(Written whilst crouched on the bathroom floor, having told children I am 'having a wash'. Number of interruptions, nevertheless, during attempted writing of post: around 70. May consequently bear indications of galloping psychosis)
So, you tell the internet in a weedy fashion how much you are missing your precious cheeldreenne and their soft downy cheeks and general delightfulness and then they only go and COME BACK, don't they, thus confronting you with (loud, oh so loud) reality.
Even whilst they are turning the corner into the street and depositing twenty seven bags of sand and Ninjago spinners and dog-eared copies of Picsou magazine and single discarded socks in the corridor and leaving a trail of biscuit wrappers and empty sticker sachets in their wake that you realise that you have made a colossal error relating to the dates of their various activities, leaving you with a gaping maw of empty childcare free time in August, which you cannot even begin to resolve because they are already clamouring at you to look up the latest video reviews of Mario Bros 2 3DS (not as good as Super Mario 3D Land, apparently), or where you can get a sleeping bag that makes you look like you are being eaten by a shark (America for two hundred nicker, gor blimey guvnor), and where Guam is (er, Asia?) and what cassowaries eat (dunno). And because it's the holidays they get to go to bed really late. Also, they have now realised they can read English, so they have taken to leaning over your shoulder when you check your email and reading what you are up to, which has already led to all sorts of interesting conversations. So it's a good thing you've missed them, isn't it?
And I have. I have missed them. I am very glad they are back. I feel, literally, more grounded: I'm physically down on the ground floor playing cards or proffering food or refereeing arguments instead of hidden away in my silent attic of despair. It gives a lovely, reassuring gloss of purpose to things. The little one is very brown and fair now, after all those weeks in the Normandy, er, 'sun'. He seems to have toenails that have come from one of those Bronze Age corpses they find in bogs, but it can doubtless be resolved somehow. The big one comes up to the bottom of my nose now and he's touchingly pleased to see me: he's everywhere, his arms around me, kissing and holding my hand and reading me extracts from a pile of magazines his grandmother has bought him, most of which date from the early '90s.
"Those are the Twin Towers, aren't they?" he asked me curiously, half an hour ago, brandishing some long-defunct magazine, that probably recommends pipe smoking for the under twelves, then "Who won out of George W. Bush and Al Gore?"
Just, they are quite all consuming: they have swallowed what was left of my brain. I quite like it actually, because I can use it to absolve me of any credible attempt to work for a couple of days. We have been wandering aimlessly around Brussels instead: bookshop, cinema, orthodontist, vet, TV, picnic, ice cream. Mainly TV. Everything has slowed to a dawdle: no one gets dressed much before midday, if they bother at all. Meals are scavenged affairs: half a packet of crisps, a mango, peanut M&Ms for protein. Bedtime is delayed by escaping rats and Olympic highlights. Sadly I failed to convince them that we should be allowed to spend the day watching horses dance to Richard Clayderman and instrumental versions of pop "classics". The Olympics do not seem to have awakened either their French or English patriotism. They are stateless in the face of televised sports, radiating equal opportunities ennui at anything short of Usain Bolt. I just asked Fingers if dressage was the most boring thing he had ever seen, and he said it was, flicking a disdainful eye towards the television from his spot on a cushion on the floor, riven to his DS.
"Je suis un peu d'accord. If they Moonwalked" added Lashes, watching sloth videos on my phone (he writes this 'sloff', when he is laboriously checking YouTube with one finger) "it would be funnier".
In this dreamy, aimless state, I find myself having woolly ideas at around midnight, being too lazy and tired to write them down, then forgetting by morning or finding cryptic notes that no longer make sense. "Talk about language". "Facial expression" "The coffee thing - more". What? WHO WROTE THAT AND WHAT ON EARTH DID THEY MEAN?
I have to go now. There is an eery silence that I do not trust. I will return when I can. We are heading to Château Tetanus shortly for a brief weekend of badger corpse inspecting and other bucolic pastimes. My father will put us all to work on the Beddington collective farm. The dog will get spooked by pheasants and lose his mind, tearing round in freaked out circles trying to remember his own name. The children might find a dead mouse in the drain if they are lucky. There will be plentiful booze and sitting around time. What more could you ask for?