The Critical Hours: A Protocol

  • 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.

By Karo

Schnazzy East German translator and cricket obsessive residing in England. I have other qualities, too.

8 replies on “The Critical Hours: A Protocol”

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.

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