The morning school run is the bane of my existence and the after school assault is akin to corporal punishment, especially if you take into account the dreaded “tantrums”. Bring home an exhausted prep child from school, add in some “hanger”, plus some poorly received words from just about anyone and you have yourself the formula to a ready-made explosion waiting to be unleashed onto some poor fool. Namely, Mum.
Mandy is always on the precipice of a meltdown after school, so I tend to tiptoe a little in order to keep some peace. More importantly, to cling onto any shred of sanity I may have left for the day.
“Darling, would you like a piece of fruit as a snack before dinner?” I ask sweetly, hoping for the first time she relents and takes the healthier option.
“Can I have chips?” she asks, expectantly.
Henry hears the word chips and sidles up to his big sister, hand reaching out expectantly.
“No sweetheart. How about some Vegemite cheese sandwiches?” I counter offer, praying that I haven’t set off the bomb. I’ve still got to prepare dinner, get their lunches ready for tomorrow, bathe the troublesome two and help with school readers. A gigantic tantrum would be a setback. One that I could do without.
Mandy’s face starts to collapse in untold pain at my sheer audacity to refuse her the one thing she ever wanted in her life. Tears start streaming down her flushed cheeks. The wailing begins. Henry looks at her in confusion. He’s not sure why she’s crying, but he’s become worried. He mirrors her behaviour and starts crying himself.
I look to the heavens above and ask why? For the love of my sanity, why?!
I look down at my crying offspring and debate the merits of relenting with a few chips versus my sanity.
Giving in will mean I’m reinforcing bad behaviour. Bad saturated fats and salts aren’t good for growing bodies and minds. It’s almost dinner and it will ruin their dinner.
A slew of thoughts crosses my mind in a frantic disorderly manner.
The wailing becomes louder. There’s screaming involved now. Slamming of doors is probably not far off. I don’t think our doors can handle another beating. Ah heck! I don’t want to deal with this. I need a wine, possibly a long tropical island vacation, away from any wailing.
“Fine!! Only a handful. I mean it,” I say with as much conviction as I can muster.
“Yeah right. I’m such a bloody pushover.” I think to myself.
“Please watch your brother for a minute, so I can get dinner ready and your lunch organised for tomorrow,” I plead with Mandy.
“Yes Mum,” Mandy replies, walking away with her brother and the chips. The tears stopping as quickly as they began.
I turn around and potter about in the kitchen for a few moments. I’m about to wash Mandy’s school water bottle. It’s a silly expensive Smiggle bottle that she insisted she needed otherwise she couldn’t possibly go to school. This bottle had a flimsy soft body that was collapsible. The darn thing was hard to open and clean.
As I am about to lift the lid, I see in the corner of my vision Henry pushing his high chair towards the counter. As quick as a flash, he uses it to climb up onto the counter top. I squeeze that damn bottle upon reflex as I race over to grab Henry before he falls off the counter and hurts himself. Water ends up everywhere. I look at my cheeky giggling child and the watery mess on the floor.
Blast that stupid water bottle.
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