I realise school is not back until next Wednesday, but this letter is to ask you a big favour: could you possibly begin the school term a few days early? I will pay you anything. Anything you ask.
You remember we took the last 5 weeks of term off to go to Tasmania, and so I’ve been with the kids for a few months now; all day, every day. It’s been wonderful, Office. Really fantastic. But I think we may have reached a limit and if you don’t take my children back to school I will likely require institutionalisation.
My eldest daughter has taken to sneaking up behind me when I’m on the phone complaining in coded language to my friends. I would sew little bells to her shoes except that the idea of doing craft right now makes me want to cry and if I start crying, Office, I just might not stop until the Community Mental Heath Team arrive.
I think my middle child has actually forgotten what pants are for and the smallest, usually so easygoing, is turning into a violent criminal. She needs almost no provocation to beat her siblings with a wooden spoon.
In general, the sibling battles have been pretty pitched the last few days. They’re tired of each other. Meanwhile, the house still needs managing -the endless laundry, the toy explosions – and the feeding and watering of the kids is ridiculous. Tapeworms are a real possibility. ‘Mum, I’m hungry. Mum, I’m hungry. Mum, I’m hungry.’
Yesterday one asked ‘What’s for dinner?’ while we were sitting at the table eating lunch. I would have cried except for, well, what I said before about being involuntarily scheduled. Although, a lovely long rest in some crisp, air-conditioned hospital does not sound all bad.
While I’m engaged with the housework and the cooking and the packing and unpacking of the beach bag, the children fight. The sweaty heat is turning the scene around here from Little House into a prison movie. The inmates get sweaty and irritable and start looking for a reason to get angry. Somebody gives somebody else the side-eye, the match is put to a flame and it’s on. One is shrieking, one is weeping and the little one is attacking wildly with the wooden spoon. ‘Hold on!’ I have to tell them. ‘Sorting out this argument is going to be super fun but I just have to clean the toilet first.’
I am tired, Office. My back is hurting. The wide selection of tasty crudites that we began the holidays with have been replaced with the sandy box of Jatz crackers, and in terms of discipline, I am hovering between the pathetic, ironic stage of screaming ‘Don’t you scream at me!’ and rocking in a cornering whimpering ‘you guys…please…’
The problem is that I have completely and utterly run out of patience, and I need those hours between 9 and 3 to restore, Office.