The Diary of a Stressed-Out, Sleep-Deprived Mother: The Isolation Edition Part 3

During lockdown, I have had the unfortunate experience of falling into the “extremely clinically vulnerable” category and have therefore had to shield throughout the Covid-19 pandemic so far. For the first 10 weeks, I was unable to leave my house at all. When I was confined to the house in the early days, I had to get inventive with exercise in order to prevent my love for chocolate truffles from getting the better of my physique and causing me to emerge from lockdown resembling Jabba The Hutt’s fatter sister.

I have worked out that running round the perimeter of my garden 167 times is equivalent to 5K (I worked this out using my apple watch). Exercising in the garden will also mean that I can workout whilst the kids play and that I’ll be able to keep a close watch on them at the same time (essential when toddlers are involved). At first, I am enjoying the exercise and, although I have acknowledged that it is going to take dedication in order to build my fitness back up again (I lost every shred of fitness I had when I was sick and in hospital over Christmas), I am left feeling far more energised after each session. Unfortunately, because I’m so out of practice, my new found enthusiasm for running results in a knee injury after only about a week. After foolishly continuing to run on this injury, after a few days I am walking with a profound limp. I know that I need to rest my leg as much as possible, but we all know that looking after two toddlers is completely incompatible with any form of rest. Whereas I try and rest my knee as much as I can, the vast majority of my day is spent chasing after the kids, my mobility so impaired that I look like the scientist in Splash! after he accidentally injects his leg with local anaesthetic during an altercation at the dentist, resulting in him dragging the temporarily useless limb behind him as he attempts to mobilise.

Whilst I am injured, the government announce that shielded individuals may leave the house once a day to do exercise from the 1st of June. This means that instead of running several kilometres by doing monotonous laps of my small garden, I am now permitted to go out and go road running, for example. I receive several messages from friends and family following this announcement delighting in this news and reinforcing the fact that I can now run somewhere other than in the garden. Since I am still walking like Long John Silver, however, I am forced to explain to everyone that I am unable to run in public yet for fear of looking like an utter laughingstock.

Since my knee is taking a while to improve, I carry on with some core exercises in the garden, so as to try and continue to do something remotely athletic. I have a yoga mat and I position this on the lawn in order to facilitate my workout, which consists mostly of sit ups and planks. The kids seem to think that it is utterly hilarious to run over and sit on my abdomen whilst I do said sit ups, or to jump on my back whilst I do the planks. Of course, this is not funny at all, as anyone who has undertaken such exercises will know (planks are particularly evil, but they really do improve your core, so the pain is worth it).

Late one afternoon, I am struggling through another core workout session, and as usual the kids come bounding over, ready to pounce on me at the most inconvenient and painful stage of the exercise. I manage to fight them off nicely the first few times, but then, during a sit up, Edward launches himself at my belly whilst Henry comes down on my legs like a tonne of bricks. Of course, this means he slams straight into my immensely painful knee. Blinded by the intensity of the resultant searing pain, I briefly lose all of my inhibitions and yell at the top of my voice “GET OFF ME YOU B*STARD CHILDREN!” As the kids retreat towards the house, alarmed by my sudden outburst, I clap eyes on my husband (who has just arrived home from work and has been watching me from the doorway without my knowledge so as not to interrupt my workout) who is looking extremely shocked and confused at what he has just heard. I have to spend quite a bit of time explaining myself and reassuring him that the children are in fact biologically his; the “b*stard” part was simply said for effect in the heat of an intensely painful moment and was not some sort of impulsive revelation as to the true parentage of our sons.

You may recall that in my last blog post, I detailed several “near misses” regarding the children narrowly escaping serious injury as a result of their hazardous actions. Unfortunately, my streak of luck where this is concerned comes to an abrupt end when Henry attempts some ambitious acrobatics at bath time one evening, and essentially somersaults out of the bath and lands in a crooked heap on the bathroom floor in very dramatic style. As usual, my anal sphincter loosens suddenly as I see him crash to the floor, and my heart proceeds to skip a good few beats in the immediate aftermath as I notice he has landed at quite a strange angle.

