“What’s it like being on school holidays? I bet its pretty relaxing. What did you guys do today?” He says as walks in wearing his nice clean business attire, looking like he’s showered at least once today.
Relaxing. I wonder if he’s been paying attention.
I look around at the apocalyptic wasteland that was once our nice presentable home as I prepare a suitable response. Coffee supplies are low, wine has become a mealtime and sleep is a luxury for the weak. There may actually have been a small explosive device activated somewhere in the house. Over the endless days of the school holidays campaign I’ve given up on getting any meaningful work done and dropped the concept of tidying because the carnage of clothes, squishy food and random pieces of lego will only continue tomorrow. The cycle of mess is barely punctuated by bouts of sleep though I occasionally go through the motions of doing the dishwasher when I can muster the motivation.
My senses have become finely tuned with children in the house twenty four hours a day for two weeks. I’m oddly suspicious when they are quiet or happy and paranoid I keep smelling cheese somewhere. Between the constant use of my cranky voice during my peace keeping missions to separate two duelling children, the imminent safety concerns requiring a sharply spoken ‘No swords on the trampoline!’ and one minor freakout almost requiring a medic in which I yelped ‘Quick, help me get the popcorn out of her nose!’ my voice is all but hoarse. And it’s damn lucky we are in a climate where nudity doesn’t cause hypothermia or the cause would be lost.
And then there are the negotiations; the attempts at reasoning with the two small despots. You know, like trying to convince one that the laws of physics DO apply to her, that his sister’s head is NOT a hot wheels track, that the person on the swing ISN’T a piñata and that its not wise for EITHER of them to race a skateboard of questionable construction made with lego.
I’ve been guilty of a few strategic errors myself in my exhausted state. Once, the frenzied make believe of Romans vs Zombies got the better of me and I yelled ‘Don’t stab her, shoot her!” which only angered the soldiers more. Just moments after the swords on trampolines disaster, I sent the troops back out onto the there in order to get a few minutes rest and I didn’t pat them down for weapons on the way. And following the popcorn incident I turned my back for a split second only to turn back and see her eating the popcorn I had just removed. You can’t turn your back for a moment in these conditions.
I would be remiss if I didn’t give an honorouable mention to such philosophical dilemmas as ‘where ARE his pants?” and “If I turn my back to prepare their meal, will she drop my phone in the toilet again?”.
He asked again, probably thinking I’m in the midst of a relaxing reverie. “What did you do today?”
Knowing there is no way to explain to a mere civilian, it seems prudent to simply smile and respond as succinctly as possible.
“What did we do? We survived.”
I take solace in the small victory, knowing I will need to sustain the troops if we are to survive this long term. Christmas is but a term away, and the campaign will be longer and more drawn out.