IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE

Mayhem. Manic. Madness. Mental. Monkeys.

So many M words to describe a play centre on a weekend.

To children it’s a happy place to run amok. A place where they can gorge on junk food. A place where they are given more freedom while still under the parental eye. Supposed relaxed parents sit around savouring good coffee nearby. It’s a safe and secure place. Idealistically a parent or carer’s refuge.

In reality, it looks more like a jungle of mayhem with children of all ages running in random directions, hyped up on sugar and a teardrop away from epic tantrums. Obnoxiously loud music reverberates around the cavernous room coupled with the cacophany of sounds from excited children. If you didn’t have a headache upon entering, you’re bound to leave with one.

Once you relinquish your child at the entrance of the gym, sighting them is as rare as a deep sea Oarfish in Japan. Unless of course, you have a toddler that needs your assistance then you must enter the jungle, fight your way through suffocating high and low terrains, breathe in the cloying smell of sweat and inevitable get stuck in some netting.

Not to mention the minefield of social etiquette for ‘playing nice’ and ‘taking turns’ because really, it’s a free-for-all when we’re dealing with young children.

So when I find myself crawling through an uncomfortably small tube after Henry, sweating like I’m dying in Bikram yoga, I momentarily imagine being stuck. I figure at least I might get a quick nap in while management tries to pry my ass out. My daydreaming is shortlived as I see Henry pushing another toddler over. I rush over and grab Henry’s hand from striking the poor kid again, who is wailing on the floor next to his mother.

“I am so sorry. Is your child ok? Henry doesn’t normally hit other kids. I’m not sure why he did that.” I ramble out an apology, make Henry say sorry and hightail away.

After the third victim of Henry’s outlash, I call it day. There is only so much glaring from parents (rightfully so) and apologising I can do.

I drag a screaming and kicking Henry away from the gym.

“Sorry mummy. Sorry, little boy!” Henry wails.

I sigh in defeat as I carry my mad monkey out of this jungle, envisaging a bunch of laughing chimpanzees throwing their poop at the back of my head for not predicting this tantrum.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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FUDGE

Swearing, cussing, cursing, using profanities…

Some say it’s a form of expression. Some say it’s great for social bonding. Some say it’s a democratic right. Some even say it offers stress and analgesic relief!

Most people would agree that it’s considered foul language and that it’s socially unacceptable to swear in front of children. I’ve spent a good number of years retraining myself to say “fudge” instead of “f#@k” and “sugar” instead of “sh*t” so that my kids can keep their virginal ears intact.

I’m not naive. I knew that one day Mandy would learn it from friends or from the schoolyard. I just wasn’t prepared for it to happen so soon.

“Mummy, I know the F word. Teagan told me today,” says Mandy excitedly, like she’s just unwrapped an LOL Surprise. I hate those things.

Astonished with Mandy’s revelation, I spin around to face her, “What F word?” I’m in total denial mode.

“The F word,” Mandy exclaims, using her fingers to air quote.

“Oh the F word,” I say, pretending to understand her meaning. “Yeah fudge is a pretty cool word.”

I turn back to the kitchen counter and absentmindedly prepare dinner. I silently pray for this discussion to end.

“That’s not the F word,” Mandy says with indignation. “Teagan has a sister in grade five, and she told her.”

Mandy pulls me down and whispers conspiratorially, “It’s friggin hell.”

She looks at me for confirmation. I release a huge sigh of relief, “Yes darling, that’s the F word.”

I give her my most serious looking expression. “You are a big girl now Mandy and you will hear bad words that adults sometimes use but it’s important that you don’t use them.”

“Why can adults use bad words but kids can’t?” asks Mandy.

My mind searches for the most appropriate answer but my mouth just blurts out, “Because you’ll get in trouble if the teachers hear you say them.”

Ah sh*t, did I just say that? That’s the best I could come up with? Too late now, I just have to run with it.

I momentarily hold my breath, waiting for a barrage of questions.

Mandy gives me a suspicious look but reluctantly agrees and saunters off.

Phew! Thank ‘fudge’ for small reprieves.

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LAME

Mornings. Every day is the same. The children clamber on top of my slumbered body and I fight a losing battle to stay in bed. I don’t need an alarm. They are overrated. I send my bright-eyed and bushy-tailed kids to the TV for a momentary reprieve. I need to get up but every single fibre of my being battles against my willpower. The warmth of the bed is ever so enticing. I’m not perky in the mornings. In fact, it’s like I wake up on the wrong side of the bed every single day. It’s part of the reason why morning school runs are so much harder for me.

I drag my weary self out of bed and trudge to the kitchen. I am grumpy. Being tired has that effect. I need coffee. The morning is getting on and I need to get Mandy ready for school and Henry ready for library time.

“Mandy! Henry! Breakfast!” I yell out. I hear the stomping of little people from the lounge room to the kitchen.

“Good morning,” I say as cheerfully as I can muster, giving each a kiss.

“Mum, I want noodles,” Mandy demands as she sits on the stool.

I shake my head, “Try again love.”

I plop Henry into his highchair and potter about getting his Weetbix and toast ready.

“Scrambled eggs?” Mandy asks.

“That’s a negative Chief,” I say spreading margarine on the toast.

Mandy huffs and crosses her arms, “What can I have then?!”

I spoon Weetbix into Henry’s mouth and look at Mandy, “We’re running late so you can have a toast or Weetbix.”

Mandy groans dramatically and puts her head onto her arms and slouches on the kitchen countertop. She mumbles something.

“What’s that?” I ask.

“Toast!” Mandy grouses.

“I’m sorry I thought I heard toast but I didn’t hear a please!” I reply, frowning at her lack of manners.

“Please!” Mandy retorts, knowing I wouldn’t give up until she relented.

I make her toast and get myself a cup of coffee. Grant left for work early today. It’s a shame he’s not here to help with breakfast. An ally comes in handy with tough negotiations.

We’re ready and out of the door in record time. It’s a miracle given how slow Mandy eats and the time it takes me to catch Henry for a nappy change. I reverse out of the driveway, make it down to the end of the street when Mandy yells for me to stop. I turn to face her, worried by the distress in her voice.

“We forgot my book for book week!” Mandy exclaims.

I silently curse. We have exactly twelve minutes until the bell rings and it takes us five minutes to get a park and five minutes to walk to class. We were cutting it mighty fine.

“Can we not worry about it?” I ask, praying she’ll agree.

“No Mum! We need to go back to get it!” Mandy argues heatedly.

I groan in frustration. I am at the end of the street, facing a busy main street. It would take ages to turn around in this traffic. I decide to reverse and do a three point turn, silently hoping that cars wouldn’t come in either direction and give me the stink eye. We get back to the house without incident. I park, open the door and get Mandy to run in to find the book.

She runs back in a fluster, “Where is it? I left it on the counter.”

“I think it’s on the dining table,” I suggest.

She runs out again, “It’s not there!”

I do a mental head slap. Of course it’s not there. It’s in her school bag. Exactly where I put it this morning. Dammit.

“Sorry I remember now. I put it in your bag this morning,” I tell her, embarrassed by my forgetfulness.

“Mum, seriously! You’re so lame!” Mandy says and gets into the car.

When the heck had she learnt this word? And when did I become a lame? I sigh inwardly. I didn’t even get a chance to drink my coffee. Now that’s lame.

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