6 O’CLOCK

Oh that imminent sense of dread which starts creeping in late Sunday afternoon.

It was good while it lasted.

The weekend.

Ignoring the children on both Saturday and Sunday morning because this is YOUR day of rest and nothing or no one will get in the way of it, especially not some little psychopaths who wake up at six o’clock complaining they’re both cold (because the heating hasn’t knocked on because it’s still the MIDDLE OF THE FUCKING NIGHT!), and hungry (because they pissed about the previous night while eating their dinner and it ended up getting chucked as it was stone cold), about as cold as child number one’s hands are as he reaches over to touch my toasty warm duvet wrapped shoulder, violently shocking me into life.

‘Urgh, what the fu…Robin what’s the matter?’ I cry, and by cry I mean cry, tears and everything.  It’s happened again, I know it’s ridiculously early, just because the kids are pricks like that.  I also know that no matter how hard I try to ignore them and get at least another little smidgin of sleep, they will inevitably win and keep me conscience, they always do.

‘Mmmm-ungry dada,’ he smiles, ‘Nnnnn-cold,’ he says, wrapping his arms around his naked chest and buuuuuurrrrrrring.

Of course you’re hungry little boy, you refused to eat your macaroni cheese last night because the pasta wasn’t REAL pasta like spaghetti and was moving like maggots, this in turn forced me to be a REAL grown up and adopt the tough love attitude in telling you that if you weren’t going to eat a meal YOU LOVED LAST WEEK, then there would be no pudding and it’s bath and bed…and…fucking and…if you’re cold why the fuck did you take your pyjama top off?  You went to bed with it on, what happened?

‘Dad I’m ready,’ Sophie says, chirpy as hell as she cartwheels into the bedroom dressed in her school uniform, hair tied into pigtails, and then also touches my poor naked shoulder with her ice fingers.

I open an eye, reluctantly committing myself to reality.

‘Sophie it’s six o’clock in the morning, why are you ready for school?’

She shrugs and smiles, ‘Elsie’s crying because Robin said she was a poo face.’

‘I didn’t,’ Robin interjects, ‘Elsie hit me.’

‘She didn’t,’ Sophie cries out (no tears from this cry, just high pitched eight year oldness).  ‘Dad, Robin called her a fat head too.’

‘I didn’t,’ Robin whines and then puts his hands up to his eyes, sobbing.

‘I don’t care,’ I shout.  These bloody kids.  Every morning it’s the same, bickering and name calling and hitting and scratching and shouting and lying about having not done any of the above when one of the other little shits has a moment of self-righteousness and decides it’s time to involve the grown ups.

‘Sophie snitches get stitches, stop stirring it up otherwise I’ll rename you Big Wooden Spoon and you’ll be grounded until you’re fifty three.’

‘You won’t even be alive when I’m fifty three.’

‘Fingers crossed, Big Wooden Spoon.’

‘Ssssstop,’ she wines as Elsie’s wails start getting louder.

Oh God the third one is approaching now too.

‘Right, Robin stop crying when there is literally nothing to cry about, Big Wooden Spoon…’

‘Dad I mean it stop calling me that.’

‘Silence BWS, if I’m really unlucky I’ll live all the way until fifty three years old which means I have another twenty eight years of this shit so I will be heard.’

Sophie’s eyes widen and Robin starts to giggle.

‘Dad you can’t say S. H. I. T.  We’re children you know, you’re supposed to be a role model for us.’

‘And I will be, Spoon girl, at half past seven when my alarm goes off.  Right now we’re still in middle of the night territory and that belongs to me.  Come back at half seven and I’ll pretend to care about any made up problems you have, right now though leave, go and watch a film or make Robin and Elsie breakfast or fight…yes, fight with each other until your hearts are content, just do it in the living room where I won’t hear you for an hour and half.’

‘Mmmm-ungry.’

‘Robert is it morning,’ Elsie says as she walks into the room, completing the trio of life sappers.

Hang on a minute.  Not ten seconds ago it sounded like she had just had her arm amputated and now cheerful smiles.

‘I thought you were crying?’ I ask the youngest.

She frowns at me, holding out her no doubt sub-zero fingers which I dodge by rolling off the bed with a huff.

‘I’m not sad anymore.’

‘I am Elsie,’ I tell her, walking past them all and grabbing my fags and lighter off the side.

‘Dad are you making us breakfast?’ Sophie asks.

‘It would appear so,’ I snap back.

‘Mmmm-ungry,’ Robin adds to the discussion.

‘I know Robin, I know you’re hungry, I know this, you’ve mentioned it.’

‘And c…’

‘And cold, yes.  Go and get your dressing gown on and I’ll make you all breakfast at bloody ten past six in the morning.’

‘Dad you shouldn’t say bloody,’ Sophie lets me know.

‘And you shouldn’t be awake, dressed and doing hand stands and cartwheels at this time in the morning but, hey, shit happens and I know I just said the naughty word again but you’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again.  Is this child abuse?  Subjecting you to a tirade of abusive words?  Possibly.  Perhaps Social Services will be along any moment to sweep you into the loving embrace of the system.’

‘What’s Social Service?’ Robin asks, momentarily forgetting about being mmmm-ungry.

‘Nothing mate,’ I laugh, opening the kitchen door to be greeted by the two cats, Adam and Eve, who frantically try to negotiate around my legs and run off into the lounge to sharpen their claws on everything but their scratchboard.

I open the window and light my cigarette, opening the first of three microwave porridge packets and adding milk.

‘Robert,’ Elsie says, peeking around the door frame, ‘want Peppa Pig on.’

‘Just hang on a sec smelsie.’

‘Not smelsie, Elsie,’ she corrects me.

I laugh at this and then at her bulging nappy, ‘are you sure about that?’

The microwave pings and the steps are repeated twice more, leaving me with one cold bowl of porridge, a luke warm one and a far too hot for human consumption bowl.

‘Robin, Sophie, Elsie,’ I call as I place the bowls down on the dining table with spoons, ‘breakfast.’

A scurrying of little feet, Tv on, back to bed for an hour.

Robin cries out.

‘It’s too hot,’ he says, blowing raspberries into his bowl.

‘Mine’s really cold,’ Soph announces.

Elsie says nothing, she has won this morning’s porridge Russian Roulette.

‘Just eat will you.  Robin when you’re finished get into your school uniform please.  You might as well be ready before seven too.’

As I lay back down in bed, the beloved turns to me and opens an eye, ‘it’s quiet, are they dead?’

I shake my head, ‘shhh, they’re eating.  For the next ten minutes, we can pretend they never even existed at all.’