Last night my friend asked if I could take care of her daughter today while she and her husband attended a medical appointment. I agreed quickly – their girl is always a pleasure to take care of, she’s Picklepot’s “girlfriend” so they get on like a house on fire, and she’s also great with Sunshineface. I had no plans other than to work, so I thought great, the kids can play and I can get on.
She arrived this morning just after 8.30 so I was still wearing bed hair, PJs and seeking out my first coffee of the day. After a night of getting up with Sunshineface (who was most adamant he did not want to sleep!) I was in serious need of caffeine. Fortunately my friend and her daughter are perfectly used to seeing me in this condition and it’s no bother for them. Picklepot was already up and dressed, patiently waiting for his girlfriend to arrive for their playdate.
I did some work and got everything up to date, I did an online shop for delivery tomorrow since we just got paid and have NO FOOD in the house, and I drank my second coffee before 10am. Things were going well. Then the husband woke up and sorted himself out, came downstairs with Sunshineface. Breakfast was being consumed by the two bigger ones, and the Sunshineface was provided with a chopped apple (which he mostly chewed and then left the chewed up chunks in various places around the front room, but no matter, he’s much like me and rarely eats properly first thing in the morning)
I got myself dressed and came downstairs, husband left for work, I did some more work and got everything up to date again, got Sunshineface dressed and we left the house to walk to the little shop down the road. While the big shop is arriving tomorrow, I needed a couple of essentials today. We also needed to put some electric on our key meter, so our main purpose was to stop at the shop to sort that out, but in addition as it was a sunny day and work was all up to date I thought I’d take the kids to the little park near the shop to let off some steam too.
We walked to the shop, I checked my account before taking out some cash (nightmare fear of the money not going into the account for some reason on payday!) and I went to get the electric key out of the pocket on the pushchair to top it up in the shop. I hadn’t brought the key with us. I’d taken it out of the meter and placed it on the radiator in the hallway ready to put in the pocket on the pushchair and take with us, then in all the palaver involved with getting three children out of the door and one into the pushchair I’d forgotten to pick it up.
We walked back home, I dived indoors and grabbed the key, we walked back to the shop again. We were in no hurry, the kids were behaving themselves and it was nice weather. I kept telling myself it really didn’t matter, even though Picklepot kept complaining that now he was seven I should have left him in the park with his girlfriend on their own while I went home to get the electric key (Nice try, kid, but NO!)
At the shop, the bigger two decided they didn’t want to come in so I headed in with Sunshineface in the pushchair and picked up what we needed. Sunshineface decided now was a good time to drop his feet onto the front wheels of the pushchair – you know, while I’m juggling bread, milk, cheese and butter in one hand and steering one handed around a tiny shop with barely enough room to get down each section. Cheers, kiddo. I made it to the front desk (feeling proud of myself) and put down my shopping, asked the lady for some money to be put on the electric key, and just as I was asking for two mixed slushies for the big ones they came screaming into the shop because Picklepot was being silly and doing something he shouldn’t have been so his girlfriend came to tell me what he was doing and he came to defend himself. I said OK whatever, I’m getting slushies if you behave yourselves so they both did a happy dance and squealed a lot and shouted requests at the lady behind the counter about what they wanted.
Once we finally staggered out of the shop we went to the park. To my dismay it has quickly become an open rubbish bin … litter just about everywhere, broken bottles and cigarette ends, empty squashed cans, crisp packets blowing in the breeze and all that kind of sad crap you find blights so many places which should be really nice for the community to enjoy. I decided to overlook this, the kids were thrilled to be at the park, they ran off ahead to play.
Picklepot found a kid he knew playing with another kid – no parent in sight – just two six year olds on their own in a park in the middle of a housing estate. They were doing their best to break something – I don’t even know what it was – and immediately started asking Picklepot to share his slushie. Annoyed, I called him over to me, told him to leave his slushie with me while he played, asked him to play nicely and not destroy whatever it was the other boys were destroying. He returned to them and immediately started to try and destroy the object. They’d progressed by then from stamping on it and throwing it to climbing up a frame with it and chucking it off the top. I was a bit concerned about someone getting hurt, as well as annoyed that he was so quickly ignoring my wishes and joining in. So I shouted over to him, you play nicely you don’t try and break stuff or you come in here with me. He shouted back, But they’re trying to break it! So I thought to hell with it and yelled back, I don’t care what they’re doing, they’re not my children, but you know better than to try and destroy things especially if it isn’t your property! Pretty quick all of them stopped doing what they’d been doing and started playing. I thought OK and left them to it.