I am able to breathe somewhat of a sigh of relief when I watch him roll onto his back and start crying (he was able to move and was still conscious, which are both good signs following a decent head injury. Obviously the prognosis is a bit more bleak if you find yourself unconscious and paralysed). However, I realise that I am going to have to get him looked at by a doctor as I notice a large egg rapidly appearing on his forehead and expanding at an alarming rate before my very eyes. Whereas it’s true that both my husband and I are doctors, it is always best to stick to parenting only when it comes to your own kids, and leave the doctoring to a non-emotionally involved third party. This is because parental instincts risk clouding your professional judgement.

The impressive egg on Henry’s head

Although we are sure that Henry will probably be fine with a bit of calpol and TLC, we know we will be in serious sh*t if we don’t get him checked officially and then, God forbid, something adverse does happen. Although I am naturally feeling very guilty that he has injured himself on my watch, I know from experience that kids with head injuries are seen so often in A&E departments, and that professionals would much rather see them and reassure you that they are probably going to live rather than have you stay at home and miss something potentially serious. My personal favourite case that I saw during my stint working in A&E was a young boy (maybe about 5ish) who had sustained an injury whilst attempting “an advanced Spiderman manoeuvre” (his own words)- that did amuse me. It’s fair to say, however, that no Spiderman wannabe would have been daft enough to attempt the bath time acrobatics that Henry has just done.

My husband starts preparing to take Henry to A&E and my guilt becomes more profound as I become more and more aware that my husband is going to be highly stressed and anxious about taking Henry to hospital in the midst of a pandemic, from which I am supposed to be shielding. Furthermore, James is supposed to be starting a nightshift in Dewsbury at 11pm tonight and now he knows he isn’t going to make it on time, if at all. He heads out soon after this, he and Henry both wearing some personal protective equipment (see below). In the meantime I try and get some rest, as I know it is more than likely that Henry will be discharged after being observed for a few hours, and that I’ll need to check on him several times during the night to ensure he continues to be ok. Of course, Edward is asleep, blissfully unaware that anything out of the ordinary is going on, and so he will wake up at the usual time in the morning (7ish). Therefore, I need to be prepared to function on little sleep (not that I don’t do this ALL THE TIME anyway, but you know what I mean).

Henry in his PPE

My husband phones and gives me regular updates on what has been happening at the hospital. The only thing I can really say to try and lighten the mood is that at least I have got him out of doing a full night shift. My bubble is quickly burst, however, when he confirms that he would much rather be at work than in A&E with our son. Luckily, as we expected, they think Henry will be fine- he may just have a bit of a concussion, but they are hoping to discharge him after a few hours of observation in the department.

A few hours later, my husband arrives home with Henry and confirms that I need to check on him regularly during the night to make sure everything is going to plan. Henry seems to be totally unfazed by the whole experience, and is just delighted that the doctor told him “no more jumping in the bath” because he is obsessed with a song in which a doctor tells a group of monkeys “no more jumping on the bed.” This is one of his favourite songs (along with Ba Ba Black Sheep and Old MacDonald, of course) and so he is loving the fact that he has been chastised by a real life doctor for acting in the same way as the naughty monkeys. Whenever I sing this song with him, I always say “you know mummy and daddy are both doctors?” and he usually says “no you aren’t the doctor!” to which I reply, “no really, I am.” This generally leads to him looking up at me, perplexed as heck.

None of us have yet eaten thanks to the drama of the evening and so we decide to order a pizza before James heads to Dewsbury to work the rest of his nightshift. He anticipates setting off at around midnight, and so he won’t be drastically late after all. Whilst waiting for the pizza to arrive, Henry joins me in my room and is thoroughly enjoying sitting in the “big bed” and watching The Three Little Pigs on repeat (this is the one and only time that I let him do this without getting thoroughly fed up and demanding we watch something else in a bid to save the final shred of my sanity). The pizza arrives about 30 minutes later, and Henry says “look! pie!” before polishing off a few slices and then cooperatively settling in his room. I check on him every few hours throughout the night and luckily he’s ok.

