As a family of five we create quite a large amount of washing. So it is natural that we have numerous laundry receptacles around the home.
Yet it never fails to astound me quite how full these bins get. I can empty one into the washing machine, right down to the last sock, and by evening it will be overflowing again.
That’s not the biggest mystery, however, the biggest mystery surely has to be – how does this happen despite no one seeming to know where the laundry bins are located!
Walk into any of the bedrooms and you will be greeted by drifts of unwashed clothes. In some cases mixed up with clean clothes that have not yet been put away (this does account for some of the discrepancy).
Scattered liberally around the living room are socks, and sometimes other items of clothing.
But worst of all, is the pile. The Pile.
The pile of dirty clothes next to the laundry bin. Not in it. Next to it. As though the fact it says “Laundry” on the side isn’t a big enough hint. Nope. The pants, socks, sweaty shorts and sticky skirts lie in abandoned heaps almost, but not quite, in their intended location. Given the amount of clothes that don’t make it that far I’m beginning to wonder if we’ve got an extra house guest I need to account for.
…when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?
Sherlock Holmes in “The Sign of Four” by Arthur Conan Doyle
That must be it then. A whole extra person must be hiding somewhere. It would certainly explain an awful lot about where all the food goes as well.
I get back from collecting the girls from school to find clothes, books, shoes and school bags strewn across the hall floor. At first I wonder if we’ve been burgled. Or if a bird has got into the house, or perhaps next-door’s cat. But this small mystery is solved by the cheery shout of “Hello” that emanates from Eldest’s room.
It’s not as though we don’t possess storage for all of these items. Not only do we have four separate banks of coat hooks (two at child height, two for adults), we also possess a shoe rack that would make Imelda Marcos ask for details.
I call Eldest through to do basic tasks such as hanging up his coat, putting his shoes on the aforementioned shoe rack and putting his PE kit into the utility room so it will actually get washed, instead of festering over the weekend until it’s too late to get it washed and dried before it is needed again.
Meanwhile, his sisters have also shrugged off their bags which, along with their coats now appear to carpet the floor. They have opted to avoid taking off shoes until they have gone into the living room, meaning at least one will become lost and will only be found under the sofa at 3 minutes after the latest time we need to leave for school tomorrow.
I call them back to the hall to hang their coats properly and check their bags for letters, mouldy snacks, dirty water bottles and similar. I go into the kitchen and turn on the kettle. A child rushes through leaving a screwed up ball of paper on the table. It is a request for money so class 2 can meet an author sometime next week, leading me to deduce that it was Youngest that came in.
I go back into the hall to hang up my own coat and swap my shoes for slippers. The kids also have slippers but they spend more time lost than on feet. The coats are back on the floor, but in a different pattern. I come to conclusion we must have exceptionally slippery hooks. Or that perhaps they are carefully rigged so that when a coat is placed on them they tip all coats onto the floor like a trap in Indiana Jones. Who knows?
I decide it is easier to put the coats on the hook myself.
Yesterday was Mothering Sunday in the UK. Yesterday was also the day the clocks changed. I’m not the first to mention the incredibly poor timing, but both events are predicated on other events and it was just bad luck they happened to coincide so there’s no point crying over split milk. Even if you know that no one will think to wipe it up until you point them in the direction of the wipes.
What this means is that parent’s all over the country were robbed on their Sunday lie-ins by fate. Mothers, who look forward to Not Having To Get Breakfast, were not only woken early by excited offspring – they were awoken super-early by clock-shifted excited offspring thrusting cold tea (usually because the kettle is out of bounds, although in my case it was cold coffee because it had been drowned in cold milk) and slopping breakfast cereal over the duvet.
Whilst you don’t have to enter the kitchen and prepare breakfast on Mother’s Day, you do end up eating with an eager audience who are just dying to press homemade (or school-made) cards dripping in glitter and interesting “sculpture” into your hands in recognition of a job well done.
“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so”
Ford Prefect in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams
The other huge headache facing mums, well me, was the family’s inability to agree on whether or not they were hungry. I actually did get a lie-in, mainly due to simply ignoring everyone until they came to find me, so breakfast was taken at quite a late hour, even accounting for the clock change. However, by lunchtime, Youngest was complaining of hunger pangs at 12:30, which is a tad early if you consider when it would have been the day before, but I suppose she hadn’t had a snack and I have no idea what she ate for breakfast as she got it herself. Eldest didn’t mention being hungry until much later and actually had his lunch at about 3pm, by which time he was rather hangry.
