My children are predictable. We have a routine, they know what to expect throughout the day and I am good at managing their hunger and tiredness.
Fridays are a little different. They’re less predictable. We have no nursery, no swimming, no commitments that we have to honour. A free day, with just us. Sometimes Fridays are gloriously relaxed days spent in the company of friends and the open air in the park. Sometimes Fridays are full of appointments and errands and Things We Need To Do And Probably Should Have Already Done. On days like this, we have a witching hour.
Today we had a visit to TTB’s old playgroup so that I can put TTG’s name down to start when she turns two, a hair cut for TTB followed by his first eye test. Oh and I’d promised a trip to Caffe Nero as a bribe for having his hair cut and his eyes tested. Throw in lunch and nap time and that’s a full day of to-ing and fro-ing and sitting and being good.
Days like this tend to swing wildly from going to plan to going wrong. For example, just before we left to visit playgroup, TTG tripped over her own feet and face planted onto the armchair in their bedroom. The seat cushion was on the floor, a remnant from a den made earlier in the morning. She must’ve bitten her own mouth in the process as blood poured out of her mouth (and all over my shoulder on my favourite dress) while she screamed and clung to me. She was fine after a few minutes and some calpol, but we were late leaving. But as we left, we bumped into the postman who was bringing me a parcel. We’d’ve missed the parcel if we had left on time.
The playgroup visit tired both children out more than I was expecting and TTG almost fell asleep in the pushchair – too early to sleep! TTB was starting to struggle to behave and so the slot I’d allocated to go to Caffe Nero wasn’t appropriate any more. We made it home and she slept and we had lunch and it was all ok. Until he was so loud (I wouldn’t let him throw a ball of yarn about) that he woke her up and she was all sad so I had to lay with her for ages.
We made it to Caffe Nero for a very quick drink (bribe upheld) and to the hairdressers. TTB’s hair grows stupidly quickly and unfortunately it’s not the kind of hair you can just let grow and it looks fine. He has what I call Harry Potter hair, it sticks up at odd angles in all directions and doesn’t lay flat. It grows in a spiral at the top and the back of it grows like a mullet. It’s unfortunate that it grows so fast as it needs cutting so frequently and it’s always a hideous event to endure. He can’t stand the feeling of the cut hair falling on him and instead of leaving it alone he just grabs and scratches at himself and cries because he can’t get it off. Not for the first time we have had to abandon it and he has half a hair cut. Tidy at the back, stupid at the front. And another appointment booked for next week to finish the job.
Leaving the hairdressers early meant we had twenty minutes to fill before the opticians appointment (poor TTB, not a fun afternoon) so we went to the plant stall at the market and we chose an agapanthus and a verbena to add to our flower pots in the yard.
Then to the opticians. He tried his best and so did the optician, but it turns out that eye tests are somewhat difficult when the child is only operating at about 70% cooperation. Then it poured with rain as we walked home. We had coats but it’s still less easy than walking home in the dry.
At 3:45pm we arrive home and I realise that I didn’t do the washing up earlier, so the kitchen isn’t ready for me to prepare food. The logical thing to do in this situation is to quickly plant our agapanthus and verbena in their new pots in the yard (TTG briefly escaped during this and managed to sit in a puddle within 30 seconds).
Our meal tonight was homemade pizzas so I set about making the dough so that I could leave it to prove while I washed up. Simple in theory, until you factor in Mr “I have shown no interest in baking or helping with food for two weeks but now I can see you’re under pressure I MUST HELP YOU MAKE THE DOUGH!”
I don’t want him to help me when I just need to get this done really quickly but I feel like an awful person for saying no when he’s expressing an interest. He picks up TTG’s dining chair and carries it to the kitchen and we agree that he can watch me make the dough (“no don’t touch that. NO DO NOT TOUCH THAT!”) and then when it’s proved he can roll some out. TTG meanwhile has seen her chair in the kitchen and she wants to get up as well. No. “OH! Go and find my phone and you can FACETIME GRANDMA!!!!”