Henry in the “big bed” watching The Three Little Pigs on repeat

The following morning, I nervously enter the kids’ room and try to rouse Henry. He wakes up and immediately begins asking for Ba Ba Black Sheep and Old MacDonald and so I am confident he is going to be ok. My tolerance for endless nursery rhymes has disappeared this morning, however. I too have made a full recovery from the brief period of madness I experienced last night, which saw me put up with the same darned nursery rhymes over and over again.

Henry the morning after the head injury

Last night was James’s last shift for a few days and so he has a couple of days at home with the rest of us. Nanny recently brought some giant bubble kits round for the boys to play with and it is quickly apparent that they are fascinated by bubbles. They cannot get enough of them, in fact, and after about 30 minutes of endless bubble blowing, James and I are thoroughly fed up. We subsequently hatch an ingenious plan when the kids are having their afternoon nap and we purchase an electronic bubble machine from Amazon. We are so pleased with ourselves, as we feel we have discovered yet another “parenting hack” which will see the boys mesmerised for long periods of time by bubbles being produced from a machine, whilst we are free to do something we need to get done in the meantime. We high-five and congratulate each other on our magnificent idea.

The bubble machine arrives the following day, and as anticipated, it is a huge hit with the boys. We are very smug about this until I go upstairs to my room a little while later in order to fetch something and I notice that none of the electrical appliances in my room are functioning. Assuming it is something specifically wrong with the upstairs electrics, I head downstairs to seek James’s help with the matter. However, I soon cotton on to the fact that there is exactly the same issue downstairs. “It must be the trip switch!” I declare triumphantly, feeling briefly extremely clever (I do not usually have the first clue about electrics, machinery, plumbing or anything remotely “masculine.” Look, I take my womanly duties very seriously and I can cook, bake and sew- we can’t be good at everything).

It turns out I have correctly diagnosed a technical household issue for the first time in my life, and it is the trip switch that is the problem. James and I sort this out together. He stands on a breakfast stool and passes several of my heavy cook books to me so as to reveal the fuse board behind them and eventually manages to flip the switch back on again. Luckily, the electrics ping back on, but it soon becomes apparent that every single device that utilises WiFi in the household (and this is a heck of a lot- the smart TV, the several Amazon Alexas, the laptops, mobile phones, kindles etc) has forgotten the network. We subsequently have to go through each device and pair it with the WiFi (which has a long and ridiculous password consisting of totally random letters in various cases that are an utter pain in the arse to type. It’s also impossible to remember and so I have to trawl through my picture library on my iPhone repeatedly in order to find the picture I took of the small piece of paper displaying said password when we first set it up a few years ago). I genuinely think my husband is going to cry out of exasperation during the “WiFi reconnection saga.” We later discover that the aforementioned bubble machine was the culprit- the plug got wet and this is why it blew the trip switch. So much for our “ingenious” plan. Alas, it is back to blowing bubbles the old fashioned way for the foreseeable future.

After a few days at home, James is back to work again. One day during his latest stretch of shifts, I am feeling a bit lonely again, but I know I have to soldier on and do my best for the sake of the boys, if no one else. That morning, I empty the diaper bin and take it to the large bin outside. One of the diapers contains a large sh*t explosion (most likely courtesy of Edward “The Poonami King” Burnett) and this has become smeared all over the inside of the bag. There is a chap smoking outside the apartments opposite our house and he looks utterly disgusted as he sees me hurl the bag of sh*t into the outside wheelie bin with a large backswing.

