Husband plus self woken at 2am by the matutinal cries of youngest offspring. Both attempted to feign sleep of the deepest variety in a bid to out-fake-snooze the other, yet both thwarted by the perseverance of said child. The unmistakable thump of small feet on wooden floors followed, before floodlights were switched on in the bedroom, lighting us up like the remnants of nuclear waste.
In the manner of SAS soldiers we leapt from the bed ready for battle to commence. Physical training ensued in the shape of a trek across the Calpol Trail, administered through foggy eyes, yet with highly specialized hands that, after years of honing a particular set of skills, now have the unique ability to sense a precise measure of Calpol, even in the dark.
Once the youngest child had performed various explosive emptyings of her bowels, we returned to bed, wide awake and alert, awaiting the next cry. But, rather than hearing a child, it was the dogs that started next. The older hound began her customary ‘let me out’ whimper, manufactured solely for employees of the RSPCA, and the youngest joined in with her latest trick: the howl. Husband leapt from bed again, slightly less energetic this time, in order to vault the stairs and bellow at the creatures in manner of a slo-mo action scene with Bruce Willis, “Noooooo… Ittttt… Iiiiis… Bedtiiiiiiiiiiime…”. The dogs, suddenly displaying a previously unknown ability to grasp the fundamentals of any of our commands, must have sensed the desperation in husband’s tone, and immediately shut up. He returned to bed and sleep eventually beckoned.
Morning dawned like a shovel of sand to the eyes. Husband rose at 5.45am and I not long after. Youngest child of course slept on like a winner of the Marathon des Sables on valium, whilst the reality sunk in that I’d be the one to take the day off work and cope with the contents of her bottom. Made mental note to self to warn daughters when older to brace themselves for this assumption of unshared parental responsibility when in receipt of ovaries, and armed self with weapons of choice (bleach, disinfectant wipes, canister of Dettol aerosol spray). Belted my dressing gown tightly around me with a flourish and significantly more confidence than I felt, and ventured into the bathroom, back against the wall, eyes rolling for signs of infectious illness, canister at the ready to aim and fire.
Youngest awoke with joy to the news that school was off for the day. I explained in hushed tones of magnanimity that verged on reverence and demanded gratitude, that I would be deigning to ‘take the day off’, an unheard of phenomenon, in order to care for the poorly one. To which she replied, “Where’s the iPad then?”
Husband left with a spring in his step around the 7am mark, whistling as he mounted his bicycle and popping his helmet on in a jaunty fashion, peddling off with all the bonhomie of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. I stood in the doorway of the House of Poo, contemplating the work that I would have to do in order to not actually go to work. Made various phone calls, accepted various phone calls, answered emails and texts, sent similar, then re-bleached the tainted bowel-receptacles of the abode, exhausted eyes swinging from skull on strings. Youngest all the while had a merry time showing me how to skip and enquiring with a smile as to what learning she’d be missing. She beamed with jolly aplomb when realising that her English lesson would have finished for the day, and returned to her new home, the toilet, with the look of one who has had a stay of execution.
By 10am it was clear from a perusal of the fridge that supplies were dwindling and that a forage in the Land of Tesco might be necessary, especially in the direction of Dioralyte. I carefully timed the last episode of bowel-explosion and ran for cover in the car, the smallest daughter attached to my side. We chose a supermarket with both a pharmacy and a loo (wise move as it happened) and purchased rations for the day in between speed-marching to the toilets and emerging red-faced from the cubicles whilst fighting the urge to scream, “IT WASN’T ME” to the waiting queues. Found self chatting in overly-loud voice to youngest about her bottom and her day off school, in order to quash any suspicions to said queues that I was merely using her as cover for my own flatulent shenanigans.
Upon our arrival home, I have continued to extol sympathetic crooning to the youngest whilst surreptitiously spraying the air around her with Dettol. The day has passed surprisingly quickly given our incarceration, but I fear the approaching evening with a sense of doom, akin to all other parents who have gone before me and know the horror of the Cry In The Night. Be strong my comrades, one day in the future it will our offspring wiping our arses and pretending not to mind the stench.