18.25: Arrive home from the office.
18.26: The Princess comes screaming along the corridor wearing an outfit that my sister brought her from India telling me to get out “I was going to be Chamsous Saba as a surprise, go away”. Chamsous Saba is the Princess from the film “Azur et Asmar” and she has been our ‘mostly companion’ recently. This picture may give some idea why this character is so particularly appealing to her imperial majesty.
18.27: The boys realise I am home and start wailing to be picked up. The Princess continues resolutely trying to thrust me back out the front door.
18.28: Mr. Waffle arrives home and the Princess realises that her attempts to dress up and remove her parents at the same time are futile. She collapses in noisy, indignant sobs. The boys continue to wail in the background. Mr. Waffle and I struggle to remove our coats.
18.29: The childminder and her daughter leave, though not before placating the Princess with the offer of a bun.
18.30: Mr. Waffle goes to the bedroom to change. The Princess eats her bun thoughtfully. The boys climb all over me.
18.31: Daniel indicates clearly that he would like some of the Princess’s bun. I ask her to share.
18.34: The Princess, with great reluctance, hands over a morsel of bun “I hope he won’t choke on it” she says sagely, shaking her head. “Of course he won’t” I say.
18.35: Daniel chokes on the bun and vomits copiously, he appears to have had something orange for dinner. He gets the floor and me. The Princess runs off in terror.
18.36: Mr. Waffle comes running from the bedroom in his underwear to placate the Princess and stop Michael playing in the vomit. I take Daniel in to the bathroom and start cleaning him up. I run the bath and put him into it.
18.40: Mr. Waffle brings in Michael and adds him to the bath. He is a cross, tired little boy and will only stop crying if given his toothbrush in the bath. The Princess deems this to be incorrect, prises it from him and runs off. I cannot leave the bathroom as the two boys are in the bath. Mr. Waffle is wiping up vomit in the other room.
18.43: Michael’s howling begins to affect Daniel. They are now both standing up in the bath, red in the face and howling.
18.48: Mr. Waffle returns. We haul them out of the bath and bring them to their bedroom, still roaring. “Why isn’t anybody paying attention to me?” the Princess asks in hysterical tones. “Goo, goo, I’m a baby too. I want a bokkle!”
18.55: The boys are put to bed.
18.56: Daniel starts to cry and I go back to bedroom to rock him to sleep in my arms. Mr. Waffle takes the Princess to the bathroom and puts her in the bath.
19.15: Both boys are asleep, the Princess is still luxuriating in her tepid bath (if at all possible, she would like the bathwater to be freezing).
19.16: Mr. Waffle goes to work on dinner, I haul the Princess out of the bath and, using this moment of calm, finally manage to remove my vomit spattered suede (alas) skirt. I dry her and put on her pyjamas.
19.20: Mr. Waffle reappears in the bathroom holding a small damp pair of tights and an underpants which he has discovered somewhere on the premises. “Did you have an accident, sweetheart?” “Yes”. “Where?” “On the couch”. Excellent. “It wasn’t a big wee” she said placatingly “it didn’t get very wet”.
19.25: We sit down to dinner. “It’s just like last night’s dinner” the Princess says suspiciously. In this, she is correct. We had roast chicken on Sunday and we had cold roast chicken yesterday. I can see how this might be a problem, if you had also had chicken sandwiches for lunch. I ask what she would like. “You decide, you’re the grown-up, did you forget that?”.
19.26: I ask the Princess whether she brought her lunch box home from school. She insists on getting it to show me though I was quite prepared to take her word for it.
19.29: Mr. Waffle observes that the Princess has eaten none of her dinner. She rubs her fingers in the gravy and sucks them. Mr. Waffle puts his head in his hands.
19.30: The Princess announces she wants her penguin mug. We get it. Mr. Waffle puts a little water in. She wants more. I put in more. She laughs delightedly.
19.35: The Princess announces that she is not hungry. “Then”, we say “it is time for bed”. It transpires that she is hungry after all. She eats painfully slowly. We discuss in some detail my failure to transmit to her or her father the information that she was supposed to wear red to school that day. I forgot. The following day is a blue day. We are all prepared for that. Though, as Mr. Waffle points out, if there were a pink day, she would really come into her own.
19.55: We decide that the Princess has had enough. We certainly have. I announce that I am putting her to bed. She clings pathetically to her father and says “Please, Daddy, put me to bed, I don’t like Mummy.” We prise her loose and I take her to the bathroom. She asks hopefully “If I’m bold for you, will Daddy put me to bed?”.
20.05: She turns on the light outside the boys’ room. “Don’t” I hiss furiously “you’ll wake them up, turn it off, right now”. She doesn’t. “If you don’t turn it off, your gold shoes will go ‘hors jeu’”. She laughs manically “I really want my gold shoes to go ‘hors jeu’”. I wonder whether this is working. Mr. Waffle grimly places her beloved gold shoes in the pampers’ box set aside for confiscated toys. She skips into the bathroom. I turn off the light in the corridor.
20.10: She refuses to wash her teeth. She sticks her hand over her mouth. I get her in a half nelson and try to wash her teeth. She protests vociferously. Mr. Waffle points out, too late, alas, that holding her nose is a good tactic to address this. “I will wash my teeth, if I can have that toothbrush” she says firmly, pointing at Michael’s toothbrush. “But that’s the one he had in the bath” I say feebly “he could have scrubbed his bottom with it or anything”. She giggles uproariously and insists. “I don’t like that toothpaste, do you mind?” she says. I offer her a choice of the three child appropriate and two adult appropriate tubes of toothpastes available in the bathroom. She settles for one of them.