Feeling deflated, I head back into the house and have a look through Instagram to see what everyone is up to. I notice that my friend Lara has just got a takeout coffee and I reply to her stories saying how good it looks and how much I miss real coffees. Later on, she shows up at my door and presents me with my very own latte. This really brightens my mood and makes me feel very grateful once again that I have great friends who care enough to do nice things like this. The coffee tastes great and genuinely feels like I should imagine a high from heroin does. Later on, I receive a special delivery of cake from another friend. It seems the universe sent everyone a memo to send me sweet caffeinated goods today and so I direct a little “thank you” up towards the ceiling to show my gratitude that this has happened and made me feel a lot more cheerful.

A little while later, I receive a message from my husband who is of course at work. I forget he is able to see activity at the front door via the Ring Doorbell and he is texting me in order to tell me off for getting too close to Nanny (less than 2 metres) when she comes to drop some things off. I feel profoundly cheesed off that he has spied on me and so, in protest, I put a layer of masking tape over the camera so he can no longer see anything. I have an evil laugh to myself. He then makes me feel very guilty that night when he comes home and reminds me that he is only being like that because he cares about my safety.

The boys are only 1 & 2, but already they have a special relationship and it is so sweet watching this develop more and more during lockdown. They seem to speak in a code that only they understand- perhaps this is a sort of primitive version of “boy code.” They walk round the garden holding hands and we often go outside and discover them sat together eating apples. Henry also speaks up for both of them (as Edward only has a few words at the moment and so can’t really communicate his needs effectively using words). He frequently comes and says “we would like an ice lolly now” or “we would like more biscuits now” and he always ensures his brother aka “BaBa” gets the same as he does. If I seem to miss “BaBa” out when I give Henry anything, he always tells me “BaBa would like a drink too” or “Ba Ba would like a biscuit too” etc. I hope this protective nature continues, as it is lovely to see.

In early June, James and I celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary. As a present, James gets me a kit to use in order to participate in a Friday night cook-a-long with celebrity chef Michael O’Hare. Michael O’Hare owns a Michelin starred restaurant in Leeds called “The Man Behind the Curtain” and he is probably most famous for judging on the TV show The Great British Menu. His restaurant has had to close during lockdown, and so he’s been selling ingredients kits and broadcasting a live cook-a-long on Instagram every weekend during which he demonstrates how to prepare fancy dishes. As it happens, Michael O’Hare’s kid attends the same nursery as Henry and Edward. My mum once spotted him in the carpark and gave me a dig in the ribs and asked “who is that bloke? I’m sure I recognise him from somewhere. He looks like some sort of rockstar.” I replied that I had absolutely no idea who he was or whether he was famous or not, but that I really liked his car (it is a Bentley, if my memory serves me correctly). A few weeks later, we found out that he was celebrity chef Michael O’Hare and we all had a good giggle about how nerve wracking it must be for the nursery chef to send out the weekly nursery menu to him. I imagine it must be similar to how I would feel if I had to anaesthetise the president of The Royal College of Anaesthetists.

The cook-a-long meal this week is jerk lobster. My husband jokes that he’s sure “this disaster will end up on your blog”. I retaliate with “don’t be ridiculous, I’m a good cook- this meal won’t just be good, it will be bloody marvellous!” We have set out all the ingredients from the pre-made bags and are sipping some celebratory champagne when it is time to start watching Michael O’Hare on Instagram Live.

Michael O’Hare begins his Instagram Live on his sun-drenched penthouse balcony, sipping margaritas and wearing some expensive-looking reflective sunglasses. Once more people have joined the live stream, he goes into his kitchen and begins instructing the cook-a-long. Of course, he makes it look as easy as “1, 2, 3.”

Meanwhile, in my kitchen, I have had to switch off the music that we were playing because I have discovered that I am now too old to think straight whilst listening to gangster rap music (back in my student days I seemed to be able to do both). The first task is to extract meat from a fully intact cooked lobster, which is not all that easy, I hasten to add. During this process, which involves cracking and crushing a lot of very hard lobster shell, my husband gets a fragment of shell stuck in his finger. Although, he seems to think he’s managed to get this out shortly after the incident, the following day there is an obvious hard lump underneath the skin on his index finger and so I have to attempt to dig this out with a sterilised needle.