Picklepot’s girlfriend was in the fenced off area with Sunshineface and myself, and while she was playing happily with Sunshineface I did think it was a bit rude that Picklepot had just left her to it while he went off with someone else. Then he shouted help. I looked round and he’d climbed up the top of a frame which has various ways of getting down again – a firemans pole, a twisted rope ladder, and a set of those double bars you slide down. He’s climbed up it a thousand times before, and come down those double bars with no problem. He’s come down them head first, feet first, dangling with just his arms, backwards, you name it. This time he’d climbed up and decided he was unable to get down.
His girlfriend went over there to help him and I heard the other boys start taking the mick about “A girl” coming to his rescue, which got my back up. That girl has bigger balls than most boys I know. She’s utterly brilliant with Picklepot, she keeps him calm and stops him getting too worked up, and I knew for a fact she’d be able to talk him down no problem. She also has no fear herself and is quite happy to climb up the frame and come down the firemans pole without even blinking. So she did that a couple of times, and I was so proud of the way she simply ignored the other two as if they weren’t even there, and eventually Picklepot had the confidence to come down the double poles again.
After a while at the park we came home. Sunshineface was hungry and the other two kids were bugging me, three other girls had turned up (alone) and I’d had enough and wanted more coffee. We walked home without too much issue, though Picklepot was being a bit silly and mucking about it wasn’t too bad.
Once home, we had some lunch and my friend arrived. She stayed for a while so the kids carried on playing. I did some more work, got up to date again, things seemed to be going well.
Then Picklepot came in from the garden to announce that because his girlfriend was being bossy, he’d thrown his trainer at her and now it was in a bush and he couldn’t get at it. He wanted me to get it for him. He expected me, in a summer dress, to climb through a 6ft tall rose bush and pull a trainer out of a prickly bush. Um, no, you can ask your dad to fetch it later and then you can explain to him why you threw your trainer in a bush in the first place. My friend and her daughter went home. A busy day but bar the odd issue, fairly successful.
As mentioned earlier, our choices for dinner were limited so I put into the oven what we had left to make a meal. It was about halfway cooked when an urgent scream from Picklepot in the front room alerted me to the fact that Sunshineface had somehow got hold of the Sharpie marker pens I use for my grown-up colouring books.
I went into the front room and found Sunshineface sitting in an armchair with an assortment of 20 Sharpie pens around him, on the floor in front of him, handfuls of them. Lids were off, he had purple on his t shirt, red on his knee, green on his foot and an assortment of colours on his hands. Once I gathered them together, put the lids back on, I went to take him upstairs. I realised I couldn’t walk across the front room due to the amount of toys between me and the doorway.
As I started to tidy up I asked Picklepot for help, to which his response was, “I didn’t make the mess” I said OK you didn’t tip the toys over the floor but you played with them, so help me tidy up please. “I didn’t make the mess I only played with the toys” So I said well I didn’t even get to play with the toys but I’m expected to tidy it all up! He still wouldn’t help me tidy so I did that myself. Then I took Sunshineface upstairs to try and sort him out. Turns out that Sharpie pen won’t come off skin with baby wipes, nor with a hand soap and warm water scrub, so leaving him covered in Sharpie quickly became my only option and I was about to go to the loo before we went back downstairs when I realised the loo was blocked with loads of paper.
After unclogging the toilet, and going to the loo, and scrubbing my hands thoroughly, I took Sunshineface back downstairs so I could serve up dinner. Of course, it had been halfway cooked when I was called away for the Sharpie incident, and this whole time of clearing up and sorting out toys and the blocked toilet and trying to clean up Sunshineface meant that dinner was a crusty relic of what it could have been.
We ate what we could of dinner, then the kids had ice cream for afters, and of course Sunshineface covered himself in melted ice cream. Along with the Sharpie on his clothes, I decided to strip him off and put his clothes straight in the wash.
The washing is on (with plenty of Vanish!) and work is up to date (again). Husband has just arrived home and Sunshineface is running around in his nappy and nothing else (he won’t keep his dressing gown on) the purple Sharpie went through his t shirt so he has purple splodges on his tummy and a red line down one side, to compliment the red spots on his knee, the green squiggle on his foot and the multi colour design on his hand.
Now husband is home, the joy of the bedtime routine can begin. I just hope Sunshineface is more tired than he was last night and we don’t end up sitting there til 10.30pm with him throwing George Pig soft toys at my head telling me “No sleep”.
I’m exhausted, and I’m looking forward to my Archers & lemonade tonight!