Jo went away on a three-day retreat this week, leaving me in charge of the kids. On my own.
You need to know that I have the necessary character-traits to be an academic don (merely lacking the necessary ability and application).
On the first day, I had to collect Susannah and one of her friends from their after-school gymnastics club, which obviously entailed taking Noah and Elijah along with me.
When we got home again, I parked the pushchair under the carport, and came back out through the gate to let everyone in through the front door. As I was unlocking the door, my phone rang. The kids pushed past me and disappeared upstairs, as I juggled answering Jo with getting into the house. As she chatted away, telling me about her room and who was in the room next door (see – I do listen…sometimes) Noah crashed back down the stairs demanding drinks and an after school snack. Jo asked to talk with him; then I sorted out cups of squash and cupcakes in the kitchen, and shouted for the kids to come downstairs – I didn’t want them taking drinks upstairs. The girls were already lying on Susannah’s loft-bed, engrossed with her DS, so getting them to come downstairs wasn’t straightforward. Eventually they appeared.
The washing machine light was flashing on and off, so I emptied it out and went to hang the contents on the airer to dry. Elijah started shouting “Dah-dee! Dah-DEE!”
“Hang on – I’m just hanging out the washing!” I called back. He’d probably got stuck climbing the bookshelf: he can’t topple it, and it’s not that high.
“Dah-dee!” “Hang on!”
Job done, I set off upstairs to help him out: not in the boys’ room; not with the other three in susannah’s room; not in my room, the bathroom, the toilet. I go back downstairs. Not in the living room, the dining room (I checked, even though I’d just been in there hanging up clothes), the kitchen, the hall.
I go back upstairs. “Where’s Elijah?” “We don’t know.” “He’s not here.” “I think he’s downstairs.”
I do the circuit again, this time looking behind curtains, the sofa. He’s stopped calling: perhaps he’s playing a hiding game. No Elijah.
Back upstairs. “Where’s Elijah?” “We don’t know.” Unimpressed by the lack of cooperation I’m getting, I go round again a third time. (Because, obviously, a child who isn’t there will always appear if you look enough times…)
By now, I’m starting to get a little stressed-out. After all, at a similar age, while on holiday in
“Guys. I-need-to-find-Elijah!” and, deeply frustrated by their indifference,
“Thanks. For. Your. Help.” I call back over my shoulder…
“I think you didn’t bring him inside,” responds Noah. Now. Not the first time I asked. Now!
I run downstairs,
unlock the kitchen door,
strapped in his pushchair,
sat, all on his own in the cold and by-now dark,
tear-tracks down his cheeks,
is my boy.
When she got home, Susannah’s friend told her mum and dad all about it:
“…He even said thank you to us for helping to look for Elijah. But he didn’t mean it.”
Which is as beautifully funny a description of child-meets-sarcasm as you could care to find.
It goes without saying that I blame Jo, for distracting me at just the wrong moment. And that Susannah’s friend isn’t welcome anymore.
On the second day, I failed to notice that Elijah had removed his shoes when I collected him from his pre-school group at college…
Shoes (I say, shrugging my shoulders).I consider ‘shoes’ to be somewhat of a triumphant storming up the learning curve!