Talked to Exhaustion: 2013 365 Challenge #101

Playing in the Sand

Playing in the Sand

Today has been a great, if exhausting day. As it’s the school holidays we met up with friends to combine childcare and have a good old natter.

My kids were so excited they were dressed and standing at the front door by 9am. This is unheard of behaviour: normally I have to cajole them for at least an hour to get ready to go out. Shame we didn’t need to leave until 10am!

I had to spend the next hour pleading with them to play quietly by themselves while I cleaned the kitchen, knowing we wouldn’t be home until bedtime.

Our kids play so well together even though they’re 1, 2.5, 4 and nearly 5. My friend and I were able to natter for most of the day, interspersed with the kids’ chatter and fairly non-stop feeding of the troops.

Look at my car, Mummy

Look at my car, Mummy

A slightly nerve-wracking trip to the park chasing my two on their scooters had me aching for bedtime at 2pm (my son apparently has a dare-devil streak and likes to free-wheel down the hill on a scooter he can barely control). We were revived with ice-cream.

Funny how talking all day can be exhausting though, especially when you don’t do it very often. Two days in a row? I’m practically comatose. I fed hubbie frozen chicken and Smash for dinner because I could barely lift my arms or eyes to do anything else. Even typing is using muscles that ache and plea for bed. I certainly don’t have many words left. Thankfully I’ve sketched out my Claire post for today so I can crawl under my duvet in an hour or so and recharge.

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:

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“Auntie Claire, why hasn’t the Easter Bunny been? Couldn’t he find me?”

Claire opened her eyes and blinked them into focus. Inches from her face a little pouting mouth quivered beneath eyes full of tears. Bugger. It’s Easter Sunday. Why didn’t Ruth tell me Sky believes in the bloody Easter Bunny? I mean, who believes in the Easter Bunny? Isn’t that an American thing? The shops aren’t even going to be open today.

Trying to locate some clear thoughts in her cotton-wool brain, Claire felt an urge to pull the duvet back over her head and pretend her niece was a bad dream. The quivering turned into a wobble and Claire sensed an imminent meltdown. Conscious of the four other women asleep in the dorm, she let out a quiet groan and forced a smile.

“I’m sure he forgot you were travelling, Sky, and left your eggs with your Mummy. You can look forward to getting them when I take you home.” The wobbling showed no sign of abating, and the tears were tumbling now, running rivulets down little red cheeks. Don’t cry, please. It’s too early.

“I’ll tell you what. We’ll go to a coffee shop today and you can get a babycino and a large piece of cake.”

A calculating look crept into the tear-drenched eyes and Claire felt able to breathe. “Chocolate cake?”

“Yes, if that’s what you want. With cream and ice cream.”

The face disappeared as Sky climbed back down the ladder. Claire’s duvet clung onto her like a lover, but she knew that her niece wouldn’t sit quietly on her bed for long. Sure enough, a minute later a voice called out, much too loud. “Auntie Claire, can we go to the coffee shop now? Please?”

Claire groaned and wrenched herself free from the warm cocoon of sleep. Leaning over the bunk she hissed in as quiet a voice as would carry, “Soon, Sky, but shush please, other people are sleeping. Get dressed and we’ll go down for breakfast.”

Zoning out the muted grumbling from below, Claire sunk her head back into the pillow and closed her eyes. Moments into a beautiful dream, of lying on a warm beach towel being baked by the hot sun, Claire felt a tug at the duvet followed by arctic air ripping the warmth from her body.

“Sky, did you just pull my covers off? You selfish little brat.” The words were out before she could stop them. Claire felt the blood rush to her face as she realised how awful they sounded in the still of the room. Please god let everyone else still be asleep. Lulled by the ensuing silence, Claire figured Sky must have not heard her harsh words. Then she caught the intake of breath that signalled a brewing storm, and she tumbled down out of the bunk-bed as fast as a Marine called to attention.

Wrapping the quivering shoulders in a smothering hug, Claire stroked her niece’s hair and shushed her. “I’m sorry darling: that was unforgiveable. It’s not nice to pull someone’s duvet off when they’re hardly awake, but it was wrong of me to call you names.”

The sobs still came. Loud wracking cries echoed out through the cuddle, leaving Claire’s skin prickling in mortification.

Thank god we have a private room booked at the next hostel. The sooner we get out of here the better. Claire comforted the child as best she could, then helped her get dressed for the day.

I’m not sure I’m going to survive two weeks of this. Ruth, my dear, I take it all back. You’re a saint. I was right, too. Parenting is most definitely not for me.

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