“There is a pear in the blue bowl for you to take for fruit time on your kindy trip to the Zoo today,” I told my four year old son. “Just get it and wait beside the car for me while I change your baby sister.” Ken’s big solemn eyes looked up at me, his head nodding, as I picked up the screaming baby and clutched her to my shoulder, again.
The night had seemed endless. A sick, croupy baby in the middle of a bitterly cold Adelaide Hills winter was no laughing matter and Dr Spock’s advice seemed useless in the solitary, wee small hours. Susie and I had sat in the steamy bathroom, with the hot shower running, for most of the night and our heads were covered with tiny tight corkscrew curls by the early morning. My husband had snored throughout our respiratory crisis and seemed amazed that I was haggard and exhausted once the weak wintry sun struggled to appear that day.
“I’m in court this morning and have to be in the office at 7.30.You’ll have to manage the kids by yourself,” said the family breadwinner, as he dived for the bathroom before racing out of the door with a piece of toast in his hand. The morning routine of feeding the children their breakfast did not get off to a good start as Susie knocked her Weetbix cereal on to the floor, covering the floor with a brown sludgy mess of cereal and warm milk that rapidly set like concrete.
Children have an uncanny sense of their mother’s limits at times of stress and both children stretched mine that morning. Ken fussed over his choice of clothes, debated whether these shoes were better than those boots and shrieked when I tried to comb his curls into place. Brushing his teeth seemed an enormous chore, to be dawdled over, and I was close to screaming pitch by this stage.
“Watch your sister while I get dressed,” I instructed, realising that I’d need to find time later in the morning for the luxury of a shower. Susie’s bath was also put on to the ‘do later’ list as I struggled to get the antibiotics into her unyielding rosebud mouth, before racing to her room to get her dressed.
Rugged up in a navy corduroy pinafore and thick tights, I struggled to squeeze the baby’s tiny fists into the warm parka she’d need to cope with the below zero temperature outside. We were still running on time and I thought that we would be at Kindy at 9am, until I lifted the infant and she exploded with a stream of regurgitated Weetbix all over my pristine navy outfit.
“Oh, no”, I thought frantically, “how can half a Weetbix go so far?” There was nothing to do but to calm down, take a big deep breath and start all over again, one step at a time. First step, strip the sodden smelly baby and wash her again, before redressing her. Second step, strip the sodden smelly mother and repeat the process. I glanced at the big hand of the clock, moving relentlessly towards 9am when the bus, full of excited kindergarten children, was due to leave for the Zoo.
Clutching the baby to my chest, I locked the back door and headed to the car, where Ken stood, sobbing. I bent down to his tear filled face and asked what his problem was? “I dropped my pear,” he wailed, “and Jasper bit it and ran off under the tree”. I glanced at the Irish setter under the blue spruce tree, who was munching into the juicy yellow pear and licking his lips. “Oh, Ken,” I snapped, “that was the last piece of fruit we had in the house. Do you think that pears grow on trees around here?” Lifting his little face, his huge eyes locked on to mine, and he replied, in a serious voice, “Don’t they, Mummy?”
His innocent question pulled me up short. Why was I breaking my neck to rush this morning? Did it really matter if there was one piece of fruit less for the Zoo excursion? Surely the bus wouldn't leave until all of the children were present? As I strapped the small children into their safety seats in the back seat of the car, I laughed to myself at the thought of the wicked wolfish look on the dog’s face as he slurped into the juicy pear. “Who ever heard of an Irish setter eating a pear?” I chortled aloud as both children’s faces wreathed with smiles and we all giggled at the very idea as we calmly drove to the kindergarten.
Order and sanity were restored!
How can half a Weetbix go so far? That has to be a line I'll remember forever Annie. What a great story!! I'm happy I'm a Dad but ashamed that I didn't realize until later how much goes into being a Mom!!!
The morning routine in any household is a busy one, Tom, but with small children, lack of sleep, the pressure of a 9am bus trip - it took very little for my morning to go awry. The sight of that Irish setter slurping his way into a ripe and juicy pear just brought on an attack of giggles for all three of us. If you'd given a pear to Jasper, he wouldn't normally touch it; but biting it out of Ken's little hand turned it into a delicious prize to be savoured! The incident still makes me laugh!
You are a wonderful story teller. I enjoy reading what you write. I can relate all too well to this experience.
Thanks, Ellen, I think any mother will identify with my feeling of exhaustion, stress and a ticking clock! I'm so thankful that my sense of humour brought me back to earth and I could see the funny side of the situation. Good luck with preserving your own life stories.