As if the tea-time routine were not enough for one poor soul to bear; after the verbal diarrhoea of repeatedly pleading for cooked food to be consumed and hydration levels be topped up there’s yet another soul-destroying task to be endured before ‘me time’. Yes, yes I know we’re supposed to bathe in the glow of our love for the little cherubs 24/7, 365 days per year since we’ve been so blessed to receive one from God, delivered by his almighty (and jolly painful) hand, but ‘newsflash’ that ain’t the case.
You see parenting is a double-edged sword. A minefield of seemingly limitless responsibility combined with shelving your human rights between the hours of 6 and 9 on a daily basis for many, many years. Strangely despite this no parent would change things; so go figure! However, we can’t be expected to not rant, whinge or cast dispersions on our front-bottom offerings in the meantime. Nobody got time for that.
Therefore after leaving an apocalyptic mess in the kitchen one must ascend the stairs with food-spackled children and begin ‘THE BEDTIME ROUTINE’; a title fully deserving of upper case. Firstly the ‘big cleanse’. Sometimes a bath or shower or ‘wash, posh and dosh’ (as my sister calls it). Whilst I attempt to separate my two to complete this quickly and efficiently it never seems to happen. Generally one or the other needs ‘a big poo’ and refuses to go to the downstairs toilet preferring instead to sit and narrate everything else happening in a voice borrowed from Brian Blessed. I quickly lose count of the amount of times I say these phrases:
“Get on the toilet then and quiet now please.”
“Get on the step, come on; hands.”
“Have you wiped properly; front to back?”
“Put your hands in the water; both of them, fully in, go on…”
“Leave the tap alone, stop it, just leave it alone until your hands are soapy.”
“Come on move rub them together, you’ve not made any foam, rub them together.”
“Get off the toilet now, I know you’ve finished. And stop shouting please.”
“No leave the tap on now, get the soap off, leave it on.”
“Put your pants back on. Well get them out of the shower. Put them on. Not that way, they’re front to back. Just put them back on right now.”
“Turn it off; it’s spraying everywhere. Don’t block the tap. Just take your hands out. Out. Off.”
“Flush the toilet please, and please stop shouting. You are shouting, now stop it.”
“Here dry your hands.”
“I’m not being mean. You’re disturbing the cows in the field. Ssh. Now wash your hands.”
“Oh for God’s sake why have you put the towel in the sink; it’s soaked?”
“It’s not funny. Come over here, dry your hands again.”
“Wash your hands. Did you flush? I asked you to flush. Look. It’s not flushed; it’s still there, winking at me.”
“Right stand still while I wash your face.”
“Your hands need soap, look they’re covered in food, paint and now possibly poo.”
“Get off your sister’s step please you’re eight.”
“Get off it, you’re tall enough to stand at the sink. Have you washed your hands properly? Let me smell them.”
“Get on the step, here’s your toothbrush now brush your teeth properly.”
“Wash your hands again they don’t smell clean and stand still so I can wash your face. There’s no soap on it. It can’t be in your eyes. It’s just water. Stand still and stop shouting.”
“Brush your teeth not the tiles. Look there’s paste everywhere. Right now I’m going to do them.”
“There’s your brush get yours done too please.”
“It is your brush. She hasn’t used it. Look I’m using hers, it’s in her mouth right now. Now get on with it and stop shouting.”
“Right your done. Go into your bedroom please. Your bedroom. Go on…”
“Have you finished your teeth? You can’t need another poo…well hurry up, then wash your hands; again and stop shouting I’m not being mean, for the love of God we’ve been in here for 20 minutes already!”
After this ‘joyous’ experience it’s cajoling into pyjama’s that invariably they ‘don’t like’, ‘are not comfortable’, ‘look stupid in’. Like Kevin Spacey in ‘The Negotiator’ I will spend an inordinate amount of time I’ll never get back to persuade them to put on whatever I’ve put out for them whilst wondering if securing five million dollars and a private jet to take them to Rio might just be easier. At this point; I’m usually sweating, have a mild sore throat and the unpleasant realisation that whilst they continue to live at home I’ll always have a fat belly on account of all the Cortisol my body is releasing. Now I must convince them with a nurturing, kind voice that television at this time is not a good idea and that pre-bed wind-down must only involve a book, soothing maternal voice and a cuddly toy.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BLOODY TELEVISION I SAID. I KNOW I SAID BLOODY, I’M AN ADULT, IT’S ALLOWED. I CAN SAY SWEAR WORDS AD INFINITUM UNTIL I KEEL OVER AND DIE BECAUSE I’VE EARNED THE RIGHT AND PAID IN OVER-INFLATED MORTGAGE REPAYMENTS, GROSSLY UNFAIR COMMUNITY CHARGES AND NO CAREER ADVANCEMENT WHATSOEVER IN THE LAST TWENTY SHITTING YEARS. YES I KNOW SHIT IS A SWEAR WORD AND HERE’S ANOTHER GET THE FUCK INTO BED SO I CAN READ YOU A WONDERFUL BEDTIME FABLE ABOUT WOODLAND TWATTING ANIMALS BEING FRIENDS, FORAGING AND FROLICKING IN THE TAX-FREE HAVEN OF THEIR FOREST LAND. OKAY?”
Best of luck Mummy’s…sleep well.