So it’s the last official day of the school holidays and, with properly nasty weather driving icy salt into my holiday wounds, I am thoroughly, absolutely and entirely defeated. De.Feat.Ed.
Today, in a last ditch effort to brighten our sickness-ridden, no-holiday holidays, I drove the children out of the bad weather of home into the bad weather of the city. There was a lot of whinging and arguing about what we might do, what there might be to eat, what music was playing and whose drink bottles was whose – all stuff that has been playing on high rotation on the domestic front for the last 12 days. Every day I’ve pestered about putting clothes away, picking up towels, using initiative, getting away from the telly, not arguing…blah blah – all routine, normal stuff. I had visions of getting out of the pester zone into some shiny, quirky treasure-filled nook that has amusements and amazements and things to fill the memory banks and the imagination.
The weather gods pretty much shat all over that idea with their bitter up-yours-parents-of-school-age-kids blitz. There was a tantrum and a grizzly reception to my suggestions of library and museum and – already showing victim-of-conquest signs – I booked us tickets to the cinema. In the short wait between booking and session time, there was another two tantrums (one involving Lollywood – thanks for that extra helpful touch Village Cinemas) and then a blissful 94 minutes of popcorn scented, pester free Pixar hypercolour. Still, I couldn’t help but look at the little green exit man with envy and longing. Exit Man is my idea of the perfect superhero, coming to the rescue of people who need to get away from being needed.
Afterward, the “I’m hungry’s” and “I wants” chorus struck up about 10 metres along the road from the cinema. My breathing started to go through my nose while my lips pressed on each other for comfort. There was no sign of Exit Man.
There was a scene at the sandwich bar over white versus brown bread (ending with the brown being chucked on the floor mid five year old tantrum). By this stage my knuckles were whiter than the coveted bread and I was all ‘that’s it, we’re going’ stomp.
Then I lost my carpark exit ticket somewhere between leaving my car spot and getting to the boom gate and I had to stop, get out and search. People were beeping. Tears came out. I found it, I wept with relief and frustration combined.
There was fighting on the way home. Something about being whipped with a banana peel. I had to do groceries on account of having nothing but an old chicken carcass in the fridge. There was trolley conflict, in the midst of which I caught sight of the cover of Country Style which heralded their new short story winner, which was not me GOD DAMMIT. I’ve entered that short story comp five years running with narry a nibble. Bitter and twisted, I turned away from the magazine stand vowing not to read the winning story. EVER. The kids hooliganed on heedless.
People probably looked at me and thought, “Why isn’t that mother doing something about her kids” but I had nothing left. Nothing. I just ignored them as they got in people’s way and pressed the mince packets and put chuppachups in the trolley. Wordlessly I pushed on. I got through the checkout, I paid, I went to the bottleshop.
By this stage my icy silence was becoming disconcerting. My older daughter told the others to behave. Someone farted – loudly. I didn’t laugh. For the first time ever – a fart wasn’t funny. Instead it smacked of disrespect (amongst other nasty bottom dwelling things). They knew they’d overstepped the line.
I gave them what they wanted for dinner, didn’t bother with vitamins or pester them to finish. I didn’t read them a story or tuck them in properly.
Some days I guess we have to stop trying because it’s the ignored trying that tips us over the edge and clean off our rockers. Better to do nothing and be ignored. Some days we’re just threadbare and weakened and want to lie down and play dead.
Once they were asleep (I did kiss them, but it was a brisk peck, kind of an antikiss), I did play dead. I fell onto the couch and lay against my husband like a wounded soldier. He got me a drink. He went to bed. Now I’m on the couch with the Sex and the City movie on, complaining my head off to you about my bad day.
On the spectrum of possible bad days isn’t really a bad day at all, just a fed up, beaten surrendered one. I feel better for sharing it, thank you for listening, I hope yours has been better.
I’m off to bed so I can wake up in a new, winning day. After I have a cola chuppachup (suck on that you dastardly little hooligans). On Monday, school will rescue me from the kids and for a little while I might be able to follow Exit Man to whatever blissful place he runs.