My boys get up super early. Since they’re now past the demanding stage of requiring food before they open their eyes, they’re allowed to potter round in the lounge room, watching TV or on their tablets. Okay, okay. They still want the food but I have trained them to wait until I can at least crack one eyelid open.Works fine, until I rise at 6.30am and start the morning routine.
I walk down stairs. ‘Morning mate.’
My big boy is glued to his tablet with the headphones on, with the TV on as well. Not, one might be thinking here, to listen to rock music. No, he’s probably listening to some chilled out sesh of Enya or heaven forbid, Moby. Cool, you say. Not. Cool.
‘Morning. Mate.’ Ah, he notices me standing right in front of him, flapping my hands. ‘Morning Mum.’
I walk to the kitchen. I am alone. I walk back.
And this is when the mini-masculine rumbling Pompeii starts. Flinging the headphones, he makes a sound like a donkey giving birth while eating a burrito.
‘Mate. What’s the problem?’
‘I don’t see why you can’t get my breakfast.’
My eyebrow climbs to Mt Everest. ‘Do I look like your servant?’
‘No.’ Mumbled as he reaches for a cup and knocks over the cereal box because he huffing around, clearly regretting his birth.
Grinding teeth. ‘Please go wake your brother.’
‘Fine!’ He huffs off.
Count. To. Three trillion, five-hundred billion and one.
Yawning small boy comes down with grizzling big bro in tow. ‘Morning mummy.’
I get a hug and a sloppy kiss. ‘Morning Mate.’
And then it starts all over again. This time, two walrus bashing the sand out of each other ears in my kitchen.
‘That’s MY bowl! Mum, he’s got my bowl.’
‘You can’t sit there, its my turn.’
And because they’re bickering so much small boy knocks over an entire plate of cereal. With milk. Cereal and milk. All over the floor. And my work pants. I want to make a sound like a donkey giving birth while eating burrito. Instead it comes out like no sound ever heard to man.
They both snap to attention.’Uh, oh. Look what you did! Mum’s mad.’
‘You made me do it!’
The non-human sound erupts, an affront to nature and they both subside. Then furtively glance at the TV. A kind of calmness descends. I clean up the mess, get small boy a new bowl of cereal, all in silence. They chew, while watching TV. Now I hear you say here, well , turn off the TV. No. They fight just as much, regardless.
I make their sandwiches, pack away the remnants and then announce, ‘TV Mum can cut up your fruit. I’m going to work now.’
That gets their attention. Small boy looks puzzled. ‘TV Mum?’
‘Yup,’ I say, ‘TV Mum. You listen to the TV more than you listen to me. So you now have a new Mum. Okay, bye now.’
‘Wait, Mum. Wait!’ They both scramble as I collect my bag.
‘What?’ I ask.
‘What do you mean, TV Mum? I don’t get it.’ This from small boy. From big boy, I get, ‘Duh. Mum, the TV can’t be our Mum.’
‘Oh? I think so. Like I said, you listen to the TV more than me. TV Mum can sign your camp forms, get your swimming gear ready, make you breakfast, remind you to get your violin for early practice, pack your lunch, get your hats, wash your clothes, make your dinner, take you out shopping, down the park, to the beach, have your friends over, give you hugs and kisses, listen to you read, help with your homework, tuck you in, cuddle you in the middle of the night when you have a bad dream…’
I look at them expectantly. Small boy looks crushed. ‘How can the TV be our Mum?’ I shrug. ‘You don’t listen to me anymore when TV Mum is on. And all you do is fight.’
They both look dismayed. ‘I don’t want TV Mum.’ Small boy is upset. Big boy is a little more stoic but not by much. I reach over for the remote. ‘Do you want me to turn TV Mum off?’
They both nod. The red button is pushed and there’s silence. I look at them expectantly. ‘From now on, the TV stays off during breakfast and getting ready. Okay?’
They clamour for hug and kiss, two little expectant faces upturned, lips pursed, shiny with milk and a fleck or two of weet bix. God, how I love them. How I miss them when I’m at work and how I love our end-of-night cuddles on the couch, the highlight of my day.
And when they’re both in secure jobs, happy in their own lives, I’m hitting them up for 6-weekly visits to my hairdresser for the damned grays that are coming in thick and fast!