The pygmies have gone feral. You will be aware from previous posts just how traumatic this is for me, and will therefore understand how keen I am to rectify the situation. I am after all the original Nazi Mother, whose children walk to heel, fetch the gin bottle on command and stand obediently next to the television in order to change channels for me (the remote control having been flushed by the three year old some time ago).
An event at work necessitated an entire week away from home for me. My husband’s hours being the way they are – and his reaction when I tentatively suggested he take the week off work – meant that the only option was to give the Nanny a break and pack the pygmies off to grandparents for a holiday. It is no small ask to expect the aged parents to run around after two and three year olds, and on no account would I burden anyone with the mantle of looking after the entire trio of infant terrorists. Fortunately we have three sets of grandparents in play (I am fully in favour of divorce – the childcare benefits are second to none, not to mention the extra presents) so I duly shipped off a child to each willing victim.
The children had a ball. I received daily texts and e-mails with photos of my darling children romping around sunny gardens without me. Clearly the grandparents thought this would make me feel better. I’m sure they weren’t intending to ram home the guilt bullet quite so vehemently… By all accounts they were complete angels, charming elderly neighbours with a veritable stream of pleases and thank yous and may I get downs. The entire week, it seems, was spent basking in the glory of my adorable children.
I have no idea where these adorable children have gone. On Sunday morning I took receipt of three revoltingly tired, disgustingly spoilt, hideously obnoxious children. They screamed, they fought, they hit and they bit. They hurled themselves to the floor and muttered obscenities in my general direction. They demanded juice, treats, sweets and puddings, shoes on, shoes off, pick up, put down…
Four hours after missing my children with an ache akin to grief, I was ready to list them on eBay. Strike that, I’d have settled for Freecycle. I dragged them to Sainsbury’s, where J made a bee-line for the comics.
“I need a magazine”
“No you don’t. You may WANT a magazine, but you do not NEED a magazine. There is a difference. And anyway, you’re not having one, so it’s academic”.
Yes, this really is the way I speak to my three year old.
My erstwhile perfect son would have nodded meekly at this point, slipped his small hand into mine and trotted off towards the wine aisle to pick out the evening’s tipple. My new son however began to scream. And scream. And scream. And so he continued, for five full minutes, informing me – and quite possibly the entire town – that I was a mean Mummy who didn’t love him, that Papa would have bought him a magazine, he wasn’t going to speak to me again and that Buzz Lightyear wouldn’t speak to me either, just as soon as he found out what I’d done. In a finale worthy of Cirque du Soleil he swept a dramatic arm along the adjacent shelf.
I had held it together pretty well up to that point, employing my tried and tested technique of “proper words, darling, you need to use proper words” to encourage him out of his purple rage. But as a Heinz soup tin bounced off my left shin, and another hit my daughter’s head, I had insufficient patience to continue.
“Why on earth are you making such a fuss about wanting a magazine?” I hissed, “you can’t even READ!”
The middle-aged couple browsing the whole-foods section looked askance as I publicly belittled my child, their fingers itching to speed-dial Social Services and report me for psychological damage. Hand me the phone – I want to report six grandparents for destroying three years’worth of Fascist Parenting…