On Friday afternoon, the Princess’s schoolfriend L came round to visit. We had arranged that L’s mother would take both girls back to her house around the corner later in the afternoon while I went to collect the boys from the creche (Mr. Waffle being stuck late at work). As she departed (in her Cinderella dress), L asked whether the Princess was staying in her house. This was something L’s mother and I had discussed but not for that evening. L’s mother said that she could, if I agreed. Upon being importuned, I agreed and send her off with her toothbrush, doggy, a pair of pyjamas and the confident knowledge that we would have to collect her later when she realised the enormity of the undertaking. She has only spent one night apart from both parents in her whole life.
At 8.10 we sat together on the sofa and telephoned prepared for a tearful Princess. Not a bit of it, she was having a wonderful time and would see us in the morning. Goodnight. We were dumbfounded. Through the night as we got up to ply the boys with milk and to implore them to consider sleeping as a viable alternative to shouting, we passed her empty room with the curtains still drawn and we worried. We needn’t have. I collected her in the morning and she was perfectly composed. Yes, she had a lovely time, thank you.
Saturday afternoon was not satisfactory. Daniel did not nap and our normally sweet tempered middle child was transformed into a screaming nightmare. We went to a toyshop to buy a present for a friend and Daniel fell in love with the model train. We could not get him to leave. In the end his father had to carry him out struggling and bellowing. He’s a big boy, when he struggles it is not a pretty sight. We decided to go to a café. When we came in with our brood, the other patrons looked at us warily, as well they might. I couldn’t get the double buggy past the tables and that was when we should have left but we didn’t. A kind man came and picked up the various items that we had dropped on the floor very slowly. Mr. Waffle controlled the bellowing Daniel. Michael and herself made a bid for freedom. Everybody stared at us. I thanked the kindly customer while silently cursing him for not letting me pick things up myself which would have been much quicker. We installed ourselves. I took Daniel upstairs to change him. He screamed. Michael would not be separated from me. He screamed. I brought the two boys up the narrow winding stairs together. I changed Daniel he perked up and stopped howling briefly. We were on a knife edge though. We got back to the table. I took off his hat. He screamed. I put it back on and he stopped but not before, to my mortification, a kind American lady at another table had given us a book to read to him. We decided that I had better take Daniel home. Michael refused to countenance my leaving without him. I left with the boys. Daniel would only leave on condition he got back to the train. We went back to the toyshop. Michael was very good about leaving. Daniel was not. It took all of my strength to put his writhing person back in the buggy. We went home. All very tiring.
On Sunday morning we went to Mass where the Princess informed me in loud tones, just after the consecration, as the church was silent that she hates Mass. While, I can sympathise, I am not yielding. Not yet, anyway. Also, I’m hoping to cure them of the habit they all have of shying away when I put holy water on their foreheads. Why is it only Protestants have Sunday school?
On Sunday afternooon, we dropped the Princess off for a party at a friend’s house or, more accurately, at the house of friends of ours whose daughter the Princess could probably not identify in a line out. I felt a bit nervous about this as almost all the other guests were from the birthday girl’s class in school but it passed off peacefully. I am now quite impressed by my daughter’s independence. While she was at the party, her father and I briefly regained our sanity and then woke the boys from their nap and took them to the park on their tricycles. When we collected the Princess, I was particularly struck by the utter lawlessness of the little boys at the party. There were two who were screaming and jumping on balloons and a number who were thumping. I am not sure whether this behaviour is unique to boys in this school (it’s one of these schools that encourages the development of the whole child – I have a traditional view about these things, so sue me) or, as I fear, absolutely typical of four year old boys. I can’t wait until I have two of my own to let loose on an unsuspecting world.
And finally, this afternoon, our childminder called me to say that she was sick, so I took the afternoon off and came home to mind the troops who were suitably gratified to see me.
I was in the kitchen dispensing food and I heard Daniel say not nice. I turned around and to my horror saw that he and Michael had bitten through a packet of calgonit and ingested a quantity of same which Daniel was spitting out. It’s not clear to me whether Michael tried it or decided against.
Much panic ensued. The Princess was saintly and entertained her brothers while I rang their father, the paediatrician and then the poisons helpline (he had the number to hand). The lady on the poisons helpline was very helpful (much more so than the Calgonit website which I have been scouring since) and said that it was more an irritant than poisonous. I said that they both seemed fine but she said that the effects might not be visible immediately and to watch out if they started to cry or wouldn’t eat. Not conclusive symptoms, I fear.
I am watching them like an anxious mother hawk.