It's Monday morning. In our house that normally means it's the one morning of the week when the children decide to sleep in. And this Monday morning was no different.
Children sleeping in has some benefits.
I am not woken by a poke to the head from our three year old daughter demanding tea. We can enjoy the first coffee of the morning unhindered by outlandish demands from our son and daughter for crisps, chocolate bars, cake and the like. Similarly we don't need to deal with the resulting bedlam when such requests are rejected.
It also means that I can make our daughter's packed lunch for play school unhindered. The normal routine is for me to try and pull the various elements together without her noticing. This of course rarely works.
I realised a long time ago that the all too regular duelling required to get our daughter to agree to anything is all about control. All parents know that. Indeed any fool knows it. Except for me. Initially I thought that our daughter's regular objection to the items I chose for her to eat, wear, drink was a positive attempt at asserting her preference.
It's about making sure SHE gets to choose what's being put in front of her, and she is going to use every trick in the book to ensure that she gets her way. Even if she is choosing exactly the same thing that you had chosen for her in the first place.
Therefore, being able to make three year old daughter's packed lunch, unhindered by demands for particular sandwich fillings, favourite flavour, shape or coloured yoghurts and hysterical rejection of the addition of anything vaguely healthy is a bonus.
Job done this Monday morning, packed lunch prepared before three year old emerged from her bedroom to intercede. Except that I had forgotten her water bottle. Would the usual Hello Kitty one suffice?
Eyes narrowing, realising her opportunity to influence the contents of the lunch had passed, three year old decides she may as well make the most of her opportunity to influence water bottle choice. "No!"
"How about the Dora the Explorer one?" I ask, innocently
"NOOOOO!" Daughter's pent up frustration at being denied opportunity to shine in the 'being difficult' category this morning is showing.
Pink water bottle? Blue One? Water bottle from the bicycle?
All are rejected out of hand. 'I want the Yellow one!" daughter declares. Problem is, we don't have a yellow one. I tell daughter this.
"YES WE DOOOO!" She storms out of room and upstairs.
J, seven year old son and I all look at one another bemused. We often have moments like these. We instinctively feel the camaraderie of the male totally bemused by the irrational behaviour of the female.
There is a bumping sound from the stairs. Daughter arrives back with a yellow water bottle in her hand. "That's mine!" shouts son. indeed it is, it has his name emblazoned in multi coloured letters across it.
"Want this one!" Daughter is defiant.
"You can't have it, it's mine!" Son makes a grab for the water bottle. Both children start scrapping, pulling at the water bottle.
J rolls his eyes. "Shall I stop them or will you?" I ask.
Lovely to start Monday on such a harmonious note.
Separated, our children are glowering from either end of the table. Their arguments don't last long, normally because they find a common enemy in me to unite them again. This is the case at the moment as they are made to sit at the table until they decide upon and then consume their preferred breakfast food.
You see, it's annoying because there is so much else they could be doing. Playing on the X-box, watching Peppa Pig, pushing Chuckyette the scary doll around in her pushchair.
Son chooses toast, as usual. Daughter wants cereal. She wants to choose her own cereal, Why am I not surprised. Lifting her up to view the range of cereals in the wall mounted cupboard that houses them, our daughter prefers the 'ruling out' method of selection.
"This one?" I ask hopefully.
"No." Our little girl answers
"How about this one? Or this one?"
"No. Don't like THAT one!"
After five more attempts we settle on honey puffs. We've not opened the honey puffs for a while. The most sugary breakfast cereal in the firmament of sugary breakfast cereals in our larder, they have congealed into a lumpy mass.
"I' do it!" our daughter shouts as I put the packet on the table. She grabs the packet, tries to pour the contents into her bowl and realises nothing is moving. Before I can intervene she has bashed the packet onto the table, splitting the internal bag and sending the newly un-stuck honey puffs all over the kitchen floor.
Groaning I begin the process of sweeping the goo-ey corns up.
Corns being the operative word as the sugar puffs stick to my feet. My feet are already extraordinarily ugly. My mother once referred to them as invasion barges. They're now ugly and scaly as the sugar puffs stick to the soles.
Son suddenly seems to realise that it being Monday this means he has to go to school. The sniffle he has had all weekend suddenly worsens as it is overlaid with a bad attack of melodrama.
"Beugh! I can't got to school," he says, "I have a sore throat," this second part said in a croaky voice as he clearly remembers it's much better to sound croaky when declaring a sore throat
"You're fine," I insist. "You were fine a few minutes ago."
"What if I lose my voice?" Our is going for the 'you'll be sorry if I'm really poorly' approach.
"Your teachers will thank me for ensuring they have a quiet day with you." I reply.
Not to be outdone, daughter chimes in: "I'm sick too, can't got to play school."
It's one of those occasions when I am glad I married a doctor. J checks both children over before he leaves. Taking temperatures, listening to chests, he does a thorough job confirming that both have slight colds and giving them the all clear for school.
There's much wailing, so J makes a hasty exit.
Diversion is always a good tactic to use when your children are distressed. "Wave to Dad!" I call as J passes the kitchen window on his way to the car. Both children begin to wave, J slowing to acknowledge the greeting.
"Not like that," I call. "Wave from the wrist."
All three of us wave regally, turning our hands ever so slightly in the style of the queen.
J does the eye rolling thing again. "I blame you for everything!" He mouths at me through the window.
Charming! He loves us all very much really!