Every time I am left on my own with the children for an evening, it turns into a disaster. Witness tonight.
6.30 Arrive home. All is well.
6.35 Telephone rings, it is the children’s father ringing to say goodnight. Daniel wants to answer the telephone, the Princess gets it. He bites her hard. I remonstrate. He cries, she cries and Michael says placidly into the phone “Papa”.
7.00 Michael decides he wants to go to bed and starts wandering around the house with his doudou, nounours and a bottle clutched between his lips. Daniel gets into the bath which due to his insistence that the taps remain on is sufficiently deep for him to swim in and therefore requires my anxious presence.
7.05 The childminder and her two children come back looking for something she has forgotten. The children are perplexed but excited. Daniel gets out of the bath and drips around the house after them. The Princess gets into her pyjamas unbidden, I am delighted. All is under control.
7.30 The boys are in bed. The Princess and I go to make our dinner (the boys have eaten earlier with the childminder, I am not a bad mother).
7.45 The boys begin to howl. The Princess goes and gives them a bottle. They are clearly all enjoying this.
7.50 I sing to the boys in their darkened room while the Princess makes the noise of a cackling witch outside. Our mood is interrupted and I go outside and yell at her highness. All is silence except for a hysterical giggle.
8.00 The Princess brings the boys their third bottles of the night.
8.15 We eat. Well, I eat, the Princess refuses my offering and has salami from the fridge instead. Shortly after she brings a record fourth bottle to Daniel.
8.20 The Princess goes to wash her teeth and I hear an anguished roar from the boys’ room. Apparently a litre of milk is Daniel’s upper limit and he has got sick. I carry him to the parental bedroom while he liberally bespatters the corridor, me, the clean clothes in the basket and himself with vomit.
8.30 The Princess is a bit of a star and brings water and sponges as I mop up and change Daniel and put him in our bed. She then goes to wash her face while I change Daniel’s bed clothes and clean up the vomit with the aid of several floor cloths and some wipes to try to get out the bits between the floorboards. For the duration, Daniel burbles happily from our bed, where he is feeling much better and Michael screams bitterly from his bed that he wants to get up. He feels that there is fun elsewhere. Sensing that I am implacable, his screams turn to “Méchante Maman!”.
8.45 The Princess’s face washing has been over-enthusiastic. She is soaked to the skin. We put on new pyjamas but while doing so doggy falls into the toilet. He will have to be washed. This news is greeted with displeasure.
8.50 The Princess is finally in bed. Michael appears to have fallen asleep in exhaustion but Daniel is still wide awake. I offer to read the Princess’s story. She wants an Angelina book with a stage. She starts moving the cut out Angelina and friends around the stage and insists that I stay to watch. After ten minutes of this, I abandon her to it. As I leave her room I hear Daniel chatting hopefully to the by now comatose Michael “Where hibou, Michael, MICHAEL?”
9.00 I put on the washing machine. I clean up after dinner, I tidy up a bit. I go to turn off the Princess’s light. She is dutifully snuggled up to bed with the Angelina characters put away but she refuses to let me turn off the light. I decide to leave it as she will be asleep in a minute anyway.
9.15 I go and try to get Daniel to sleep. He is delighted to see me and very chatty. I sing to him, he talks to me: “Mama singing”. The phone rings: “what’s that”. “It’s the phone never mind.” We both hear the Princess getting up to answer it: “what’s that”. We hear the sound of the Princess padding round the flat. I put Daniel back to bed. He howls, Michael stirs. The Princess is starting to cry.
9.30 I go out to the Princess: “I thought I was all alone”. I comfort her, put her back to bed and assure her that we would never leave her all alone. She looks at me balefully – and you haven’t washed my doggy yet either. I go and wash doggy.
9.40 She’s asleep, the boys are asleep. I start typing.
10.00 My husband returns from his labours. I think he might like a cup of tea but he’ll have to read this first.