By the end of the live stream, I am, quite frankly, pleasantly surprised that we have managed to make a decent-looking meal, since all through the demonstration the kids were yelling repeatedly over the baby monitor “MUMMY!” and “I NEED THE TOILET!” The stress of trying to keep up with the cook-a-long whilst having to stop to manage my husband’s minor injury and tend intermittently to the toddlers has driven both James and I to drink and so by the end of the meal, we are both slightly tipsy. As a result, we decide to sign up for next week’s cook-a-long too! This is going to consist of halibut for the main course with a raspberry souffle for dessert. Despite the usual distractions courtesy of the toddlers, this turns out very nicely and I am especially pleased with the souffle as I know they are notoriously difficult to cook well and it tastes really good.

Whilst we are on the subject of food, it seems apt to mention that meal times in our house remain largely a disaster. They mostly consist of both kids throwing food around the kitchen, much like the Lost Boys do during the “Bangarang” food fight in Hook. Edward also has a (very annoying) habit of putting his bowls on his head and saying “hat!” before he has finished eating the contents. This has resulted in me having to rinse a variety of foodstuffs from his hair at bath time. On one particular occasion, I have to intercept before he inverts a dish of chicken teriyaki stir fry over his head. I do not especially fancy trying to wash asiatic flavourings from his hair later on.

Aside from the usual toddler-induced disarray, I have found that cooking and feeding the kids, then getting them bathed and in bed, then clearing up after them, then preparing mine and James’s meals and then cooking and eating is leaving me exhausted every night. It is just relentless and there is little or no time for winding down. Therefore, we decide to try a new routine. We agree that we will aim to eat together as a family at about 6pm, and will then bath and bed the boys once we’ve all eaten. This will hopefully allow us to have a little bit of “chill time” after sorting the kids each night. We are also hoping that eating what we eat will encourage the kids to try a wider variety of dishes.

On one particular evening, Singapore style chicken udon noddles are on the menu. Now, it is quite commonly suggested that you should follow your instincts as they often turn out to be correct. However, when it crosses my mind earlier in the afternoon that perhaps this dish may be a bit too hot for the kids, James reminds me that Henry seems to be quite fond of spicy foods and Edward eats anything, regardless of whether it is edible or not. Therefore, we decide to risk it. Needless to say, as my instincts suggested, it is a total disaster. It seems that the combination of garlic, lemongrass, star anise, bird’s eye chillies, ginger, coriander, onion, curry powder, turmeric and basil is too overpowering for a 1 and a 2 year old (yes, I can hear you all saying “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!” loud and clear now that I am sat here writing this with the benefit of hindsight). They cry, drool and attempt to manually evacuate their mouths to get rid of the taste and sensation of this firey dish. In the heat of the moment (no pun intended) Henry spills some of the sauce down his front and the vivid yellow colour of the dish (courtesy of the turmeric) leaves him looking like a jaundiced, radioactive toddler who is preparing to audition for The Simpsons. The initial shock is followed by approximately 30 minutes of relentless crying, with intermittent wails of “I want another food!” from Henry. However, even desperate suggestions of biscuits, cake and chocolate made by myself and James in our panicked state get turned down because the kids are so traumatised. Eventually, we succeed in getting both kids to eat a slice of toast before we bath them and put them to bed. Whilst we are bathing them, James and I make a pact to “get absolutely trashed” once they are asleep in order to let off some steam after this harrowing experience. It is safe to say that the kids drove us totally nuts today. Sometimes you are simply forced to resort to drink, and there is no shame in admitting that.

Whereas the kids are clearly very sensitive to the spices, James’s senses of taste and smell have virtually been absent since he had Covid-19 back at the end of April (this loss of taste and smell a.k.a “anosmia” is now recognised as a cardinal symptom of the virus as so many people reported having experienced it after testing positive). One evening, we decide to test just how bad this is by going through the spice rack, seeing if he can smell or tase any of the items. I realise he is not exaggerating his anosmia when he eats an entire bird’s eye chilli without even flinching. When I attempt to do the same, I end up breathing more fire than all three of Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons put together. After laughing at me almost spontaneously combusting after eating the chilli, he enthusiastically sniffs some Chinese five spice, but alas, he still cannot smell a thing.

