It’s been a funny old past few months. It’s the first week of May and it’s absolutely TIPPING it down with rain. I am feeling a bit smug as I’ve just got back from the gym and managed to hold a plank for a minute THREE times. Thankfully, she didn’t ask me to jump on a box this time. A good thing, as I’ve spent the entire weekend eating nothing but toast and instant noodles.
I must tell you about these noodles. Damn Amazon for supplying these delicious packets of sin and synthetic chemicals. Not only are they insanely cheap (£16 for 40 packets, God help me), but they are insanely addictive. You can make them in about two seconds and I have never tasted anything like it. You can buy them here (I don’t get a commission) but I beg of you. Don’t. Don’t make the mistake I did. It’s too late for me. Save yourselves.
So thanks to my obsession with these little packets of deliciousness, I am looking at myself in the gym mirror with a sigh in my heart. When I’m being a warrior doing a plank, or pushing up weights, or squatting like a COLOSSUS against the wall, I can feel my muscles.
Two years of gym going has meant for the first time in my life I can actually feel iron-like muscles in my thighs and arms. I can confidently commit to a one minute plank without breaking down in tears, or resorting to emotionally blackmailing, or outright threatening, my personal trainer.
Then what do I do? Spend a week mainlining toast and instant noodles. So it’s all very well having all those muscles and enough strength to wrestle my daughter into her school tights, but it’s not much good wrapped in a pudgy, wobbly, pink shell suit of fat.
Ah well, I’m down to my last two packets. I just have to make sure I don’t buy any more. Once those are gone I’m dedicating myself to revealing my muscles. It sounds better saying that than losing the fat, I think.
I am as mystified by the children as ever. Day by day I am made aware of the chilling fact that they are separate individuals in their own right and any control I had over their upbringing has come to a sudden end.
Son has spent the last two years of his life wearing tracksuits with hoodies and playing Fortnite. Occasionally we have screaming rows and I ban the Playstation for life and he has a rest for a day or two before I forget, or I’m busy, and he’s back on it.
The great thing is he will do ANYTHING to keep playing the damn game. Bring the stuff in from the car? Done. Do a few hours revision? Done. Finally, I have something over him. Unfortunately Daughter continues to not give a crap about anything so I could lock her in a cell with nothing but a chair and she’d happily kick her heels and sing. Anything rather than tidy her room, get ready for school or – God Forbid! – do anything around the house.
Last week Son had a non-uniform day. ‘I want grills,’ he told me. ‘What?’ I said. Now. I don’t know whether it’s my increasing age, but I find I can’t hear a goddammned word he’s saying. I can hear the woodpeckers outside, I can hear the robins’ liquid trills and the thrum of the dishwasher, but I can’t hear my son.
I really want to record him speaking to verify this. OK I’m going a bit mutton, but I’m sure I can hear my pupils OK. Why does he feels he needs to direct all comments to his collar bone? He’s worn his hoodie for so long I’ve forgotten what he looks like. In fact, I managed to get a photo of his face last week by threatening death and destruction and eventually used my superior body weight to pin him to the wall. He’s so beautiful! (Cross. But beautiful.) I’ve had to put it in my favourites on my camera roll so I can look at it every now and then to comfort me on those days when I only see the back of his hooded head.
After much shouting of ‘I’m NOT mumbling… Jeez!’ eye roll, I establish he wants to buy (with his own money) some fake gold teeth to wear to school ‘for a laugh’. I didn’t even know these things existed – here is a close up of my gorgeous boy with his new teeth. The minute he smiled Dog went mad and barked and barked as if he was a masked robber with a bag full of swag.
Of course Daughter is equally exasperating, mostly because she has an absolute will of iron and if she hasn’t had enough sleep turns into a frowning gremlin. Sometimes, every now and then, I can banish the gremlin by making her laugh, or distracting her, but too often I just lose my temper and yell, which is NOT the way to banish the gremlin. It just feeds them and they get bigger and badder.
Generally, though, she’s still a little girl and love horses, and Dog, and singing, and her friends. Last week she was in floods because Dog was a very bad Dog indeed.
Look at this Dog. Doesn’t she look like a good Dog? Well, as you know, she can be very bad. I love her very much, of course, almost as much as I love the children. She has done some awful things in the past, but now she is a mature four year old, she is much less jumpy, chewy, and barky.
If you look closely at the above photo, though, you will see shame in those big brown eyes. Last week, Daughter was in the garden and while I was mucking out the filth that is the children’s rooms, I kept hearing a lot of quacking. As the nearest body of water is about five miles away I thought it was odd, but was quickly distracted by the shocking number of cheesy Doritos packets I had discovered under Son’s bed.
About ten minutes later I raced into the garden when I heard Daughter scream ‘Nnooooooo Dog!!!!’ as if she was being savaged.
Dog is the sweetest, kindest, dopiest and least aggressive dog you can imagine. You could take a giant ham bone from her salivating jaws and she wouldn’t blink an eye. But. Still. You hear awful things about dogs going on the turn, so I raced into the garden my heart thumping.
Thankfully, Daughter was fine, but with a shaking hand she pointed at Dog. There she was. Tail wagging, a big grin on her face and a small, fluffy yellow thing in her mouth. Behind her, a large duck circled in the sky, quacking mournfully.
‘Is that…?’ I asked.
‘It’s a DUCKLING, Mummy,’ sobbed Daughter. ‘Dog just grabbed it and she won’t let it go.’
Dog continued to wag her tail. Her eyebrows pricked up hopefully waiting for me to praise her for fetching this strange yellow thing. She was holding it very gently in her mouth, but I could see the Duckling was either dead, or doing a very good impression.
‘Drop it, Dog!’ I yelled it my best, master/servant voice.
Dog gently rested the fluffy bundle of feathers on the ground and, head lowered, took five paces back like a respectful servant. Mother Duck flew one last, slow, swooping circle over the sorry scene before disappearing over the horizon with a final, echoing, quack.
Of course, we had to have a funeral, and Dog was very much in the Dog House for the next week. No chicken fillets for her!
Daughter was slightly cheered up by planning an ornate funeral, bordering on Victorian in is melodrama and pomp. So now, forever in our garden, – well until the sharpie pen writing runs out – it’s Daughter’s solemn tribute to a fallen duck.