I start to wash up and TTB facetimed Grandma. Apparently he can read the words “mum iPhone” with no problem. She doesn’t answer. He tries several times in a row just on the off chance. Fed up of that, I manage to explain how to phone their landline to ask her to answer her FaceTime. Finally we get there and they chat while I do the fastest washing up possible while trying to stop TTG taking empty milk bottles out of the recycling. She settles for emptying the peg bucket (I later found them in a shoebox in the lounge) and bringing me some shoes. She’s fairly insistent that I need to put them on, so I do.
Finally the washing up is all done and the dough is proved. I hope that TTB has forgotten that I said he could roll out the dough but unfortunately he has. Drag chair to kitchen, wash hands (“Use soap! Because you do! To kill the bacteria. Just do it! Fronts and backs and inbetweens, come on, oh just rubabdubdub! Did you rinse? Right come on, oh leave the plug alone!”).
“Do you want a little bit of your own to have on a board at the table with some flour and your little rolling pin?” Negative. We start to roll out the piece of dough that’s to be their pizza and after a few half hearted rolls back and forth he asks for a little piece. “Why didn’t you say yes when I offered you that just now then?” I ask through gritted teeth. TTG has now brought me a pair of Andy’s shoes and a remote control, the latter of which I put in the fruit bowl for safekeeping.
“I want to grate the cheese!”
“No I just need to do it quickly,”
“But I NEED TO GRATE THE CHEEEEESE!”
“Ok fine you can have ONE TURN and I will count to ten and that is the end of your turn do you understand?”
“And whatever you do, just don’t drop the cheese!”
“Why can’t I drop the cheese?”
He lasts until the count of 4 before giving up because grating cheese is harder work than he thought.
TTG has seen the cheese so she comes over with her hand out “Chzzz! Gubbagubba!” (Gubbagubba means “I want that please give it to me at your earliest convenience”, although probably not that polite.)
She wanders off to eat her cheese and comes back with a washing line peg sock hanger peggy doodah thing, and the handle of the new loo brush I’ve bought. The cheese is inside the handle of the loo brush. She puts the sock peg hanging thing at my feet and waggles her finger in the end of the handle, making a futile attempt to retrieve her cheese.
Somehow I manage to get their pizza made and into the oven, whilst feeding them bits of cheese with the other hand and avoiding TTB who is now using the loo brush (I just want to reemphasise that this is a new, clean loo brush) against the floor, “Mummy I’m a road sweeper!”.
The oven, of course, is not a proper oven but a £40 mini delonghi one because our oven broke in January 2014 and we have still not yet reached a point in our renovations where we can have a new kitchen or oven. We have our tiny mini oven and a one ring induction hob.
The handle fell off the mini oven door a few weeks ago.
The oven is so mini that I can only do one thing in there at a time, and we only have one baking tray small enough to fit. I start preparing my own pizza on a plate, ready to transfer to the baking tray when the first pizza is done.
By this point my children have lost interest in me. I navigate the shoes, jumper, coat, trail of pegs and cups that TTG has left throughout the dining room and find them watching Swashbuckle in the lounge. Both so full of “please leave me alone” cheese that they’ve forgotten all about having dinner and are reluctant to come to the table to eat. But, they do, and TTB says “Oh thank you mummy, this looks very nice!” and he clears his plate.
And then it’s bath time and bedtime. Hurrah!
4pm – 5pm on a busy Friday inevitably ends in a witching hour. My tactic is to just focus on the end point (bedtime) and take one thing at a time. Main aims: everyone eats, nobody cries. I often think to myself when I’m making dinner during the witching hour that this is the kind of test they should do on the Great British Bake Off! Ha, try making your fancy bread when small people intermittently bring you shoes and insist on helping or want drinks and cheese! Nadiya still would’ve won I think.
Bedtime does feel even sweeter after a witching hour, even if I have then spent my evening doing a meal plan and an internet food shop!
But now: bedtime. Goodnight!