On the other hand it did mean that come tea-time at the late-for-us hour of 6pm, the obligatory Mother’s Day Takeaway so Mum Doesn’t Need to Cook (ignoring the fact that no one will tidy up afterwards and that’s as much bother as cooking something like pasta or baked potatoes) was more than adequate and I have leftovers to look forward to for lunch.
My purse is empty. Well that’s not strictly speaking true. There’s half-a-tree’s worth of receipts, a similar quantity of money off coupons (most of which will turn out to be either out of date or for products I have not the slightest intention of buying), far too many coffee shop loyalty cards (with only one stamp on the, some duplicated) and some plastic.
What it does not contain is cash. Not a note or a coin worth more than 5p (although there are several of them meaning I may have as much as 43p to my name).
I carefully empty out everything onto the kitchen table in the forlorn hope there may be a note or two stuck between the folds of a receipt or perhaps some coins have migrated into the lining.
Nothing. Nada. Nichts zu sehen.
How can this be? Have I been robbed? Has someone crept into my home, carefully selected my purse, removed all the decent dosh (ignoring the credit and debit cards) and carefully replaced it so I remain blissfully unaware of the event?
Sadly I fear I have to accept that I have simply spent all the money since the last time I ventured to a cash machine two days ago.
I have sent into school £7 for each of two children so they can buy a book from the booksale, the commission on which is about the only way the school can afford new books under the current funding arrangements.
I have also in the same week sent in £2 each for two children so they can buy a Mother’s Day gift from the PTA. I shall probably be manning the stall and will need to complete the transaction without observing what they have purchased.
Then there was parking for taking them to activities. Plus a Subway tea because quite frankly I would rather shell out than spend 45 minutes in a car with a rabidly hangry child (not a typo – Google it), let alone her sister who is more likely to be travel sick with an empty stomach. (Great design feature there).
And quite probably too many visits to coffee shops. And grabbing one or two or twelve forgotten items from the Tesco on the way home from school.
There are two biscuits left on the plate (the photo is for illustrative purposes because I no longer have a plate of biscuits to photograph (Note to self: plan blog posts better)). Tesco’s Finest Triple Chocolate Shortbread, or so I am assured by the packaging. Much effort has gone into creating a biscuit that is tasty. Countless variations of the recipe must have been baked to ensure perfection every time a batch rolls off the production line. I briefly wonder what coffee time must be like in the Tesco research kitchen. Are there piles of weird and wonderful cookies just waiting to be dunked into the latest “Special Blend” of coffee? Do they get sick and tired of mince pies in March and Easter Eggs in October?
But back to the issue at hand. There are two biscuits on the plate. There is one biscuit in the hand of the fastest child to the table. Eldest is standing there, biscuit raised, ready to chomp into it.
“I wanted that one!” yells Youngest. The biscuits are indistinguishable. Mr Tesco is very particular that every biscuit is created identically, and packages them with care. Yet this particular biscuit is clearly superior to all other biscuits. Probably because it is in the hand of her brother.
“You can choose one of the other two” I volunteer.
“But I wanted that one!”
I still haven’t got the hang of these negotiations. “Why?” will probably elicit screeching. “They’re all the same” will probably elicit screeching.
I settle on “There’s two left. Choose one of those or don’t have one”. Screeching ensues but is cut short by the arrival of Middle and the possibility of losing all chance of choosing.
“That one’s broken” she announces. My eyes audibly roll. I look at the plate. A chocolate chunk has fallen out, causing approximately 1/100th of the biscuit to crumble onto the plate. Some of the crumbs probably come from her sister’s biscuit.
“If you don’t want it…” I start. She know’s what’s coming. There’s a good chance that’s the last biscuit in the house too. I try not to buy them as I’m far too prone to eating them.
Huffily, she swipes the entire plate away and retreats to her corner seat. Where she proceeds to pick out every single chocolate chunk, quickly turning the biscuit into two piles – chocolate chunks and biscuit crumbs – which she proceeds to sweep into her mouth and all over the table and floor (not the chocolate though, that is very carefully transferred piece by piece as though it were a rare delicacy).
I sigh and accidentally-on-purpose find an extra biscuit at the bottom of the packet which I carefully hide for later.
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.
Children are strange, mysterious and beautiful creatures and in this blog I’m going to address some of their more mysterious ways. I’m going to attempt to answer questions such as “Why does it always have to be Mummy?”, “Why can they not find the laundry basket and instead leave socks at random locations around the house?” or “What’s wrong with that biscuit?”.
I’m a mother of three, two girls and a boy, and I’d love to hear about your mysteries so don’t hesitate to comment. Until next time…