(This was first published in Le News 22 January 2015)
What’s the music of your morning? These days, mine is far less ‘Morning Mood’ and more ‘Ride of the Valkyries’; less sipping herbal tea as I watch the sun peer pinkly over the Alps, and more hefty contributions to the Swear Jar as I run around trying to get everybody ready and out of the door.
6:30: My alarm goes off and immediately, every animal in the house wakes up and starts clamouring for breakfast: the goldfish leaps like a dolphin, the Guinea Pigs pipe loudly from the basement and the cat quickly becomes completely hysterical. This, despite the fact that they all have food right in front of them! Goldfish-nibbly things, pellets, dry food.
Luckily, no human member of the family is disturbed by the cacophony. Because we wouldn’t want them to have to wake up early, would we?
6:35: I get up and head into the kitchen, stepping over the cat, who is now lying on the stairs, miming death from starvation. I feed the damn cat. And the damn Guinea Pigs. Then I start making human breakfast.
6:45: Wake up the bigger child, who immediately presents me with my task list for the day (‘I dreamed I had a play date with 15 of my best friends. Could you organise that for me?’).
Wake the smaller child.
‘I hardly slept a wink,’ she informs me acidly. This is a total lie. She snored like a chainsaw all night.
7:00: I put breakfast on the table. The smaller child rejects her porridge, on the grounds that she is a vegetarian.
7:05: I put the days’s paraphernalia into a big pile of backpacks, water bottles, violins, recorders, library books, pottery aprons, coats and gloves, and tell the children take what they need. It’s like the cornucopia scene in The Hunger Games, but without the weapons.
7:10: The smaller child finally relaxes her vegetarian principles enough to lick the honey off the porridge. Which is something, I suppose.
7:15: I start issuing the Morning Instructions. These are the same instructions that I issue every school morning, but which apparently still need to be issued: Take your plates to the sink! Get dressed! Brush your teeth! Do not kick your sister. Get your foot off her face right now! Pack your school bags!
7:20: I catch and refocus the smaller child, who is running around the lounge naked, with her stockings on her head, singing ‘Roar’. She has yet to see Katy Perry in a video, but I think she’s captured her spirit really well.
7:25: I go upstairs to refocus the bigger child, who has completely lost interest in getting ready and has instead embarked on her most ambitious art project yet. Picasso could not have been more outraged, had he been interrupted in the middle of Guernica and told to go and brush his teeth.
7:35: I lift the bigger child’s school bag, immediately get a hernia and have to spend valuable minutes unpacking her fifteen-volume collection of Ivy and Bean books, despite her protests that she will now ‘have nothing to read on the bus’.
7:40: I push the children towards the door, bags in hand. A minute later I find them both standing in the hall, staring at the door handle.
‘Open it!’ I shout, and they do.
It’s clear that, in the event of a zombie apocalypse / escaped zoo-tiger / Big Bad Wolf scenario, they will both be eaten unless I’m around to shout, ‘Run!’
8:00: That’s it. It’s over. They’re on the bus. And I can finally sit down, sip my chamomile tea and wait for the sun to peer pinkly over the Alps … steal across the garden and into my lounge … lighting up the school bags, backpacks and violin case that sit, forlornly, in the middle of the floor.