Just Don’t Call Me Late For Dinner

In our loved up pre children days of being separated by travel G and I would spend hours on the phone. We would tell each other in long form of our undying love and then move onto the important things. What did you have for breakfast? What did you eat for lunch? What are you wearing?

When the first baby arrived the phone would be placed to her ear as she made the appropriate noises, phone calls would often be cut short with a baby’s cry and a need for an infant grease and oil change. G would arrive home with something cute for her, thoughtful for me.

When the second child arrived life was a little busier, it’s fair to say I was a little less understanding. G’s timing with travel news was never good. With one child on the boob while another screamed for attention G would gently mention he was going away.

“I have to go to Paris next week for a meeting.”

“You have to go to Paris? I’d say with a hint of sarcasm and baby vomit on my shoulder.

By the time the third child came along G would have to unlatch me from the leg of his pants as he climbed into the taxi. With a look of terror in my eyes I’d watch him pack, casting a scornful eye over his wet pack, passport holder and suitcase.

It was possibly around this time that the phone calls changed. My husband has a unique talent; he appears to have a sixth sense for the exact moment that I’m about to sit down and feed either myself or my children. Pull out a breast to feed a baby – the phone will ring. Start spooning spaghetti into the mouth of a two year old – the phone will ring. Utter the words “hurry up and eat your breakfast so we can get in the car for school” – there goes the phone again.

“You’ve never got time to talk, you never call me?” he’ll say looking hurt from his perfectly calm and peaceful surroundings.

“There’s a bit going on” you’ll answer while fishing the lego out of the toaster with a clarinet squawking in the background and round three of a wrestling match on the couch.

We began this morning with a bumpy start. An extra body lay in the middle of my bed. “WHY IS THE AIR-CONDITIONER ON?!” the youngest little traveller sat up in bed and screamed like a madman. “I’M FREEZING!”

“Good morning to you too” I reached for my phone: 5.55am.

“I TURNED IT OFF LAST NIGHT – SOMEONE KEEPS TURNING IT ON AND I’M FREEZING!”

‘Can you please relax? No-one should wake up with someone screaming in their bed. Go and wash your face and I’ll meet you in the kitchen. Would you like some eggs?”

And just like that, he turned into a normal human being. “Oh yes please!” he smiled a cheesy grin – because when you’re eight schizophrenic behaviour is all a part of the charm of the morning routine.

As bodies began to emerge in the hallway flickers of energy set off reactions. Someone farted as they walked past someone, it was believed to have been done on purpose.

“You’re so GROSS!”

“I can’t find my PE shorts” someone screamed from the top of the stairs.

“Someone has STOLEN my softball socks” said another voice.

And then the real trouble began.

Recorder practice.

“MAKE HIM STOP!” a chorus of voices yelled.

I poured the water into the saucepan, and while I waited for it to boil I filled the coffee machine, sang to myself and pretended I couldn’t hear them. I looked over towards the youngest traveller who had his face pushed into the glass table, he appeared to be making patterns by running his nose along the glass top.

“MAKE HIM STOP PLAYING THE RECORDER!”  a voice yelled again from the top of the stairs.

I added the eggs to the boiling water which obviously sent a direct message to G’s sixth sense.

The phone rang.

“Well hellooooooooo” said a ridiculously chirpy husband “I’m sitting here with Grandma and we wondered what everyone was up to? Is anyone up for a bit of FaceTime”.

I reminded myself I had an audience.

“Sure!” I began to look around the room for my iPad, remembering the last time I saw it was in the hands of a child so it was sure to be out of power, covered in fingerprints and hidden from view. “Let me just find an iPad”.

I passed the eggs to the little traveller as he filled his father in on what was going on at school. I put the next lot of eggs in the saucepan. In between buttering toast and fishing for clean cutlery from the dishwasher I called the next child down for breakfast. The next set of eggs were hand delivered as the second child spoke to Grandma. The third lot of eggs were just about to come out as the third traveller appeared. Two more pieces of toast were buttered, plates retrieved. Lunch boxes were sorted. The fourth lot of eggs went in as the eldest traveller graced us with her presence. With her hair in a top knot, a layer of mascara and latest skinny jeans I envied the time she’d had to get ready. She draped herself across the couch as she spoke to her father. An enormous sense of relief came as I passed the final round of eggs to her as she chatted, I could see coffee in my future. I scanned the room; each child happily fed, dressed and organised for school.

“You should probably go, what’s the time?” G said to the eldest child while Grandma smiled in the background.

With an eyebrow raised and more than a hint of judgement she looked in my direction “I think we’ll be awhile yet – Mum’s still in her pyjamas!”

I stopped dead in my pyjama wearing tracks. What?! What did she think I’d been doing? I took a deep breath and made my way to the coffee machine.

“Just tell your Mum to call when she has a minute.”

I didn’t need to – he called again at lunch.

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