There is a line in the movie “Hook” where Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell is explaining her love for Peter Pan played by Robin Williams. “You know that place between asleep and awake? That place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll be waiting for you”. Well sorry to burst your bubble mate but the only thing you’ll find there are sleep deprived mums flicking through their Facebook profile pictures from 2008 wondering if they will ever look like that again.
It is 4.30am and I am firmly awake. The Baby’s cold is horrendous and the poor little thing can barely breathe at times. Big snotty nose and red eyes, I just want to pick him up and kiss him until he’s better. Sadly all I can do is cradle him on my chest hoping I can ease his breathing.
I’m not annoyed, I’m not angry, how can you be when your baby is poorly? I’m just tired. Actually I’m exhausted.
Yesterday was a school run day and rather than picking all three up at 3.20pm we were given 24 hours notice (as usual) that there’s a staggered pick up time and The Oldest One would need collecting at 4.40pm. Great! We used to live 10 minutes from the school but with our ever growing brood we needed a bigger house, this meant moving to a more affordable location. With that comes a 1.5 hour round trip of a school run, 85% of which is on the M1. The Bearded One is currently not insured on the family car and as his van only seats 2 passengers safely I’m doing the school runs.
Between us we work out a plan. The Bearded One will stay with The Baby so he’s not subjected to an unnecessarily long car journey (and we aren’t subjected to his car seat screams.) I will pick The Middle One and The Small One up then run some errands locally, perhaps stopping in at the library to do their homework then pick up The Oldest One.
Plan in place and having tackled The Baby’s most explosive poo ever (seriously it was a two man job and required a bath!) I head off to collect the kids.
I don’t find the journey to get them too bad, its the only time I truly have to myself, so I take the opportunity to turn the volume up and sing at the top of my lungs. It’s very therapeutic!
Pulling up at school I shuffle into the playground waiting for the kids to come out whilst trying to avoid awkward pleasantries with mums who don’t want to talk to me.
The Small One comes out first, full of cold poor thing, she is desperate to play in the park which is fine in the summer but when it’s drizzling and freezing it’s a definite no. Then comes the daily “keep your coat on” battle.
As we’re in the midst of the battle The Middle One joins us. The kids are very popular at school and their friends often want to chat to them after school. This leaves me to be ignored by the respective mums so I usher everyone off to the car picking up the pace before anyone can talk to us.
Usual questions commence, where are we going, what’s for dinner and what are we doing at the weekend? The Small One realises Red Nose Day is approaching so explains I NEED to buy her a nose immediately.
I explain we have a few things to do before picking The Oldest One up. They aren’t remotely interested, they just want to know what they can eat.
Bank closed and realising I’m no longer a member of Milton Keynes library I find myself trying to devise ways of killing time. I stop for fuel (which I NEVER do much to The Bearded One’s disgust) at the busiest petrol station known to man. There’s always at least a 10 minute wait for a pump, that will waste some time!
It’s clear. Literally 2 cars. Not a single queue. What are the chances?! I always choose a pay at pump option so I don’t have to leave the kids in the car. Or worse take them in with me and run the chocolate and crisps assault course to the till.
Petrol purchased and I decide to stop at Mamas & Papas to spend my voucher on a change bag. The Small One is straight on the rocking horse, I figure the staff are used to this but this is the snootiest place on earth. The looks we got were as if one of the kids did a shit in the middle of their baby bundle display. Ignoring them I walk over the change bags. £115. We walk straight back out.
Next stop boots. Shit, crisps and chocolate in here too. I find a nice change bag and as I reach to pick it up I realise The Small One has managed to open some juggling balls and they’re rolling around on the floor. We leave with The Bearded One messaging me saying he’d get me one off eBay.
We go to Tesco to buy some drinks. The Bearded One and I are cautious about how much sugar we give the kids, not from a health perspective but because it sends them fucking mental. I’m ignoring the requests for mars milkshakes and head to the fruit shoot section. Experience tells me to avoid blue coloured drinks! Ribena purchased and I’m guilted into buying 3 types of flavoured milk as an after dinner treat. The “can I have it now?” questions start as the receipt pops out the self service till.
It’s still no where close to collection time so we head to Wilko’s to buy The Dog a chew toy. Saying no to various hamster paraphernalia we go to pay. Massive queue and only one woman on the till. I reach for my phone to text The Bearded One about my annoyance at M&P prices and realise my battery has died. Shit I don’t actually know what time it is, how long have we been in here? I can feel my anxiety rising. Another till has now opened but the woman manning it has gone to assist the original woman with her till roll. I’m trying to subtly glance at other customers watches to get an idea of the time. Can’t see a bloody thing. That reminds me, my glasses are ready for collection on Thursday. After debating whether to throw to the chew toy away and storm out in a dramatic fashion we are called to a till. I turn around and The Small One has some pink flashing love heart hen do lights on her head. Glancing at the time on the receipt we’re on time, phew!
Heading back to the car having made a reluctant stop at Mamas and Papas again to buy “Ewan the Sleep Sheep” we open our Ribenas. Holy shit these are sweet. Oh god no, sugar!!!!
By the time we arrive at the school, a mere 10 minute journey, The Middle One and The Small One are bouncing off the ceiling. A tired The Oldest One joins us having been praised by the performing head teacher trying to impress the ofsted inspector. 10 minutes after her Ribena consumption and she joins the other two on the ceiling.
The school run takes 45mins at 3.20pm. When it’s 5pm it takes a hell of a lot longer. We hit traffic on the M1 at the peak of the sugar rush. I’m ready to cry.
The Middle One can’t control himself, his fingers are up his nose, in his sisters ears. The Small One is singing none stop until she crashes and falls asleep. The Oldest One is using my head rest as a drum kit for her feet.
I decide we need to play a car game. Our usuals aren’t appealing so the kids suggest the “yes or no” game. For those not familiar with this, the idea is you ask a question where the answer can only be yes or no and the other person has to think of an alternative response.
For example. MWTMH – does the traffic in Northampton at 5pm make you suicidal? It absolutely does!
You get the gist.
The kids are BRILLIANT at this. So much so that it actually makes it really hard to have a conversation with them for the rest of the evening. The Bearded One and I agreed on fish and chips for dinner so as I pull up having told The Middle One (for the 100th time) that if he misbehaves again he’ll be on time out, I’m trying to understand who wants what…
Me “Does everyone want chips?”
Kids “Not sure”
Me “I’m not playing the yes or no game, I’m trying to get dinner sorted. Do you want sausages? “
OH. MY. GOD.
Eventually I take The Oldest One in with me to give The Middle One a chance to calm down without her trying to get him into trouble. The Small One has completely passed out at this point and as I watch them in the window I can see The Middle One dressing up in The Oldest One’s clothes. Good lord.
I ask the woman behind the counter how many portions of chips she’d recommend for a family of 5. “Hmmm well maybe 1, maybe 2”.
I stare at her as if to say – well I could’ve fucking guessed! 3 large portions of chips and various sausage/pie additions purchased and we’re nearly home.
As we pull up I’m in the middle of explaining that The Baby is asleep so we need to go in quietly and realise they’re all already out the car.
As I pick up the dinner which has tipped over in the footwell and collect various school bags, gym bags and lunch boxes I stare at the car wondering if it would just be easier to sleep in there tonight.
I walk through the door and see The Bearded One smiling at me, The Baby is still asleep, The Dog has nearly shat himself with excitment about his chew toy and the kids are really happy. Especially with the chocolate milk and at that moment it’s all totally worth it… until the next sugar rush that is!