I wake up to a toothy, drooling grin about 2cm from my face. Ordinarily I’d scream and leg it out of there, but this morning I don’t. The grin belongs to my 9-month-old. How can I not smile at this gorgeousness? ‘Pad, pad, pad, pad, pad’. I hear my 4-year-old running into our bedroom from hers. I hoist her up into the bed. Sleep time is officially over. It’s 5:39am.
It’s a weekday so that means getting the 4-year-old ready for school; changing and entertaining the 9 month old until he is ready to sleep again at about 7:30; helping husband get out the house; and dressing myself into something marginally more respectable than a milk-stained nightie. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Riiiiiight…
Holly, our 4-year-old is gorgeous, she is bright, funny, brave, strong and amazing. She is also 4. So she has very specific ideas, a very strong will and enormous emotions. Getting her ready requires the strength to withstand a full-on assault to the senses for an hour. AN HOUR! You heard me. AN HOUR. This is how it goes…
Parent A: Holly baby, let’s go choose clothes.
Holly: Babeeeeeee Eli! I love you. You’re so cute.
Parent A (still in parent’s room): What would you like to wear today?
Holly: You’ve got such cute cheeks, baby Eli!
Parent A: Holly, do you want to wear a dress?
Holly: Baaa, baaaaa, black sheep heavy heavy wool! Upstairs downstairs one for the girl.
Parent B: Holly! Please get off your brother’s head and listen to you mother/father!
Holly: Daddy! What happens if, if, if, if uhm. What happens if, if, if the rain?
Parent A (falls for distraction): If the rain what, Holly?
Holly: Huh? What did you say?
Parent B: Come now Holly! Or there’s no vitamin this morning (sweet chewy vitamins)!
Holly: Oohhkaaaaya! But I want baby Elllllliiiiii. He’s so cute!
Parent B (drags a dawdling, flopping Holly and carries cute Eli to Holly’s room): Ok. Let’s choose leggings.
Holly: I don’t want leggings. I want a dress.
Parent B: You can have a dress but you need to wear leggings underneath.
Parent A (grits teeth): Because, like we’ve explained before, it’s to stop your panties from showing when you climb and play at school.
Holly: I want my Barbie ones.
Parent A: Here they are. What dress do you want? This grey one with cherries that you’ve only worn once?
Holly (tears welling up in eyes): No! No! I don’t like it. It doesn’t spin out.
Parent B: What about this long one with the giraffe? Or the pink striped one – this one spins out. Or the green one with the sleeves? Or the one with the ice creams?
Holly: I want my Elsa dress! *sings* Let it go! Let it go! Let it go! Let it go! Don’t hold me back anyhow!
Parent B: No. That’s a dress up and dress and you can’t wear it to school. We discussed this yesterday and the day before. And three times last week. And pretty much every other day since you got it.
Holly: I LOVE you mommy! When I grow up I want shoes like yours.
This continues for about 40 minutes. Eventually we’ve poured, mashed, tackled, squashed and wrestled her into a reasonably acceptable outfit. Look, it doesn’t match. She looks like a particularly gaudy Christmas tree. She’s wearing a tiara, socks and sandals, and ‘hand gloves’ but she’s friggin dressed, OK? And her hair is somewhat tamed and almost tidy.
Parent A and Parent B high-five one another as Parent B hauls Baby Eli out from under the bed. He grins happily, displaying the dust bunnies he’s been chewing on.
I’d continue through the teeth brushing (uuuhhhh! A fight every morning and every night. She knows we’re going to win but she still resists. Like a miniature Napolean), and the breakfast, and the walking out the door. But it’s pretty much more of the same: Calling for Baby Eli, singing nonsensical songs, asking random questions, and flopping.
I stand in the doorway with a baby on my hip (still in my milk-stained pyjamas) and watch the husband walk down the path with a skipping Holly tagging behind, I’m shattered. Done in. Finished. Then, Holly turns around, the sun rises above the tree line and a golden ray dances gently on her soft hair. She looks like an angel and it just about takes my breath away.
Holly: Goodbye Mommy! I love you more than all the leaves on the trees! Bye bye baby Eli!