I was BANGING ABOUT quite a bit by breakfast time today; the morning had begun cheerfully enough with a spot of housework, inspecting and sniffing clothes left for me on the floor and categorising them as ‘absolutely filthy’ or – the only alternative - ‘clean!’. Clean items were hurled vigorously at the relevant child’s bedroom door in the laughable hope that they’d pick them up and put them away when they came out of hibernation; the absolutely filthy stuff was bundled downstairs with me into the kitchen, where with some dismay I came upon a mixed up mountain of screwed up school uniforms, uneaten packed lunches made by me, revision notes, football boots (uncleaned by busy husband), important letters for parents to read and return the slip two months ago, etc etc - all dropped on the floor to keep me humming. The brain-mangling thought of asking the children to tidy their stuff up, and them replying ‘In a minute!’ for six years made me hang onto the wall for support. No, I’d be Nice Mum - ‘Quicker if I do it!’ - and started putting everything away. But in my experience there is an inverse relationship between shovelling shit and good cheer, so soon I was muttering ‘...I am just a drudge. They are animals!....Jesus!..’ working myself up into a lather as they slept on and on...
So when Bonnie came down for her cornflakes and placed a note regarding Christmas presents under my nose: ‘I want a pet – any pet to call my own’ (a dog – she’s had all the others) the answer was ‘No, definitely no!’ And Alan has provided bullet points: 1. buying Bonnie a dog would be rewarding bad behaviour 2. if you can’t find time to iron a shirt once in a while, how will you walk a dog? (and it will be you y’know!) 3.training a puppy would make raising Bonnie look like a picnic…but Bonnie wasn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer, so it was mind games (‘if you loved your child…’) and then a little picture to show how she felt - of a sweetie jar, but labelled ‘Mummy Posenings’(sic) carefully placed next to the first note. Nice one.
Never mind – Bonnie and I had plenty of time to sort out our differences for we were going to spend hours and hours and hours together buying her a Christmas present at Build-a-Bear in Covent Garden which if you haven’t been there is a soft toy shop where children ‘make’ (loosely) their own unique mass-produced bear: they stuff a (rather grotesque) empty bear skin, rub its heart against their own to show how much they love it, (gush), rub it on their ears so it listens to their secrets (gushgush), and give it ‘the kiss of life’. ‘I’m sorry’ I interjected at this point ‘is it dying then??’ (sharp look from Bonnie)).
Bonnie named her bear ‘Treasure’ (oh please) amended to ‘Max’ due to me raising my eyes to the ceiling, and then chose Max an extensive range of fashionable outfits and accessories. We queued with the other harassed Mums and Dads preparing to cough up, and the Grannies shakily writing cheques for God knows how much, thinking ‘bless me, that’s three million shillings and 29d – I had to make do with a walnut!’ We were even offered an extra Christmas Build-a-Bear for only £5!! instead of the usual £10 because we’d already proved we were stupid so maybe we‘d go round again and buy some more clothes for that one!
By the time we’d reached the Underground, Bonnie’d had enough of rubbing Max on her heart, ears, and wherever else - indeed she’d had enough of carrying him at all, so it fell to me to lug him and his wardrobe home, despite my bad back acquired in the name of love (and a good bargain) the day before; I’d bought a second-hand table football table for Alfie's Christmas present. ‘No, I don’t need any help getting it in the car!’ I’d trilled, (musn’t be any trouble!) then fought with the thing for half an hour, its rods sliding in and out of my hair and hooking my trouser belt, trying to look as if I was merely interested in all the packing options. Eventually I lay under the thing, raised it up on my back and charged at the open boot of the car with such force I managed to launch myself and the table up and over the middle seats, only casualties a few staples in my thumb, and a bad back.
That’s two presents ticked off already – easy!