I have become a bit of a shouty mum.
When my husband points this out, I also become a shouty wife.
‘You have no idea what it’s like, looking after three children for twelve hours a day without a break.’ I say loudly, grasping my tea, so I can’t make any rude hand signals.
My husband opens the fridge.
‘It’s not easy for me either,’ he says staring at the food inside. ‘I’m stuck in the baby’s room doing video calls with hundreds of people, while I can hear everyone else having fun in the garden.’
‘Fun?’ I say, nearly spitting out my tea. ‘Do you think it’s fun trying to stop the baby have his fingers chewed off by the rabbit, while Milk unscrews the slide, and Mayhem buries Storm Troopers in my tomato plants?’
‘I still think you’re a little more shouty than you need to be.’ Says my husband folding two slices of salami into his mouth.
I stare at him. ‘That was for the kids to make home-made pizzas.’
‘You’ve just eaten their home-schooling.’ I say sullenly.
My husband rolls his eyes. ‘How is the home-schooling going?’
I wonder if he is trying to wind me up. I think back to my ‘school’ day.
It starts with Midnight screaming because he can’t push a toy car through his bus window.
‘Ew!’ I say to Milk above the noise. ‘The sound ‘ew’ is what we are learning today.’
Milk waits for me to say something else.
‘Imagine you are eating. Chew. The ‘ew’ sound,’ I say.
Milk writes down, ‘I chew.’
‘Great!’ I say extremely pleased with my teaching. I turn my back on Midnight who is about to throw the bus at me.
I write the words Chew, Flew, New, on our blackboard.
‘Can you think of any other words with the ‘ew’ sound?’
‘Shoe?’ Says Milk.
‘Err, that’s with an o and an e.’
‘Why?’ Asks Milk.
‘I’m not sure.’ I feel the bus hit my shoulder.
‘Blew?’ Says Milk.
‘Yes!’ I pick up the bus and hand it back to Midnight, who throws it immediately under the sofa and screams as he tries to get it out. ‘Blew is a brilliant example, well done.’
Milk writes ‘The Blue Car’ on his piece of paper.
‘Oh no, I thought you meant blew. Like I blew my nose.’ I say.
Milk rubs his head. ‘But blue is an ‘ew’ sound.’
I rub my head too. ‘Shall we do some drawing?’
Mayhem joins in. ‘Look mummy!’ He shoves a piece of paper so close to my face he nearly slices my eyes.
‘Lovely,’ I say at the swirling mass of biro. ‘It’s so good.’
‘It’s an amaze.’ He says. ‘Do you want to follow the line to the treasure?’
‘It’s a maze,’ I say.
Mayhem gives me a look. ‘That’s what I said. Amaze.’
I grab a red pen and follow the scribbled lines round and round but I can’t get to the treasure, because if I do, Mayhem will draw another ‘amaze’ and another, and another, and I will never escape. I rest my forehead on the table.
‘Are you OK mummy? Asks Milk.
‘Not really,’ I say.
Midnight is still screaming, lying on his tummy with one hand under the sofa, trying to reach his bus.
My husband appears. ‘Any chance of a cup of tea?’ he asks, immune to the chaos. ‘I’ve got a call in five minutes.’
‘Only if I can go to the loo. I haven’t been this morning.’ I run for the stairs.
I sit on the toilet for as long as possible, staring at some water on the floor, which is most probably someone’s wee.
‘I’ve got my call now!’ Calls my husband.
I return to an eerie silence. Midnight is not screaming.
Everyone is eating a biscuit.
‘Why are they eating biscuits?’
‘I think they were hungry,’ my husband says sheepishly. ‘Actually, I’ll have a coffee – just leave it on the stairs.’
I finish recounting my traumatic day. ‘So maybe that’s why I’m a little shouty.’ I say, putting my mug on the side. ‘How was your day?’
‘It was really tough, actually. Strange times.’ He gives me a hug. ‘They’ll be going back to school before you know it.’
‘But I like having them here.’
My husband bursts out laughing. ‘You really are impossible.’
‘Strange times,’ I say and manage a smile.