I stumble down the stairs two hours late after a troublesome night with the boys. I am unable to calculate which is better, consecutive or simultaneous periods of nocturnal wanderings? On a Sunday morning I prepare myself mentally to cook pancakes for the masses and practice our weekly knife skills. At the foot of the stairs I note peace and quiet, aurally. Visually I note that everyone is wired into electronic devices at 7:30 in the morning, no-one is dressed. Nonna, wireless and without her hearing aid, beams in my direction as she sits next to her son at the dining room table. “Good morning Maddy. How nice to have a lie in.” I plop on the chair next to them as her son’s attention remains glued to the lap top screen. “Aren’t you so lucky to ave im as a husband?” I look at unshaven, disheveled Mr. Lucky. There are many ways to describe our relationship but ‘lucky’ doesn’t even come close right now.
I heave out of my chair to go and greet everyone individually. Each individual is unable to break their attention from their current occupation, so I leave them in peace and trundle to the kitchen. Hot air pumps out from every vent to counteract the chill open window in Nonna’s room. En route to the kitchen I find many, many empty containers of single serving cereal packets, a holiday treat and gift from one of our overly generous neighbours. I stand with armfuls, far more than six, as Nonna brightens, “dey are very nice doz, I ad some of dem for a change.” Her son awakens at the same time, “yes by the time I got down here they’d already had breakfast. Quite lucky really, so I didn’t have to try and cook.” How frightfully trying indeed. Now I have missed the only opportunity to get one weekly egg into each of my children. I acknowledge to myself privately, that I am now officially in a foul mood.
The trouble with skipping an hour is that during my absence, nothing happens. A void appears in time which means that everything has to be shunted forward, concertina style. None of these people are capable of being hurried or harried.
An extreme but fictional example may clarify.
Just suppose that the time fairy visited to scoop away most of the day. At 2:50 in the afternoon, every one has either grazed continuously or stolen food. No-one is really hungry. However, as snack time approaches at three, a hue and cry emerges. Everyone demands breakfast, morning snack, lunch and afternoon snack, which must be in the right sequential order and resemble each definitive ‘meal.’ None of them can be skipped over.
Sensible people might suggest that my compliance is foolish, and I would tend to agree. However, at the current stage of development we are unable to gloss over this hurdle. To deny designated ‘meals’ is tantamount to parental neglect, aligned and associated with starvation, regardless of bulging tummies. The tears are real. Reasoning skills are subject to too much stress. There is nothing for it but to produce mini replicas of each, if sanity and calm is to be restored.
Nonna gives them the tip off, even though technically no-one is listening. “What number it is?”
“So we’ve ad Christmas den?”
“So now we are ave pancakes for breakfast!”
The words ‘pancakes, pancakes, pancakes,’ echo around the room from several unacknowledged parties.
Probably just as well really.
The relief, if not joy, of being saved from a concertina day.
7 hours ago