Stuck In The Middle With You

We had one of the worst mornings the other day. A complete shit-show of unpreparedness and lacklustre enthusiasm by all five of our kids to get the hell out of our house so my wife & I could get on with our day making ends meet.

I know it was bad because something which has gone unnoticed for years was suddenly commented upon.

“Show me,” I said to Tracey, as she came thundering into kitchen from telling our two littlest kids to pick up the bleeping mess off their bleeping floor.

For the record, I am tempted to use caps lock in almost all quoted sentences in this post because I could without a single member of this household accusing me of exaggeration. It was one of those mornings.

Tracey glared at me, stuck out her tongue and stomped off.

“Do you want me to make sure they do it?” I called after her.

“Why start now,” she cooed back at me, “and ruin a 20 year streak?!”

Less than a minute later I seethed my way into our bedroom to get dressed, having also told Miss8 and Miss10 to spend a few minutes checking to see if there’s any bleeping carpet under their bleeping toys because the mess was so thick and been there so long I couldn’t even remember the bleeping colour.

For the record, I’d walked into their room with the very best of calm intentions….which flew out the window the moment I realised both girls were, despite their mother’s instructions, playing a game which seemed to involve throwing dolls at each other.

Because Miss16 was in our bedroom checking through the foot thick mess of clean washing spread across our floor for a uniform I put off dressing myself and flopped onto our bed, closing my eyes to focus on willing my blood pressure back to non-lethal digits.

And yes, of course I’m aware of the irony of what I’ve just written: their room’s a mess and our room’s a mess.

But, in my defence, they trashed both. It’d been an acceptably neat & easily traversable – while admittedly huge – pile of washing in a corner of our room before they’d all started ferreting through the damn thing for uniforms they were supposed to have sorted out last night.

“You okay?” Tracey asked me.

I didn’t answer.

I didn’t nod or even open my eyes.

I took a leaf out of her book and poked my tongue at her.

The morning stumbled & tripped & fell along at much the same pace for the next hour. The kids would do something dumb, Tracey & I would snap – mostly at the kids – and then we’d stomp past the other mumbling furiously.

And more often than not aggressively sticking out our tongue before raging off.

“Okay, I give up. What the hell are you two doing?!” demanded Miss16.

She’d been about to stick the car in reverse when Master15 had somehow remembered he’d forgotten his lunch so he’d had to jump out and duck back in the house.

As he thundered into the house at what can only be described as a complete lack of urgency for the fact everyone else was now going to be late, my lovely wife stuck her head out the kitchen door.

I wound down my window and poked out my tongue, at which point she went back inside.

“We’re telling each other we love them and we care and we know exactly what they’re going through,” I told her.

She looked doubtful.

Wasn’t a word of a lie though.

This was actually something we’ve been doing for ten years or more. Usually when the fact we’ve carelessly had more than a sensible number of kids gets particularly stressful.

Specifically, we’re checking to make sure the other one’s tongue was still straight and they haven’t had a stroke.

Raising a family on little more than laughs


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