20.20: We go to her room. “What story would you like?” “Spot’s noisy toy box”. In this volume, purchased as a Christmas present for her brothers by kindly relatives, if you push buttons, it makes noise (the clue is in the title). I look nervously across the corridor to where her little brothers are, against the odds, still sleeping peacefully. She changes her mind “I want the little Brown Bear”. I thank God and point out that her pyjama bottoms are falling down. She pulls them up “Now you can’t see my bottom.” “Nope, it’s invisible”. “Like God, my bottom is like God”. She considers “not really like God because my bottom is still there underneath my pyjamas. I can see it, if I want”. I agree that this is correct. She puts out her hand “look, I’m holding God’s hand”. Pause. “Is he here?”. “Yes, God is everywhere” I reply. “Then are there lots of gods?” she asks. “Well, no, though of course, different people believe in different gods” I say feeling myself getting bogged down. “Why don’t we just read about the little brown bear?” I ask chirpily.
20.35: I leave her room and cravenly leave the light on for her to ‘read’. I go to join Mr. Waffle who is wrestling with our ever-growing pile of laundry (vomit covered, for extra flavour).
20.45: Mr. Waffle goes to turn out her light. She wants Mummy. I go. “I want a new Mummy”. “Do you want L’s Mummy?”. “Yes!”. “When I go to school would you like me to collect L instead of you?”. “Yes” she said in slightly less sure tones; then “no, Mummy, I want you”. And, in what seems to me something of a leap of logic, she looked at me dolefully and said “I don’t want you to die Mummy, why won’t you be my Mummy when you’re dead?”. I did my best to reassure her, sang a song and turned out the light.
20.55: Play with the computer.
21.00: Sit down on the sofa with Mr. Waffle to watch University Challenge.
21.10: The Princess knocks on the door in the hall. Mr. Waffle stalks out to deal with her. “Mummy, mummy” she says plaintively and eluding his grasp, she zooms in and wraps herself around me. Her worst suspicions are confirmed as she notes that after she goes to bed not only is the television on but we appear to be eating biscuits as well.
21.15: I bring her into our bedroom and put her into the bed. She is delighted. I return to University Challenge looking at Mr. Waffle somewhat guiltily. I am not proud of this reward for bad behaviour but, you know, there might be an art history round and I could miss my chance to show off.
21.30: I shift uncomfortably on the couch. “You know, it feels wet, could that be possible?” Oh yes, it could, the wee on the couch, of course.
21.35: Mr. Waffle retires to the kitchen to prepare bottles for the night shift.
21.40: Mr. Waffle scoops a sleeping Princess from our bed and returns her to her own.
21.45: Mr. Waffle retires.
22.00: I retire and turn on the light, announcing mutinously to Mr. Waffle that it is a “reading in bed night”. He sighs resignedly.
22.10: Lights out. Everyone asleep.
23.40: Daniel wakes, I go to the kitchen to get him a bottle.
02.00ish: The Princess comes in to our bed, I am unsure of the time as I was sound asleep and her arrival didn’t wake me.
04.30: Daniel wakes, Mr. Waffle goes to the kitchen to get him a bottle. I go to lift the Princess back to her own bed and find she has no pyjama bottoms. I fear the worst (and she hasn’t wet the bed or had an accident in ages). Mr. Waffle gives Daniel his bottle and strips her highness’s bed. I go back to sleep. The Princess continues to sleep the sleep of the just in our bed.
05.30: Michael wakes. I go to get him a bottle. The dining room table is covered in Mr. Waffle’s work papers and the lights are on but there is no sign of the man himself. I go into the kitchen to find him taking clothes out of the washing machine to put in the drier. “I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I could get some work done” he explains.
06.00: Mr. Waffle comes back to bed.
06.30: Michael wakes. I go to get him. He is disastrously wide awake. We go to ring my sister (it’s 11.00am in India) sitting in the soothing dark and carefully avoiding the wet spot on the couch. It is dark and on the speed dial, I inadvertently ring the Novotel in Luxembourg. I am pleased to announce that they are awake and perky at 6.30. My sister, on the other hand, is nowhere to be found. Probably enjoying a four star hotel somewhere. Michael has a happy time bashing me with the telephone receiver for the next while.
07.10: Mr. Waffle arrives in, showered, shaved and dressed. I am speechless with admiration. I hand over Michael and crawl back to bed inadvertently waking the Princess who spends some time poking me in the eyes and mouth.
07.30: The Princess rises from our bed and forces me up also. Daniel is woken by the general noise and howls in indignation. Michael crawls down gleefully to see what’s happening.
07.35: I cravenly retire to the bathroom leaving Mr. Waffle to deal with the troops. At this stage, he presumably makes the Princess’s sandwich, which he dutifully does every morning. If the poor child were relying on me, then she would probably starve to death.
07.50: I could give you the whole morning routine but I’ve already covered it here. Of course, we did have the added excitement of trying to dress herself in blue. She insisted on blue underwear as well, she likes everything to be just so.
08.26: With one thing and another, it is this time before the Princess and Mr. Waffle depart for school. When he arrives, he is severely reprimanded by the scary teacher. The Princess is the 15th late child that morning. All it takes says Madame Tatienne is “un petit effort”. Indeed. Must try harder.