With my lovely wife still in hospital, I think I’m starting to figure out why she’s always looking so stressed around Christmas.
For example, the end of the school year is such a wonderful time for the kids.
Less so for parents.
“Where’s the devon?” Miss12 asked. She was standing in front of the open fridge, hunched over, peering in and looking worried.
“I ate it,” yelled Miss5 from the bathroom.
We’d just arrived back from watching the school play starring Miss12 and Master10. I was looking forward to everyone going to bed. A lot.
“WHAT!?” crooned Miss12 sweetly in the direction of her little sister. “Dad needed those!”
This was news to me.
Which would account for why I nodded when Miss5 asked me this afternoon if she could eat them.
“I didn’t need them,” I assured Miss12. “There’s ham or jam in the fridge for lunches.”
“You did?!” screamed Miss12 so loudly my ears started ringing. “You’ve got to make sandwiches for my group tomorrow morning!”
“What group?” I wanted to know.
“My class group. We’re going to Noosa, and you’re making seven devon and tomato sauce sandwiches.”
“Yes!” she insisted. “And seven chicken sandwiches!”
Not only had I let Miss5 eat the devon, we hadn’t had a cooked chook in the house for a couple of weeks.
I looked at my watch: 9.10pm. The local supermarkets were closed.
But also: WHAT THE HELL!?!
If I say, at this point, I lost my shit, I’m understating it. Hiroshima was less explosive.
The next morning, with a much calmer mindset – more like Gallipoli or D-Day – I raced down to the supermarket for a whole chook and three inches of devon: I had sauce.
Then I returned home and started madly buttering and muttering and thinkering.
“Why am I making so many sandwiches?” I asked Miss12 as I tried to pull meat off a hot chook without burning my fingers. “Am I feeding half the class? Is anyone else bringing anything?”
“Oh, yeah,” Miss12 assured me. “We’ve been broken into groups of seven and everyone has to bring something. Like someone has to bring the fruit.” Lucky bloody parent. “I said I’d bring the sandwiches.”
I thought about that for all of one second before I put the butter knife down. I thought it was best I didn’t have a sharp weapon in my hand for the next bit.
“If,” I started calmly, and then gave my voice free range to escalate up through the octaves from there, “there are only seven people in your group, why am I making FOURTEEN FRIGGIN’ SANDWICHES?!”
“Well, I don’t know if they’ll all like devon,” said Miss12 matter-of-factly.
“They might have liked jam or ham!” I ranted.
At this point I’m going to cut out a lot of cussing from this post and just go straight to me ‘suggesting’ I make four devon & sauce and four chicken & mayo sandwiches, and if anyone wasn’t happy with that they could sue me.
Which was when Master10, who had absolutely been present the previous night when Miss12 nearly lost her life, walked into the kitchen, picked a nectarine out of the fridge, took a bite and said, “Oh, yeah, I need some sandwiches for my class too.”
I made a total of sixteen sandwiches. Eight each. Made with whatever the opposite of love in the kitchen is. Individually wrapped. Individually cussed at. Delish.
Despite things easing up and becoming more fun in the classrooms, it was the most stressed school morning of the school year.
I took them and their stupid sandwiches to school, then I phoned my father and suggested we go to the pub for an early lunch.
But as usual life wasn’t quite done with me yet.
“Did the kids like the sandwiches?” I asked them that afternoon.
I got a non-commital nod from Miss12, but a dodgy look from Master10.
Suspicious, I asked him again if his classmates liked the sandwiches I’d so ‘lovingly’ made him.
“Actually, I didn’t need them,” he confessed. “Turns out our fun day is tomorrow.”
And while my first thought was to ban him from telly, iPads, laptops, iPods, Xboxes, Wiis, calculators, lights and hot water for the duration of the upcoming Christmas holidays, I have to say he did redeem himself a little.
“I tried to eat them all,” he told me earnestly. “But I could only fit five in my stomach.”
And sure enough, he only had three left. I’m not ashamed to say I checked.
Four devon and one chicken sandwich? I figured he’d suffered enough.
“So I have to make another eight sandwiches for tomorrow?” I asked him, much calmer now because at least I had time to get to the supermarket tonight.
“No,” he said brightly. “Turns out we don’t have to bring anything. They’re ordering pizza.”
Thank goodness it’s the holidays. But also, no wonder Tracey is always looking so freakin’ stressed at this time of year.
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“Raising a family on little more than laughs.”