How was your day really?

It’s no big deal.

How was your day?

Three children had vaccinations, one had a trip to the orthodontist – you bribed them with a donut before dropping them all to school. Later, you picked everyone up, one went to guitar lessons, one went to the library and two stayed with you. Dinner was easy – salmon, everyone was in bed by 8.30 after they’d done their homework.

But how was your day really?

The one that didn’t go, the one that didn’t need a needle – he complained. It wasn’t fair, “I know they’ll get a treat. Are you sure I don’t need a needle? Please let me come with you”. You tried not to laugh when you were made to promise that he’d get an injection next year, and then you felt miserable while you watched him walk into the school yard on his own.  Maybe he could have come? No, of course he couldn’t, that’s ridiculous. Toughen up, although driving to school for one child seems like such a waste of time. Maybe he could have come? Stop it, that’s ridiculous.

Even though you got to the surgery on time – the doctor didn’t. While you waited the troops became restless. One child was reading the newspaper and wanted answers on the Syria/Turkey situation. You didn’t have any. The other two invented a new game – lick tag. It started simply, there were a few giggles and then as time progressed things got out of hand. You attempted the whisper yell “sit down!” There were more giggles, someone tripped, you grabbed an arm and yanked just that little bit too hard, you made eye contact and did the scary mother smile “I. said. sit. down”.

The doctor took one look at your Australian record book and felt the need to tell you it was wrong. “We don’t do it like that here”. You’ve had this conversation in six countries. It’s never the same, nobody does it the same. You have vaccination numbers and torn bits of paper stapled into the corners of each book. It’s suddenly looks messy and disorganized. You know not to argue, just ask politely, stay calm, explain why it has to be done. When you return to Australia, this will all be worth it.

Lick tag has changed location and while the nurse is gathering her tools someone has crashed into the blood pressure monitor, you mentally calculate the cost of repairs while you dive to catch it. You’ve lost the right page, you frantically flick through the booklet again, while the doctors taps her fingers on the desk. You smile, you say thank you while she signs the appropriate forms and contain yourself from saying “Does this look like fun for me? Do you think I want to be here?”

There was hysteria when the nurse walked into the room with the needles. One child tried to leave, the other began to cry, but thank god one of the travellers pulled themselves together and decided to be the vaccination hero. “I’ll go first” she said with her chest puffed for effect.

“Hold my hand Mummy?” and you smiled and held her hand and thought of her as a baby, cradled into your body, two months, four months, six months. Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Tripoli, Adelaide, Calgary, Houston and now Qatar. “It’ll just be a pinch and it will be over”.

When the youngest traveller got scared his two big sisters sat at his feet and you tried not to cry – you realized that they will look after each other. There will be fighting, but ultimately they will look after each other.

You glance at the clock, you’re late, you’re on the phone to the orthodontist when the nurse comes looking for you, she says something to the travellers and disappears.

“What did she say?”

All three travellers shrug, no-one can remember. It was thirty seconds ago.

You walked from room to room to try and find her. What did she say? What did you miss?

You give up.

You apologize to the dentist as you walk quickly into his room, you made small talk about the school and kept your fingers and toes crossed that the other two travellers are behaving in the waiting room. You held her hand while they gave her the needle for the anesthetic and then again as they removed the tooth. She looks so long laying in the chair. How did she get so big? When they placed the tooth on the table you wondered if that was one of the teeth that had kept you awake at night, “do you think she’s teething?”

The donuts were bought, there was more negotiating, back in the car, back to school, back through security. You spoke to the school nurse and made photocopies. They too wanted to let you know your book was wrong.

“You don’t need to do that now. Do they do that in Australia?” You smiled, shrugged at the appropriate times, agreed when necessary. You know not to argue.

Grocery shopping can be done with your eyes closed, you know each isle well enough that a job unpacking shelves would require no training. You put petrol in the car, write a blog post, scroll through a news feed and then realize you’re late for school pick up. How did that happen? You grab the guitar as you run past the front door.

You guiltily wave a child off to guitar lessons after remembering you’ve once again forgot to go and buy him a pick. Others get started on homework, you say no to requests for cookies and chocolate milk, and yes to smoothies and finishing whats in your lunch box. You pick one person up from one gate at 4, another from another gate at 4.15, and then it comes, it always comes:

“What’s for dinner?”

You want to say that it’s poo on toast with a glass of wee on the side, but you tell them it’s salmon because you know everyone likes salmon.

As you drive home you check their little faces in your rear vision mirror for a gauge on how everyone’s doing. Someone is gazing out of their window, someone’s singing, someone is reading and someone thinks you don’t know that they’re on their electronic game.

After dinner it’s baths, teeth brushing, pajamas and reading. You have repeated your requests. Get in the bath, get in the bath, get in the bath, I told you to get in the bath. Why aren’t you in the bath.

And then there’s silence. Just the two of you.

How was your day?

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  • Valentina VK

    a couple of eveninga ago i was sitting for about a second on the sofa, both girls asleep, on the phone with my husband on the other side of the ocean for work. I told him I had to make all the papers, payments and photos for the passport of our new little one and he came up with a “oh you did not do it already ? you should prioritize better!”.
    I was too tired to say anything, after the call was over i stood up and start to reset the not bearable mess around (the bereable one stays there now, i cant fight any longer against it)…3 hours later before going to bed i sent him an email making for the first time a full list of what i did since 7am. All of it, even if im sure i forgot some still. Ps: just considering the time of breastfeeding one and changing poo and wee of both, it is hard to prioritize the rest. And i concluded that i couldnt figure out if a good symbol for a party of mothers would be the camel or rather the donkey. two minutes later he answered me that for sure the only donkey was him, as his remark was totally stupid.
    so i went to bed knowing that i love a smart guy 🙂

  • TryToFocus

    “poo on toast with a glass of wee on the side”
    I have tears running down my face. That is GOLD – pure gold!

    Thank you for putting it into words. My four year old’s response to any dinner menu is always “but I don’t like that”. Poo on toast – see how she likes that! huh!

  • MsCaroline

    God, I HATE that question! Why didn’t I ever think of ‘poo on toast’?

  • Anonymous

    Sat on the beach reading your blog and shared the poo on toast comment. I laughed and laughed and laughed. They looked at me and said ‘that’s not funny’ Oh yes it is!!!!

    • 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

      Whenever I say it to them I get “Muuuuuuuuuum, that’s not funny” and I too smile to myself and think Oh yes it is. So glad you agree. 🙂

  • Suzie

    I’m a Renmark girl and my mum used to say ‘shit on toast’ when she was really fed up with us asking ‘what’s for tea?’. Perhaps it’s a regional thing.

    I say Monkey Brains and Elephant Bums. The seven year old says ‘Oh, mum, that’s NOT FUNNY!’ and the four year old looks at me and says ‘are you joking? you’re joking aren’t you? Yeah, you’re joking….right?’

    I love that I can still fool her a little bit. Those days are numbered though, I think.

  • 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

    Suzie, Granny Max used to say “shit on a shovel”. How many other Riverland kids were told they were eating poo for dinner??? I think the local ABC needs to get on to this. Thank you for the Monkey Brains and Elephant Bums, I shall be borrowing it this week.

  • wsb

    i have also heard ‘shit on toast’ and i am from QLD but it was a friend’s mum – i think it is funny too 🙂

  • Fraudster

    A lovely, poignant piece of writing, Kirsty.


    Love this post. My family is well aware I can’t stand being asked ‘what’s for dinner?’, but over time I’ve come to grit my teeth, hold my tongue and remember that I am blessed to have them asking. And sometimes I even answer!