Parenting: taking the rough with the smooth

Picture the scene: It’s after 5pm. I’ve just lugged six full, heavy bags for life into the kitchen following the weekly grocery shop. (Disclaimer: actually Two and Three lugged some of them). I’m looking at them wearily, making a mental list of everything that needs to happen all at once, right now.

Snapshot of my brain at that moment:

– Unpack the shopping, targeting the things I bought for tonight’s meal first as I need to start cooking it NOW.

– Why didn’t I have the sense to put tonight’s ingredients all together in one bag?

– Oh bugger. I bought frozen puff pastry, like I always do, but I need it right now. I knew I needed it right now. Why didn’t it occur to me it would still be frozen ten minutes after I bought it…?

– Right. Defrost programme on the microwave. Go.

– Keep unpacking bags. Good grief, this kitchen is a mess. Put the oven on. Get out the flour. Run a load of water in the bowl for washing up all the stuff I left earlier on. What are the kids bickering about in the other room?

Sudden high pitched, over dramatic scream that could only have come from Three. Loud sobbing.

I leave my multitasking in the kitchen and go to find out what is going on. Two has hit her with his cardboard axe. I gather he was doing it as a joke but she overreacted somewhat which then wound him up.

In my tired and frazzled state, I get cross. “Why on EARTH did you hit your sister?” My voice sounds frustrated, unsympathetic.

I expect a response along the lines of ‘well, she started it… etc etc’. Instead, he loses his temper spectacularly, puts his face right up to hers, squeals at full volume, then hits her again with the cardboard axe so hard that it breaks and the cardboard axe head falls to the floor.

I march him out of the door and send him upstairs. He stomps off and slams his door.

I spend a little longer placating the cardboardly wounded eight year old, who isn’t actually hurt, just horribly upset (and definitely a drama queen), before retiring back to the kitchen to contemplate the million and one things I was trying to do, nerves shattered, all semblance of calm vanished.

Some days I swear I can feel my hair turning grey, strand by strand, under the purple dye.

I had already told the children in no uncertain terms that no way were they allowed to have any chocolate before their tea. I broke my own rules and broke into my own chocolate as I rolled pastry, chopped vegetables, opened tins, washed the pots, put away the rest of the shopping and vented on Twitter (my goodness, Twitter is FABULOUS for venting in 140 characters).

Half an hour later, the food was cooking, the chocolate was a few squares smaller, the kitchen was tidyish and my equilibrium was restored.

By the time we all sat down to tea, I had come up with a plan for bribery incentive.

“RIGHT. As you all know, I’ve bought Belgian waffles for pudding, to have with ice cream, golden syrup and chocolate sauce. If everyone can sit around the table and eat harmoniously, we will all enjoy that. If we can’t do that, then they can easily wait for another day…”

I had uttered the magic words.

Everyone was nice to each other. We chatted, we smiled, Three offered to mend Two’s cardboard axe for him (he decided he’d rather do it himself, but it was a kind gesture under the circumstances!).

At one point towards the end of the main course, someone said something slightly pointed to someone else. I now can’t remember who or what.

“Remember everyone, we need HARMONY…” I prompted them.

Without pause for breath, all three children instantly began to sing ‘aaaaaaaaaaaaaah’ – settling swiftly into a tuneful triad chord.

I collapsed in giggles over my almost empty plate. Everyone else started to giggle as well. They think it is hilarious when I sink into mock despair.

“Mum”, said One, “You do have the most awesome children ever, don’t you?”

Yep. I can only agree.

We had our Belgian waffles. The evening was turned around completely and everyone went to bed smiling.

As will I, shortly, when I’ve finished this mug of tea.

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