If my life was a television channel it would entirely been comprised of an endlessly looping advert for sanitary towels, where the mother of a family effortlessly juggles a thousand tasks. All the while safe in the knowledge that patented technology was keeping her clear of unsightly stains caused by - bizarrely - blue liquids.
Last Friday I spent the morning painting the Girl's room. In the process I also managed to paint every square inch of myself, most of the floor, the stool I was using, the bath and the cat because it looked at me funny. I finished just in time to pick up the Boy, take him to a party and have balls thrown at me for two hours.
I'll admit that the balls in the face was a surprise. When we arrived at the party the Boy dumped the present he'd brought on a table, stripped to the waist and ran screaming into the hall where he proceeded to dance impressively to Gangnam Style. It speaks of the information age that my son most commonly sings in South Korean. In school even the hot French teacher couldn't teach me to say anything other than "Je suis le vaisseau spatial Enterprise"*. Make some geezer in sunglasses sing on the toilet whilst dancing like he's riding a horse, and my son turns into Ban Ki-Moon.
I was a bit surprised when we arrived that there wasn't a bouncy castle. I've mentioned about my hatred of bouncy castles here (not that it stopped us from hiring one for our kids party). Instead, there was bloke in sportswear and a lot of cones. A few other parents and myself grabbed some chairs and sat against the wall chatting. Cups of tea, vodka and cyanide pills were handed out. Some poor fool started a conversation with me, using the words "Doesn't your wife have a horse?" and I embarked on a long and detailed explanation of my unending hatred of all things equine.
As I was getting to the bit about shotguns and petrol strimmers, I looked up and realised that the bloke in the sportswear had lined all the kids up to play a game of dodge ball With us in the line of fire. Before we had time to teach our kids any new expletives, there was a blizzard of misdirected balls. In which respect it was a little like my wedding night. Cue an orgy of flying coffee, spectacles and glassware. It was awesome.
After two hours a bunch of exhausted parents led their children, frothing and spiral eyed from E numbers and sugar, back to their cars. I all but hammered the Boy into his seat and rushed off to pick up the Girl, who greeted me with the line;
"I love you, daddy!"
Before poking me in the stomach and following this up with;
"Because you're so SQUISHY!"
Days like this are not rare. Most days are like the tampon advert, but without the terrible music or impressive absorbency. Due to the irritating necessity of having to pay mortgages, both the Wife and I work, which means some days we pass each other at the front door with barely enough time to say; "The Girl cleaned the laptop keyboard with yoghurt."
Today the Wife was on a course, so I had to rush out of work early, pick the Girl up from pre-school, the Boy from school, rush home, get the Boy changed, take him swimming, not kill anyone at the swimming pool (and I really, REALLY wanted to) and come back to cook dinner, bath them, shout at them and then put them to bed.
Not that I'm expecting sympathy, but it does rather explain why most parents you meet have a tolerance for bullshit approximate to that of an american border guard. Which in my experience, is zero. What prevents both the Wife and I from picking up a sniper's rifle, scaling the roof and picking off kittens with precise head shots is those moments when the Kids do something that makes you realise why you did all of this in the first place.
A while back the Wife came back from picking the Girl up from school. It had been another one of those insane, scheduled-to-the-minute days. She was stressed, so when the Girl said something from the back seat she wasn't quite paying attention.
"I said; 'take this, mummy.'"
The Wife took the imaginary object from the Girl, pretended to pop it in her mouth, chew and swallow it.
For a moment there was no sound, so she turned around to see the Girl staring at her with a look of abject horror.
"What's the matter?"
The Wife asked.
"That was MY PRETEND CAT!"
* "I am the starship Enterprise"