Mummy gets ready for The Ivy
The children don’t know that I’m going out. I try not to let on. We get through dinner without a major hitch – unless you count them both refusing to eat the “oaty banana crunch” I made (standing over a hot pan while I toasted the oats in honey, made the custard and mixed it carefully with natural yoghurt and sliced banana to make a layered dessert served with a long spoon in a tall glass) – yes, unless you count the rejection of that, which I didn’t take personally, we get through dinner okay and are heading calmly upstairs for bath time when it all goes wrong.
DS takes a handful of Cheerios upstairs in a bowl. He drops it. DD swoops in and scoffs the Cheerios off the floor. DS goes ballistic. Ballistic in the way only a two-year-old can manage. It’s the stiff body, “please breathe” type of screaming. I – thinking of my taxi arriving at the door in just 45 minutes – feel my temper – already ragged through sleep deprivation – snap.
“WHY did you do it? WHY? Can’t you SEE he’s only two? Don’t you UNDERSTAND that he’ll go crazy if you eat his Cheerios? Why don’t you just ASK ME for some? WHY do you upset your brother SO MUCH? Do you LIKE seeing him scream like this? Look at him! He can’t even BREATHE!”
I kick a toy bus across the room. It feels good. I kick another one out of my way, realising only as it launches that I really don’t want to damage the plantation shutters.
DD looks horrified. She’s never seen me this angry. DS is screaming in the bathroom.
“GET IN THE BATH!” I yell. “BOTH OF YOU! NOW!”
And I’m thinking: What happened to those evenings when preparing for a night out involved a candlelit bath, a glass of champagne, a layering of perfumed products and a delicate application of my newest makeup? How come I’m reduced to screaming at the kids when I should be touching up my makeup and teasing my hair? I haven’t even thought what I want to wear beyond the fact that I don’t want to wear what I thought I would wear.
DS won’t get in the bath. I strip him and dump him in it. He won’t sit down. He stands up screaming hysterically so I wash him standing up. He screams louder. My head’s pounding; I feel like it’s going to burst a blood vessel. DS still looks horrified. She cooperates silently, with big eyes.
“Sit down!” I bark at DS.
“Get-out-get-out,” he yells. “Wanna get ooooouuuuut!” He lifts his little leg over the side of the bath.
“Sit DOWN!” I snap. “You are NOT getting out till you’ve SAT DOWN!”
I pass him a cup of water and he places it to his lips and sips through his sobs. The screaming stops. I lie on the bed, drained, and listen to them. DS has recovered. The tantrum’s over as quickly as it started. All’s forgotten. DD is teaching DS a song and dance routine. I peek in the bathroom mirror – they’re both dancing in the bath like nothing happened.
“Sorry I shouted, darling,” I whisper to DD as I get her out. She hugs me. “It’s okay. Sorry I took his Cheerios.”
We have some cuddles downstairs before the hurdle of tooth-cleaning, then it’s bedtime. DS likes a story or six. We cuddle on the sofa in his bedroom and I read him Hide & Seek. Then Spot Makes A Cake and Spot at the Park. I’m so aware of the time I’m having palpitations.
“Okay, bedtime,” I say, but he wants “Christmas” – a book about Santa. And then he wants The Hungry Caterpillar. It’s 7.15pm. I’ve still got to say good night to DD and get ready, and the taxi’s booked for 7.30 – though I know he’ll be here at 7.20.
You’ve never heard anyone read The Hungry Caterpillar faster. Light of the moon, egg, sun, caterpillar, hungry, one apple, two plums, three whatever, four strawberries, five oranges, ice cream, cake, pickle, cheese, sausage, whatever, cupcake, melon, tummyache! Not hungry, not tiny anymore – biiig – biiig cocoon, and out popped a butterfly. THE End.” Butterfly is probably the only word I read at a normal speed.
DS gets another hug and I creep out before going to say goodnight to DD. She hugs me tight and I walk into my bedroom and open the wardrobe.
The phone rings. The taxi’s outside. I’m in shorts, a vest, flip-flops and melted makeup, and I have humidity-hair that smells of the salmon fishcakes I made for the children’s dinner. “I’ll be out in five minutes,” I tell the driver.
“Muuu-mmeeeee!” DD calls me loudly enough to disturb DH. Her neck hurts. She “can’t lie down” it hurts so much.
“You HAVE to lie down, “I say, thinking – why me? “You can’t sleep sitting up. You’re not a horse. Choose the way it’s most comfy and PLEASE lie down.” Please? I check her forehead for a fever, thinking meningitis. No fever. “There. Is it better now?” She nods, I give her one last hug, throw on jeans and a silk blouse, swirl some blusher round my face, slap on some lip gloss, brush my hair, squirt some perfume, throw the baby monitor at Gerlie and run out of the front door in heels the wrong colour for my bag.
The Ivy? Was it worth it? I’ll tell you tomorrow.