cornflakes. I’m going to have my shower.
Princess looks at Mr. Waffle in triumph and I hot foot it to the bathroom pursued by a weeping Michael crawling at speed. Daniel continues phlegmatically chewing on a plastic toy. I spend three hours in the bathroom showering and flood the floor while Michael sits outside wailing and head butting the door. From the distance I hear the sound of the Princess bawling hysterically about some fundamental right which has been breached “non, je ne veux PAS du lait dans mes corn flakes”.
I emerge from the bathroom swathed in towels and rescue Michael (sodden of course from the flooded floor and his ocean of tears) and comb my hair and put on make-up with him in my arms (“Michael, let go of the comb, ok so, you have it and I’ll put on some mascara, Jesus where are all the teeth, have you eaten them, open your mouth, open your mouth, ow, don’t bite, stop it”). Daniel is now sucking peaceably on a wooden toy. “Daniel, honey, you’re the best boy”. I am rewarded by a beaming smile and an invitation to suck on his toy.
Meanwhile, a dressing drama is unfolding in the Princess’s bedroom.
Mr. Waffle: Tu mets tes vêtements!
Her: Non, je ne veux pas.
Mr. Waffle: Tes chaussettes vont sur tes oreilles.
Me: That’s right, your socks go on your ears.
Princess puts socks on her ears.
Her: J’ai une idée, peut-être ils vont sur mes pieds.
She puts on her socks and runs around the house clad only in socks until forcibly brought back to base.
Mr. Waffle (face becoming increasingly set): Princesse, mets tes vêtements.
Me (putting down Michael): Come here sweetheart.
Her (eluding my grasp and giggling hysterically): No, I don’t want.
Michael: Somebody put me down waah, waah.
Daniel: Would anybody like to suck on this excellent book?
Me: Don’t be cross with her.
Mr. Waffle: I have been up since 6.15, would it be too much to ask that I might get to work on time? (sets off in hot pursuit).
Mr. Waffle: Si tu mets pas tes vêtements, c’est le coin colère.
Princess howling hysterically and, with a great show of reluctance, puts on her clothes.
Mr. Waffle: Bravo, mets ton manteau.
Her: NON, je ne veux pas.
Me: Sweetheart, please put on your coat.
Her: NO. It’s not cold.
Me: Well, it is very mild for late October…
Mr. Waffle (eyeing me menacingly addresses the Princess): Tu mets ton manteau.
Grumbling the while, she does.
Mr. Waffle: Où est ton cartable?
Her: Je veux l’autre cartable.
Me: Sweetheart, what’s wrong with the green bag?
Her: I want the red one.
Me: But why?
Her: Because I don’t like the green one anymore.
While Mr. Waffle, snorting with indignation, takes Daniel to be changed, I put down Michael and move her school things from the green bag to the red bag.
Michael: Waah, waah, waah, I don’t know whether anyone has noticed but I’m sitting on the floor here.
Kisses all round and the Princess heads out the door all smiles accompanied by Mr. Waffle looking like thunder. I shut the door and sigh with relief.
During this recital to the pair of them over dinner they both laughed and Mr. Waffle said “will we try to be nicer to Mama in the morning?” and the Princess said with shining eyes “tell me it again, Mama”.