I try to be a good parent, I really do.
SCENE: We are all in the kitchen. I am trying to start the chocolate custard for the Christmas trifle while Barns makes the kids’ afternoon tea. Nora and June (both 2) are tootling around underfoot.
Me: I’m not really feeling the Christmas spirit this year. It’s like I just don’t have room in my brain for it right now. (I absent-mindedly take an apricot from the fruit bowl and start snacking)
B: Weird. Maybe –
Nora: My want an apricot.
Me: You don’t like apricots, darling.
B: Do you want some in your afternoon tea?
Nora: MY WANT AN APRICOT. (I am already selecting an apricot for her)
B: You can have some in your afternoon tea.
Nora: MY NO WANT SOME. MY WANT A BIG ONE.
(I give her a whole apricot. She does not eat it)
June: My want an apricot.
Me: You don’t like apricots, darling. (I start looking for an apricot for her. All of the apricots on the top of the fruit bowl are still rock-hard. Of course they are.)
Nora: Open my apricot.
Me: Just wait one minute, please. (Rummaging in the fruit bowl, I accidentally stick my fingers into a rotten apricot)
Nora: Open it!
(I throw out the rotten apricot. June is horrified. She thought that one was going to be hers.)
June: WHERE MY APRICOT?!
Nora: OPEN IT!!
(B makes placating noises but, hands covered in egg, is frankly no use at all. I hastily wash my hands)
(I finally find June an apricot, pass it to her and then rip open Nora’s apricot. They are momentarily appeased.)
Me: (to Barnaby) I mean like, Christmas has always been really important to –
Nora: My no like it. Close it again.
Me: Um. I… I can’t, darling. That’s not how apricots work.
Nora: (doggedly proffering apricot) Mummy want to close it!
Me: Nora, my love, I can’t. You can’t close an apricot.
June: Waaaaaa – (takes a breath)
Nora: CLOSE IT!
June: – AAAH! (B and I stare at her helplessly, as we have absolutely no idea why she is upset)
Nora: MUMMY WANT TO CLOSE IT!
Me: (gabbling) I can’t, Lovey! I’m sorry! I just can’t! I’m so sorry!
June: WAAAAAAAAAH (furious incoherent wailing. Stamps round and round in a circle)
B: (tries to talk to June. Untranscribable. Nobody can hear him. This just makes her angrier, anyway. )
Nora: CLOSE IT CLOSE IT CLOSE IT (takes a deep breath)
Both children: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
Me: (Throws away all parenting goals and snatches apricots from children’s tiny hands while shouting) OH MY GOD, YOU’RE BOTH JUST HUNGRY!!! WHO WANTS A MUESLI BAR?
(Peace is instantly restored. B glances at the nutritious afternoon tea plates he has slaved over but wisely says nothing. We unwrap muesli bars)
Me: As I was saying, you know, Christmas, it’s like I just don’t have the room in my brain right –
Nora: My wanna open it myself. (The muesli bar wrapper – brace yourselves for this – is already open)