The Critical Hours: A Protocol

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  • 6:45: A piercing scream. Younger child is awake and politely asking for a cup of milk. I stumble downstairs and fiddle with the microwave whilst dodging small cars on the kitchen floor.
  • 6:47: I hold and feed the child. All is quiet.
  • 6:48: Older child comes running and proceeds to bounce on the bed. I might as well get up.
  • 6:52: I get in the shower. I turn on the water. Younger child informs me that HE NEEDS A WEE. I jump out to help him on to the toilet. Everything is now wet.
  • 6: 54: I get back in the shower. Younger child slips and falls. He’s fine, he’s fine.
  • 6:55: I turn on the water. Older child wants something. I start singing.
  • 7:00: My alarm goes off. My hands are wet. My phone is far away.
  • 7: 10: I’m dressed. The children are playing nicely. Experience has taught me that getting them dressed while still upstairs is the only acceptable way to do things. I can’t find older child’s pinafore. I hate uniforms.
  • 7:15: Still no pinafore. Older child hates trousers. I hate tights. Guess who loses. Older child will wear summer dress today.
  • 7:20: Children don’t want to stop playing. I’M THE WORST MOTHER.
    Playmobil figures grouped around a campfire

    To dress or not to dress? The elders are deliberating…

  • 7:25: Younger child doesn’t like my choice of trousers for him. Guess who loses.
  • 7:30: We are downstairs and out of tuna mayo. Older child will not accept substitutes in her lunchbox.
  • 7:32: Older child does not like apples.
  • 7:33: Older child does not like tomatoes anymore.
  • 7:34: Older child has NEVER LIKED cucumbers.
  • 7:35: I remember otherwise. Cucumber it is. She won’t eat it, of course.
  • 7:40: Younger child drops his chocolate spread toast onto his chosen trousers. Tears. The tears!
  • 7:45: Older child can’t find any blank paper. Screams. Younger child rolls on the floor because he WANTS TELLY. TELLY. TELLY! Also, he NEEDS A POO!!!
  • 7:46: I’m upstairs changing younger child’s underwear. Older child wants to know how to spell “insects.” NOW!
  • 7:47: I race downstairs to spell “insects.” Remember I haven’t made coffee.
  • 7:48: We’re out of coffee. NO COFFEE!
  • 7:50: I find a discarded piece of paper on the floor saying, “Bugs and insex.” I feel better.
    "Bugs and insex" in child's handwriting

    This story needed to be written

  • 8:00: Time to brush our teeth! Children hide under my desk.
  • 8:03: While brushing my teeth, I hear screaming. I race downstairs to find younger child has banged his head on the underside of my desk. He’s fine, he’s fine.
  • 8:05: I force-brush a lot of teeth. Screaming, spitting, running away. I need coffee and remember I forgot to eat breakfast.
  • 8:10: Time to get dressed. Where are everyone’s gloves???
  • 8:13: We don’t need gloves. It’s probably not cold anymore. I look out the window. It’s raining.
  • 8:14: This is bad. We meant to go by bike. There is no plan B, because the buggy broke yesterday.
  • 8:15: Older child cries, because SHE WANTS TO GO ON HER BIKE!
  • 8:16: It’s only drizzling, really.
  • 8:17: I can’t find younger child’s hat.
  • 8:18: I also can’t find younger child.
  • 8:19: He’s in the kitchen, taking off his trousers.
  • 8:20: We need to be out of the door in 5 minutes’ time. Older child remembers she forgot to put her homework in her bag.
  • 8:21: Where is the homework? Older child forgot where she has put it. Younger child NEEDS A WEE.
  • 8:22: I find the homework. Older child’s shoes are too tight, and she NEEDS HELP. Also, can I plait her hair today?
  • 8:23: I can’t. Younger child won’t put on his bike helmet. He has this habit of holding himself completely stiff when he’s angry. Putting a stiff child into a bike seat is not easy. Not. Easy.
  • 8:24: Older child needs gloves. There aren’t any. Older child’s HANDS ARE FALLING OFF FROM THE COLD. We’re still indoors.
  • 8:25: Older child needs help with her bike. My bike is in the front. Older child WANTED TO BE IN FRONT! We’re still indoors, and our hall is very small.
  • 8:26: We’re out! Only one minute late! Drinking that coffee would have cost too much time anyway.
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Karo

Schnazzy East German translator and cricket obsessive residing in England. I have other qualities, too.
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KaroThe Critical Hours: A Protocol

8 Comments on “The Critical Hours: A Protocol”

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  1. Avatar of freckle [M]
    freckle [M]

    Ye-eeeesh I’m going to put my plans for children on the backest back burner again. Neither of are morning persons, how will we survive.

    1. Avatar of Karo
      Karo

      Make her tell you all about the times you were hiding in the kitchen in order to take off your trousers. These stories get so much better in the retelling ;)

  2. Avatar of Sara Habein
    Sara Habein

    My times like this is often interspersed with me saying to the children, “YOU WILL NOT DIE” about some thing they don’t want to do/eat/etc. Also, “Just because you put a hat on doesn’t mean you don’t have to brush your hair!” I’ve also done my fair share of forced teeth-brushing.

    1. Avatar of Karo
      Karo

      Oh! I forgot all about the “I hate polo shirts! WHY do I need to wear a polo shirt with my uniform?”… The list goes on.

    1. Avatar of Karo
      Karo

      “Not my wobbly tooth!!!!!”
      Today totally topped this: we had projectile vomiting and pooped pants. The stories I could tell…

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