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The getting dressed game

9-2-2002

Half an hour on Diaryland, half an hour taking my February entries off the Psion. Barely look at JTW which I am keen to correct and print off.

The Getting Dressed Game

It terms of getting them out to school already that we are getting behind. Use timer on Zozo. Dressed in 63 seconds – a record. Prep for Pevensey.

Wednesday 6th January 2002

5.50 a.m. Up and into the study

I resist the attractions of Diaryland and manage to spend an hour checking through the first two chapters of JTW. They’re becoming muddled. I don’t know which version is which as I have made corrections both on the Psion and on the PC. In truth I should be making no corrections at all. I need to plough on to the end, if anything, take more care as I write so that there is lest to do the second time round. I still manage a sneaky peak at Diaryland. There’s a ‘Notify’ from Chanter with an invitation to read some of his erotica. I glance through it. OK. I’ve lost my list of diary rings, no time to fix it now though.

Does anyone like to cook in Diaryland?

While I’m in the kitchen I dwell on a couple of things that never seem to make it into the diary, yet they are such an important part of my life – cooking and eating. We eat so well, freshly made cream of mushroom soup last night, I had oysters at lunch, I have mussels planned, also Italian backed fish. I regularly cook up Terrence Stamps ‘Vegetable Ragout’.

Get Zoe to school

A gloriously sunny day for their trip to Pevensey. Drop Toby at nursery. The morning is mine.

9.13 a.m. There’s too much to write about

Though I had hoped to spend a couple of hours writing the next instalment of JTW I cannot help but want to write about the trials and tribulations of family life. Getting Toby and Zoe up, dressed, fed and into the car this morning, putting the rubbish out, feeding the rabbits and guinea-pigs, playing ‘The Soldier Game’ on the way in, being able to leave Zoe in the classroom, getting Toby settled into nursery and me round to a coffee shop (Lewes library closed) only to get a call from Wanda saying I have forgotten the bottle of water Zoe needs for her trip. Will she flip? Surely the teachers will be able to give her a drink of water somehow.

Panic at the front door

I had a panic myself, when I was at the front door ready to go the kids had found some half-complete Lego mosaics and decide they need to finish these, need to do ‘just tow more bricks’. I tell Wanda that I can’t do it, that I don’t know how to get them to respond other than by shouting which means they cry which means we are delayed even more. What works, and I need to remember this, is distraction and attraction. I need to collect my thoughts, use my wits and device some trick, some challenge, some game to get them away from their current distraction. I need a magic cattle prod, a wand that throws a net of alternatives their way so that I can put a virtual lasso around their bodies and tug them in the direction in which I wish them to travel.

Should I pay them? Probably not

This morning when she should have been having breakfast I found Zoe counting her money at the front door. She has £4.74 I promise her another 26p if she gets the breakfast things out. It works. I find Toby and Zoe sitting at the table, Zoe wolfing down her Weetabix, five minutes later. When she begins to waver at school, getting into a panic attack, I promise her 20p. This does the trick. All I have to do is remember her purse when I come to collect her.

Park up in Needlemakers

Had thought of parking on top of a hill. Too cold. Cafe closed so head across high Street. Americano. Try to write rather than do the journal (though the two often overlap).

Photobooth Galleon written

Move on after an hour for a change of scene. l like coming to the end of a period (lesson) at school.

Noon Collect Toby

Sorrowful sight of two kids whose parents haven’t made it. Seahaven Pool all to ourselves

Back home

Toby wants to use my ‘denocularses’ (sic).

Play ‘Age of Empires’. Toby is becoming as obsessive about the game as I am.

Feeding Time

Kids have eggy bread – Zoe’s with beans, Toby’s with corn. Zoe gives me what I call a ‘double cuddle’. She wraps he arms around my neck then wraps her legs around me to and gives me a squeeze. She writes it up on the blackboard, ‘Daddy Daughter Double Cuddle’.

Own recipe

Mussels with courgette ragout

Spinach in white

Watch Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Stripped bare the plot doesn’t stand the Hollywood treatment.

At the front door

TBT won’t get his shoes on just as he wouldn’t get his clothes on earlier. Back and forth from the car for this and that, he trips and slams his forehead against the banister post. Bruised he stays.

Make up a story about Zozo making friends with the Pompom head at the bottom of the garden, then making friends with a magic tyre.

On time to school, but Pevensey is tomorrow. Zozo is distraught, I bring her home (Via Tescos).

I feel like drinking, feel lie doing to sort out my mood, sensitivity, negativity. What’s the expression? A bare with a sore head? With the children in front of CITV I retire to bed and sleep for an hour.

TBT winds me up over wanting Smarties. I give up and get Darlingest to take over.

The rest of the day?

I struggle against craving for alcohol or coffee but resist both. With both at home I’m happy for them to sit in front of kids TV. I sleep for an hour. When I get up I’m unable to handle the children fighting and beg Darlingest to take over while I clear my head. I walk up and down the shoreline admiring the angry waves, there is a sharp wind, the sun is crisp. I let myself beach comb for items that might be used in an Art Attack. A couple of stones attract my eye. I pick those up too. This is what Alfie in the Time Telescope would do …. wander the beach looking for things.

The afternoon is spent in their bedroom

TBT does ‘The Solider Game’ while Zozo dresses up. I say no to face paints so she does them on her own. The effect is stunning, the Princess from Star Wars Episode 1 is the look. Plain white with purple highlights, a stripe on each cheek and a dab in the centre of the forehead.

I crane my neck out of the window to watch the waves. There are no takers for a trip out.

Zozo takes herself off to bed. She is tired

She is under the weather. TBT is less easy. He just won’t settle, he’s not even tired. I escape for an hour around 7.00 p.m. only to be presented with him at 8.00 p.m. as Darlingest wants to finish her report.

TBT and I watch ‘Battle Stations’ on Channel 4

It is about Sherman Tanks, I read him a few books. I retire to bed and read ‘Charlie and Tyler’. I nod off and he shoves me back into consciousness.

I make up some Photobooth stories

As has become the case the intro bores them, they want to get to the story. I offer TBT choices from ‘Age of Empires’. He can have a ‘Castle, a ‘Galleon’ or an ‘Elephant’. We go for the galleon. TBT helps fend off and attack and is given his own boat to captain. He has to have the elephant ride too. I fade out as I make it up. He gives me a shove with both feet. I stir from a deep sleep and shout my complaint. He is inconsolable. I fall back to sleep as he goes off to find Darlingest. It is 9.45 p.m.

I am caffeine depleted and exhausted

I stir three hours later as Darlingest comes to bed.

Darlingest works into the night

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