I’m not quite sure how it happened, but we have taken the plunge and embraced the convivial family evening meal! The full a la carte is back on of course, which means tipping out the fridge and cupboards on to the table and getting stuck in; and for me, it means being butler, chef and general drudge as usual, but also eating and looking as if I’m listening to the conversation as well. But surely the laughs, the debate, the refuelling amongst those you love, will repay the effort ten-fold - this could be very rewarding!
Conversation is tops:
‘Soph, I had a very productive DMT meeting with the LGO sub-committee today – Bonnie, I said I don’t want a ponytail, take the ribbon out!‘
‘Mummy when you make this stuff can you not put all those kinda like green bits in it, then I won’t have to pick them all out-’
‘Maddy, why are you holding your spaghetti up to the light?’
‘I’m checking there’s nothing in it.’
‘Sorry Alan, very productive what?…Alfie! Don’t you dare put your cucumber under the chair – PICK IT UP NOW!’
‘I can’t reach…can you get it?’
‘Bonnie knitting needles don't go in tomatoes!’
‘Plate in the sink please’
‘Oh my God, that’s so unfair! I’m only taking my fork!’
Current affairs thus mulled over, it’s first to the top of the stairs gets to put Alfie and Bonnie to bed (which used to be the short straw) because the other sucker’s got the entire contents of the fridge and cupboard to put back in again, and the whole kitchen to clean up, including fifteen items of crockery and cutlery per child because each food must be served separately so that nothing touches anything else, obviously.
At least I had a stage for my latest dramatic outburst. I spoke my opening lines gulpingly (so’s I could barely swallow my mash):
‘Has anyone noticed that I am very unhappy?
I can’t go on any more,
Asking you to do your jobs,
For you to then ignore’
There followed a moving soliloquy describing the life of Poor, Poor Mum (“Practice! Do your homework! Go to bed! Get up! What’s that doing in the middle of the floor? Brush your teeth, I shouldn't have to tell you! Turn off the telly! Pick it up, who do you think is going to pick it up if you don’t – me!..”). I explained that Poor, Poor Mum kept this jabbering up fourteen hours a day minimum, but that YOU ( and I cast my eye around the table, very effective) just move off out of earshot, rendering Poor, Poor Mum increasingly dispirited and stompy.
I think I pulled it off. At any rate, everyone came in with ‘Sorry, Mummy, sorry, sorry’ and there was alot of patting of my arms, and hand-squeezing, which led to me cancelling the seriously shouty climax I'd planned. A daily checklist of chores was drawn up, which everyone agreed to observe in a responsible and cooperative manner - it's all been very rewarding.