The door slams against the wall. Polly is standing in the doorway with an angry looking Mick on her arm. He is wailing. The sound of Elly sobbing from her bedroom is also apparent. Light floods into my bedroom.
“I need some help, please,” says Polly.
She is seething.
We passed each other on the stairs this morning at 9.30 and I said “Good morning, I’m going back to bed.”
I then lay in bed listening to the drama unfold.The dull thud of Now That’s What I Call Fucking Annoying Children’s Music Vol. 237 penetrates the floorboards as soon as I hit the matress. It is really loud, and the children start screaming with excitement.
I lie in bed and think about the words to Knees Up Mother Brown, and wonder who Mother Brown’s son was? Some kind of psychotic, Norman Bates character – witness the following lyrics - “Knees Up Mother Brown, Under the table you must go, If I catch you bending I’ll cut your legs right off,”
The music suddenly stops and I can hear the children crying.
“Come on, upstairs, I’ll get you dressed,” I hear Polly saying, and they all stomp up the stairs.
I close my eyes and drift off for a couple of seconds, but soon wake up to hear Polly saying “No Elly, No Treats, No Chocolate, No Magazine, I’m not buying you ANYTHING,” and then Mick starts HOWLING.
I open my eyes, stare at the ceiling, hold my breath and count the steps as they approach the bedroom
The door slams against the wall.
“I need some help, please,” says Polly.
The “please” is venomous.
I am in very big trouble.
I lie in bed and watch Polly hurl the curtains open.
“Ok. You are in charge. What do you want to do?” I say.
“Choose anything you want. Whatever you would like to do, choose it and we will do it,” I say.
“We could drag the screaming children around the fucking park for an hour and then come home,” Polly says. She is in quite a bad mood.
I get up and walk into Elly’s room. She is sitting in just her pants and crying.
“Stop this ridiculous crying,” I say.
Polly comes in and starts reasoning with her.
I walk out into the hall.
I listen for a while. Elly is just crying on purpose now and every time Polly says something Elly turns up the volume.
“Polly, come here,” I say.
These are Polly’s favourite words. She doesn’t come here, she gets Mick dressed and then starts reasoning with Elly again, except she is just getting dragged back into an argument about how she never does anything Elly wants and how it is Elly’s worst day and how no-one ever wants to play with Elly and how Polly has ruined everything.
Eventually I walk into the bedroom, grab Polly’s arm, say “Come with me,” and pull her out of the argument and into our bedroom.
“Don’t grab my arm David, don’t pull me about in front of the children,”
“Polly, just let her cry. Let her cry for an hour if she wants to do that, but just let her do it and don’t keep trying to stop her,”
Polly sits down on the bed.
I have an idea. I go running off into Elly’s bedroom and grab four toys from the floor.
“Look Polly, this is Me, and this is You and these are the kids,”
“Fuck off David,”
“No, listen, it’s good, come on, this is me and this,”
“No, I’m not doing it,”
I pick up a horsey.
“I’m sorry that I went back to bed, I didn’t mean to annoy you,”
Polly looks at the teddy and says “You didn’t even put their fucking clothes on and you just went straight back to bed and you did nothing at all with the kids and you waited until they were right on the edge and they weren’t ready to do anything at all and you went straight back to bed and left me to look after them…”
“Get the bear to say it to the horsey Polly,”
Polly starts punching the horsey again and again.
This is very good.
I pick up the horsey.
“I’m sorry that I didn’t think to get the children dressed when you were sleeping in bed until 9.30 this morning. It was unforgiveable of me. And I’m sorry that I have no enthusiasm for anything and that I’m tired all the time and that I just want to go back to bed. I am so fat at the moment and just want to sleep all the time and feel terrible and sad all the time because I put on three stone in weight and can’t bear myself or what I’ve let happen to me and just want to lie in bed all the time and sleep and not have to face up to the work I’ve got to do to get back in shape,” says the horsey.
Polly looks at me and picks up the teddy bear.
“Oh, I didn’t realise you were feeling so shit, I’m sorry,” says the teddy bear.
“And these two are pissing me off too,” says the horsey, and he throws the other two toys on the floor.
Polly laughs. She is clearly no longer in a mood. This is brilliant. By being a vulnerable horsey, I have won. HOOOOOORAAAAY.
Polly takes the children downstairs.
I am on fire. I have the power. I should be a life coach. Live every breath. Say what you feel. There is nothing on earth that can’t be solved by communicating and I am an expert communicator. I’ve had an excellent idea. I run downstairs and grab the phone.
“What are you doing?” says Polly.
“Don’t worry, I’ve got everything sorted,” I say.
I run upstairs to ring my friends Jon and Jo. Honesty and openness will save the day. Their voicemail kicks in. I know that they will pick up today though, because today I have the power, the power of the present, of the moment, the power of NOW.
I say “hello” in a variety of stupid ways until Jon picks the phone up, as I knew he would. I squeeze myself inside the moment, seize it and positively mould it to my will with my newfound clarity and enlightenment.
“Jon, we’re bored out of our fucking skulls here, can we come over for lunch?”
“Sorry Dave, we’re going round to my parents for lunch,”
“No Jon, I think you mean “Yes, we’d love to have you over,”
“Ummm, No, sorry Dave, we’re going over to my parents. For lunch. They’ve got rib of beef,”
Never mind though, because I hear Polly shout up “It’s alright David, I’ve got a plan, we’re cooking down here,”
“Oh, don’t worry Jon, we’re cooking this morning anyway. Everything’s going to be O.K.”
“Right Dave,” says Jon.
“Right, yeah, everything’s going to be GREAT,” I say
“BYE JON,” I shout
I bound downstairs.
“I was just phoning Jon,” I shout to Polly, putting the phone on the reciever thingy in the living room, “I thought we could go round for lunch, but they’re going to Jon’s Mum and Dad’s, anyway it doesn’t matter because you’ve got a brilliant plan now, you’re doing…”
I walk into the kitchen.
Two chairs have been organised around the work surface.
I see Elly walking from the toilet towards her chair.
I see Mick glance at Elly, then scramble off his chair, run and lurch towards her chair just at the same moment she runs towards it and screams “Oh MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICCCKKK”
He reaches towards her, grabs a fistful of her hair and pulls.
Simultaneous cries of outrage fill the kitchen. The sound is invasive, palpable.
I look at Polly’s face. She looks exhausted.
“…cooking,” I say.