Today I got up at 5.30 am to get to the office.
I left at 3pm to pick up my daughters and bring them home.
Then the real work started.
Having negotiated with both girls good reasons for getting out of the car, through the gate and into the house there then followed the tricky task of supervising Grace's homework while simultaneously playing with two-year-old Betty (and her bricks), cooking the dinner and unloading the dishwasher.
This is no fun, but its a lot less no fun for me than it is for Grace.
Grace hates homework with more than your average nine-year-old's passion. She hates it because she knows she'll either understand it with a glance and do it in under five minutes (this applies to story-writing, grammar exercises, spelling exercises and any kind of drawing) or she will not understand it (maths, reading comprehension, any instructions that the teacher hasn't calmly explained several times before she brought the worksheets home), and so spend the next hour in a panicky fog of incomprehension.
Tonight it was mainly grammar exercises so we managed, but a set of previously unseen instructions did tip the balance briefly. Grace held her head and rocked back and forth while rolling her eyes, urging herself to understand what she was supposed to be doing. Sometimes when that happens I have to calm her down, or she will start to hit herself. Sometimes I have to ignore her. And sometimes I have to tell her off for being silly. Tonight I had to do all three, and then I shouted. Immediately her level of distress mounted and consequently it took us another ten minutes to calm down, and another five before we could start again.
Sometimes I still find myself thinking that Grace will grow out of this. Sometimes I tell myself she'll learn not to do it. Most of the time I don't know what to think so I just deal with the situation in hand and try to move on.
After homework, we had tea. Betty had two bites, declared hers was "all gome" and pointed to the freezer asking for ice-cream. When I said no she started screaming and climbing out of her high chair. I tried to calm her down, then when that didn't work I ignored her, and when that didn't work I told her off for being silly. That didn't work either. So then I shouted. Immediately her level of distress mounted ...
You'd think by now I'd have learned not to shout.
Betty is now in bed and Grace is watching the Simpsons, as we negotiated during the homework stand-off. I am desperate to go for a run, both to de-stress and to get some mileage under my belt by way of training. My husband is still at work and not due back for more than an hour, so it will have to be the treadmill.
Except. The treadmill sits in the middle of our front room -- also known in our house as the Old Curiosity Shop. Since the weather and Chris's working hours improved (both a brief respite I now realise) I have been running outside in order to avoid the chaos. So now after a period of neglect I approach the treadmill with caution. Rows of drying shirts hang from it, piles of files are stacked alongside it and a couple of empty DVD cases are balanced on the top of it. I remove all of these and extract the lead. Except, somehow, the machine has moved and is now further away from the plug socket than the lead will reach. I strain and pull at it but the metal mass is unmovable.
My blood pressure is so high I feel as though I might faint. In the olden days I would have had a cigarette and a glass of wine in the back garden until I calmed down (and then had several more of each). Now I'm going to have to be grown up about this and set my alarm for early tomorrow morning. I'm not sure how I feel about this but maybe the best thing to do is just to deal with it and move on.
I am not going to go and shout at the treadmill...