The spice rack. With a variety of spices to test one’s sense of smell.

The following morning, I have signed up to a remote teaching session on paediatric pain management in anaesthesia. The teaching session is to be carried out via Zoom so as to comply with the current social distancing requirements. My husband also has a Zoom meeting today for his GP training and so I need to have mine playing in the background whilst I try to police the kids. The session starts relatively early, and as a result of things not going quite to plan (as they often don’t), by the time it does begin, I’ve managed to get the kids downstairs and dressed and fed, but I remain in my pyjamas and dressing gown with unbrushed, crazy hair. This will be fine though I think to myself- sometimes you can’t have it both ways and I will accept that I look like a total train wreck and will shower later on once my teaching is over. It won’t matter, because I’m only tuned into the audio, not the video, and so no one will have to endure the terrifying sight of my current appearance anyway. Henry continuously asks me to play Ba Ba Black Sheep on my laptop, but I break the bad news that he will simply have to tolerate “Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in Paediatrics” for the time being. Unsurprisingly, he looks at me, utterly dumbfounded and simply repeats “Ba Ba Black Sheep, please.”

Much to my dismay, a few hours into the teaching, the facilitators request that we conduct an “experiment” to see whether the system is able to cope with everyone tuned in to both audio and video. I am forced to rapidly come up with a barrage of excuses as to why I am unable to turn the video on so as to avoid my colleagues witnessing me looking so dishevelled that they may begin to question whether or not I have accidentally shoved my finger into a high voltage electrical socket causing my hair to go utterly mental. I pretend that the kids are being “immensely disruptive” and so I cannot possibly turn my video on for fear of distracting everyone else. Of course, the boys are being good as gold on this occasion, but sometimes you just have to lie and blame them to cover your back. After all, they are unable to answer back or defend themselves at this stage and so it is a win-win situation.

How I actually looked during my Zoom teaching and why I refused to turn my video on

During this traumatic day, I have not only narrowly dodged a substantial number of my colleagues seeing what a disaster I look when not ready, but I have also accidentally poked Edward in the eye and almost choked him with milk whilst putting him down for his afternoon nap (I didn’t realise that the one way valve in his “no spill” sippy cup was off, causing milk to be poured down his throat at an alarming rate when I shoved the mouthpiece in his mouth in a bid to “soothe” him to sleep). I’ve had to stop giving him bottles and have replaced them with a sippy cup because he chews the bottle top off (you will recall me having mentioned that he eats literally everything, including stuff that is not edible) and I am not willing to risk him accidentally swallowing the thing whilst in a reclined position and thus choking to death on it whilst I am downstairs, attempting to get some much needed “me time.”

Unsurprisingly, after all this drama, I fall asleep on the sofa in the early evening. This time, I am woken up about 30 minutes later by Henry attempting to smother me with a pillow. When I’ve come to and realised what is going on, I reassure myself that since he is only 2 years old, he is highly unlikely to have grasped the concept of homicide just yet, and therefore I put this incident down to an “innocent case of him trying to get my attention using the most effective means available to him at the time.” I shrug it off and close my eyes for a second time, only to be woken mere minutes later by Edward trying to shove his half-drunk bottle of milk in my mouth (obviously he has seen an opportunity for revenge and he feels that I too need to see what it is like to be choked by milk whilst trying to catch forty winks). Once the boys realise that their attempts at rousing me have failed, they resort to more traditional methods such as jumping on me, pulling my hair and yelling “MUMMY! WAKE UP!” repeatedly. At one point Edward is jumping up and down on my chest, performing what seems to be some alternative form of CPR (whereby you use your entire body weight to press on the victim’s chest, rather than just your hands). Whereas I despise my alarm clock, I prefer it to these alternative wake-up methods any day.

