I was working late last night. I work shifts – and often don’t get home till gone midnight. So I’m going to recharge my batteries with a long lie-in, right?
Err… well, actually no.
I’m woken at 7am by Groucho bursting into the bedroom, fully dressed in her school uniform, complaining that we’ve run out of the fluffy white bread that she insists on eating in favour of anything with actual nutrients in it. One of us (and she’s staring at me) had better get their clothes on pretty damn quick and dash to the local shop to buy a new loaf. The tone of her voice suggests she’s on the verge of phoning ChildLine.
Now the good thing about having a teenager in the house is that you can suggest, by way of a trade-off, that she go downstairs and make you a cup of coffee. I close my eyes, praying that she might discover a stray pan au chocolat that’s fallen down the back of the bread bin and the white fluffy bread errand will be instantly forgotten. But by now Khaleesi is awake and bursting to tell me all about the awful dream she had last night.
The gist of this dream is she got a job on the tills at Tesco and it all went horribly wrong – which may sound harmless enough until you realise that it’s a metaphor for the extremely stressful job she does (nursing) which is being made even more stressful by inadequate staffing and support. So, although I’m feeling a little weary, I sit up in bed, forcing a rictus smile onto my face as she recalls her dream in some detail, then moves seamlessly into telling me about how she discovered HER iPad charger in one of the kids’ bedrooms last night.
The iPad chargers are a long-running source of grievance in this household. Totting up the number of Apple devices we have, we should have at least seven of them but can you ever find one? And when you do manage to locate one of the precious objects, Khaleesi usually storms in, insisting that it’s HER personal iPad charger and you should get your grubby hands off it.
Now call me a socialist – but I’m of the view that things like iPad chargers should be regarded as collective family property, especially as they’re pretty much indistinguishable. Khaleesi, however, thinks this is a ridiculous argument. As she recounts her story of how the kids stole HER charger, she’s getting increasingly angry. Before I know it, she’s jabbing me in the ribs, yelling “…and I know you say ‘We should all share the iPad chargers’ but…” Disturbingly she always put on a high-pitched, somewhat effete voice when she’s doing an impression of me talking – rather like that Chatty Man Alan Carr.
So I finally conclude that dashing to the shops to buy new loaf of the white, fluffy stuff might be the better option. By the time I’ve thrown on some clothes and made it down to the kitchen, it’s clear that there are no stray pan au chocolats to be found down the back of the bread bin because Groucho is apoplectic with rage that I’ve taken to so long to report for duty.
Maybe it’s lack of sleep, maybe I’m just a crap dad – but I end up telling Groucho in no uncertain terms that treating her parents like the Malfoy family house elf is no way to enlist their co-operation. Then I scuttle away sheepishly to the shops to buy a loaf of white, fluffy stuff.
By the time I return, I can tell by the sound of raised voices, audible a street away, that things have not calmed down much – but at least now it’s Khaleesi who’s bearing the brunt of it. Khaleesi, I suspect, is also having pangs of guilt at having allowed me to be wrenched from my bed because she uncharacteristically volunteers to drive the kids to school.
The moment the door slams behind them, a blissful calm descends on the house. I make myself a second cup of coffee and settle down to write my blog.