Bonnie had her violin exam on Monday so the preceding weekend was always going to be especially joyful. ‘Bonnie’ I said, ‘as your actual exam is on Monday morning, you will have to practice on Saturday and Sunday.’ ‘OH MY GOD’ she said ‘YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS YOU PROMISED I NEVER HAVE TO PRACTICE AT THE WEEKEND YOU TRICKED ME!’ and she fell face down on her bed, marking the end of the conversation.
We had a nice chat about it, ‘it’s for your benefit’ and ‘hate’ figuring heavily in the conversation, and after I’d emptied my soul onto her lap, she mentioned casually that she’d lost her exam music anyway. ‘What do you mean?’ I spluttered. ‘Haven’t you been playing your pieces all week?’ ‘YES!’ she said, looking shifty. After all, if you dispensed with the music, you didn’t have to do all those annoying bowing and dynamic instructions, and you could make up your own notes.
Alan was pretty busy wistfully re-filing his photo collection from before he met me, but no exam music was a calamity, so I sent him off to my sister’s for a copy, as her daughter was taking the same exam (but had miraculously not lost her music). It seemed a waste of potential free time for me to send Alan alone, so I told him to take the dog and Bonnie - ‘they’ll enjoy it!’ (I will) - forgetting that the dog doesn’t walk, he only slides, so Alan had to carry him and that did his dratted back in. He had, regretfully, to spend the rest of the weekend in bed with the newspaper, apart from a drink with his mates in the late afternoon because pain is worse if you are lonely, much better if you can get out to the pub ‘just for a quick one’.
Upshot was my weekend was spent being passive-aggressively ‘good’ about the bad back (‘You need to rest, it’s completely fine, I’ll do EVERYTHING’) and helping everyone do their homework while they shouted at me (‘how should I know what a verb is?’ ‘I can do my homework wrong if I want to!’), kicking people out of bed, into bed, off screens, cajoling Bonnie into practicing by threatening her with no food or oxygen, and trying to spend quality time with each child while the rest tapped me on the shoulder and fought with each other.
By Sunday night I’d had enough. ‘Who’s going to pick that toilet paper off the floor? WHO?? ME! You treat me like a skivvy’ bla bla bla, usual lack of self-control leading to troubling thoughts about suitability for motherhood. When I rose on Monday morning, nicely knackered from my weekend, instead of providing a calm and positive atmosphere for Bonnie’s debut in the examination room, the time seemed ripe for Spring Heating Wars (Round One) to commence.
Don’t get me wrong, I had not planned the first strike; despite the mild weather I obediently whacked the heating on at 6am in order that Alan would not get narky and could roast in bed while I sweated through my chores downstairs. But when I went up with room service (cup of tea) and discovered that he was up but still hadn’t switched the heating off, (the switch is in our bedroom) I burst out ‘IT’S BOILING IN THIS HOUSE – WHY HAVEN’T YOU SWITCHED THE HEATING OFF YET?’ ‘I’m not up,’ said he (which was surprising as he was vertical, washed and primped) ‘and don’t shout at me first thing in the morning!’
Round one to him (moral victory) – but he did turn the heating off the next morning.