Henry has got an Amazon Fire for kids, which we occasionally allow him to use to watch programmes on. This is usually when we are unable to tolerate any more kids’ TV shows on the main TV and so we let him watch what he wants on the Fire whilst we put something else on the big screen. Recently, Edward has started to show an interest in the Kindle too, and usually presses the screen, accidentally changing the programme, much to Henry’s annoyance. In a bid to stop his little brother from tampering with his kindle, Henry fashions himself a fort using all of the cushions he is able to find in the lounge. Whereas I know I should be encouraging them to share etc, I cannot help but sympathise with the poor kid. Edward fiddling with the kindle would really cheese me off too and I can’t help but admire Henry’s initiative in building this fort. Plus today he is watching Peppa Pig, and I absolutely despise this programme. Therefore, I am grateful that the intolerable show is now muffled thanks to the thickness of the walls of cushion used to assemble Henry’s fort.

In other news, things are beginning to improve on the shielding front. In early June I am allowed to go out once a day to take exercise, although I should only be doing so with members of my own household. James has a decent stretch of leave shortly after this welcome announcement, and so we take advantage of time as a family and make the effort to go walking most days with the kids. Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper English summer without a few rainy days here and there and so on a few occasions we have to dress in coats and appropriate footwear in order to brave the conditions.

Edward has never worn wellies before and so on the first rainy walk day, we dress him in a hooded coat, which makes him look a bit like Kenny from South Park, and his brand new, never worn before wellies. When he tries to walk in his wellies for the first time, the feeling of this footwear is obviously so alien to him that he looks as though he has sh*t himself whilst in the process of trying to wade his way out of quicksand. I can’t help myself, and dissolve into uncontrollable laughter at this sight, whilst James rebukes me in the background for laughing at the expense of our 1 year old. After a few attempts, Edward gets the hang of his new boots, and his gait is no longer quite as hilarious as it was when he first tried them.

When we arrive back from the rainy walk, the boys go outside to play in the garden (still in their coats and wellies of course). I offer them both a toasted teacake, and they take these outside with them. A little while later, I catch Henry hiding beside a bush, straining and making funny faces. This usually means one thing- he needs a sh*t but is trying to hold it in (you may recall he hates opening his bowels as I explained in an earlier post). I shout over to him “Hezzie (this is his nickname) do you need the toilet?” Just as Henry goes to answer, and undoubtedly deny the fact that he probably has a turtle head poking out of his arse at this point, Siri on my apple watch suddenly chimes in with “I don’t have an answer for that, is there anything else I can help with?” Apparently “Hezzie” and “Hey, Siri” sound remarkably similar and so it is perfectly understandable that Siri mistakenly thought that I was asking him if he needed the toilet. I have a little snigger to myself, which is swiftly interrupted by Edward presenting me with his, now moss and soil covered, teacake. “I just love toddlers” I say sarcastically to myself whilst trying not to vomit.

Edward presents me with a moss and soil covered tea cake

Once the boys have gone down for their afternoon nap, I go downstairs and start to tidy what seems like the 1000th mess of the day. I hear my phone vibrate, and see that it is a message from a work Wattsapp group. We use this group to discuss a variety of things, from academic issues to exam tips to ridiculous jokes. Somehow, the topic of conversation today has lead to kids’ TV shows. I chip in with how much I hate Peppa Pig, but sadly my eldest is obsessed with it and so I am forced to endure it on a regular basis. One of my colleagues then comes back and says “my wife has banned the kids from watching Peppa Pig. She feels it sets a bad example because Peppa is always disobeying her parents.” A sudden feeling of elation sweeps over me as the penny drops that thanks to this excellent observation, I will never again have to endure that wretched pig. I reply with “please pass on my sincerest thanks to your wife.” I then happily return to tidying, not feeling exasperated about the mess any longer on account of the excellent news I have just heard. It is at times like this that I am so grateful for all my other mum friends!

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