The CFO is going away tomorrow for the week, sweeping back on Thursday evening to take us all straight to OCD brother in law's bleach scented palace in Dijon. (Burglars of Belgium, please not that I am not at ALL a defenceless, feeble-limbed female who usually forgets to lock the door, AND I have a weepette féroce. Si si si. He will rip you limb from limb, if you happen to be a slice of ham)
He goes away a lot, so I know how it goes.
I wake the children up with a song on my lips and a tender kiss to their adorably sweet smelling foreheads. I make pancakes, sort out school bags with nourishing snacks, shower and dress in something elegant with a twist and we all troop off to school in plenty of time. After more tender kisses, I waft off to work in a cloud of Camélia Chinois.
When I get home from work we laugh and joke together as I prepare dinner, Lashes does his homework diligently, we watch a little tv and both boys are tucked up in bed in plenty of time with more tender kisses. I clean the kitchen beautifully, tidy up all the stray socks, then spend the evening and much of the night on the internets talking about how hard my life is. I eventually get to bed dreadfully late and take the dog with me. The dog fidgets for the remainder of the night keeping me awake.
I sleep in until 7:55 after the stupidly late night, then have to offer the children cash money to get dressed and to school on time. I wear yesterday's clothes without washing. Waving €5 notes in front of their noses and thrusting small bags of dried cereal into their hands, we get out of the house at 8:15. I am euphoric. "Well done boys!" I trill, gaily. I am Bohemian, delightful, spontaneous. We are not bound by timetables! We can overcome! There are more tender kisses, though a little quicker this time. I sprint for the tram in a cloud of Sure for Men.
I get home, slightly foxed and weary and collect them, to the sound of lengthy recriminations about forgotten books, snacks and sports kit, which I drown out with artery furring snacks from the machine. I plonk everyone down in front of the tv, pausing to kick the dog, by now insane with loneliness, and tread in dog shit. I turn on the internet and when I next look up it is nearly bedtime. I hastily microwave something and shove a stick of cucumber next to it for good conscience. By the time it has been eaten and we have located pyjamas (hidden in the neurotic dog's house), it is way past bedtime. I race through a story and give increasingly perfunctory and harried kisses. I note that the children smell of hamster bedding. If anyone calls me back for water, or lights, or to correct the alignment of the alarm clock, I may snap.
I spend the rest of the evening telling the internet I am having a nervous breakdown. I forget to eat. When I get to bed around 2am, the dog is wide awake from lack of exercise and keen to PLAY.
Once more I miss the alarm and we sleep until 8:00. The children demand €10 each this time per item of clothing put on independently. I make lavish promises of live ponies and trips to Disneyland if we arrive in time. I go upstairs to unearth something to wear from the floor. When I return noone has done anything except locate a packet of Haribo Starmix in the kitchen. I SHOUT. A lot. The dog cowers. I dress everyone, fulminating and swearing about how I have to do EVERYTHING AROUND HERE JESUS CHRIST PUT THE DAMN DOG DOWN WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES. We get as far as the front door and I realise I have lost my keys. By the time I have found the keys both children have disappeared and lost their shoes. We get out of the house, ten minutes late, run full pelt down the road and have to wheedle our way into school. There is no time for kisses. I dash for the tram in a cloud of stale sweat.
I return home collecting some filthy, pissed off children who may or may not be mine (I no longer care) and realise I have left the front door open and all the lights on. In a variation on this theme, sometimes I have put the burglar alarm on and let the weepette out, meaning the alarm has been ringing since 8:30 that morning and the neighbours are gathering around the door with pitchforks. Or perhaps I realise I have lost my keys. When we get in, I hand everyone a packet of crisps and a juice and tell them if they want anything else they can find it themselves. I do Lashes' homework myself in despair, while he sticks skewers into the DVD player and practises kickboxing on the dog.
Usually the third evening is the point at which I find myself either lying crying on the bathroom floor, or flouncing off into my bedroom and slamming the door. Either way, it's a special moment. I shut the children in their rooms to a chorus of "who is that horrible woman, she smells bad" around 9. I wonder who I can call and complain at for a while, then give up and lay my head on the sticky, unwiped kitchen countertop to weep for a few minutes. I have radiation sickness from spending so long on the internet. The only food left in the house is cornichons. I usually go to bed to lie in a foetal position moaning gently around 9:30. I have probably lost or killed the dog by this point.
By this point all bets are off and it's Lord of the Flies. Anyone who comes out alive is going to need a whole shedload of counselling.
You will be able to watch my decline live and in colour here. Perhaps we should have some kind of code word I use when I really really need you to call social services?