The Collection

The Collection

I’ve noticed it has been a while since I’ve written about the children in one of my little blogs. I don’t know why, perhaps it’s because being stuck in with them none stop, and they don’t ever ever stop, the last thing I’ve wanted to do is then sit down in front of my laptop and think about the soul sapping, life devouring little monsters. There’s five of them now. FIVE!

I guess this is one of the problems when you start new relationships in your late thirties, you’re not fresh, the other half is not fresh. You’re both baggaged to fuck. I guess that’s life, you’re born with literally not even a shirt on your back, and from day one you start accumulating stuff. First you get a shirt, or ill fitting baby grow, or cardboard box which will carry you to the nearest fire station, we all have different beginnings. From then on we collect stuff. Toys, friends, qualifications, sexual partners, holidays abroad because the aforementioned sexual partner has insisted on three weeks in Mexico if you want to continue being a sexual partner and not just partner…We collect houses, moving into the first horrible flat and then upgrading when our jobs get better, pay becomes more, and the missus stops asking for trips to Mexico. Then we start breeding and begin collecting children.

Now I’ll be honest, I never really wanted children. I was quite happy with my collection of foreign coins, all labelled up in their little plastic pockets in my coin collection binder. The problem though is in my twenties I detested my collection of little soldiers who were stored between my legs (still are as it goes, just to be clear, they haven’t moved out, found a new barracks and gone AWOL), and I would seek to rid the barracks of accumulated soldiers as often as possible, sometimes a girl would help, which was always kind of them, but this inevitably led to me getting involved in what she sought to collect, ie, children.

Twice I managed to find myself with an ever growing collection. A boy and a girl, I had one of each which suited me. The boy would carry my name on down the ages by collecting his own kids and them their own etc, etc. The girl would be my little princess until the day I died. There was no need to collect any more. If anything it would unbalance the status quo. I had one of each, there isn’t a third kind of child yet, although the way the world is going it wouldn’t surprise me if the snow flaking ultra offended PC society soon invents a new kind. Boy, Girl and Undecided…a Birl, or Goy…Birl has rights too after all. You can’t dress Birl up in Blue until Goy has decided for itself.

So I was happy with my collection of two, one of each, perfect. And then I met a lady, the love of my life. We decided I should move in with her and in doing so merging our individuel collections of children.

Alone, I could just about control my two, but all of a sudden it wasn’t just two because the missus had a larger collection than me. She had three of them. And where I had completed the toddler level of my collection, aced the sulky four year old platform, and was riding towards the end of the six year old constant question asking, she was on all of those levels all at once. Let me stop here and introduce you to the family.

There is Grace, two years old.

Connor, four years old.

Eva, Seven years old.

Then my own addition to the mad house, Robin, Seven years old, and Sophie who is Ten going on eighteen years old.

FIVE of them.

What the hell were we thinking?

I know exactly what we were thinking, we were thinking, ‘Look at how nice they play together on the green in front of the house during the summer holidays, and wouldn’t it be great if I didn’t have to go back to my house…ever? Fuck it, lets live together and watch helplessly as the five of them band together, overthrowing the parental regime.’

Routine, while school is out, has gone to shit. Now it is more about survival…for us two. We’re outnumbered and the five of them know this all too well.

I wake up.

It’s eightish.

I know this before I check the time because eight o’clock is when Grace seems to have a sudden burst of child life-crack energy. She’s been up for two hours but until now the missus has managed to keep her reasonably quiet in front of Peppa Pig.

Eight o’clock comes and it’s like she’s just sniffed a line of whizz and is now on a mission to wake the whole house up. By that I mean me. She’s already systematically gone through the other four kids, making sure they are all conscious. It’s more fun when everyone’s awake, right?

‘Rob,’ Grace screams as she blasts her way into the bedroom, climbing up onto the bedding box at the end of the bed and then launching herself at my face.

A knee connects to the side of my head and I open an eye. There she is, nose inches away from mine, big cheesy grin on her face, and I watch as the ice fingers of doom slowly make their way down onto my back.

There’s nothing that gets you up and out of bed quite like subzero toddler fingers.

‘Ok, I’m up,’ I tell her. ‘Why don’t you go and see what mummy is doing?’

’Noooooo,’ she shouts, hand on hip and finger wagging in front of her, ‘Mummy say get up Rob. Not sleeping anymore.’

You can’t help but laugh at that face. I’m getting scolded by a two year old for being in bed, wagging finger and everything. I jump up, keeping eye contact with the little terror. You have to you see, break that connection and they might do literally anything, they could pounce with their outstretched icicle appendages. It’s too early for that shit.

The connection is broken. My fault really, I blinked and when my eyes opened again she was across the room, t-shirt over her head, bare arse in the air grinning at me from between her legs.

It’s not something you really need to see first thing in the morning, or any time ever if I’m being honest, a two year old bent over, slapping their bare bum at you laughing, sphincter pulsating, mocking you, laughing at you too.

‘Bum, bum Rob,’ she announces with another giggle.

Bum bum? I can almost see your colon. Put it away Grace.

I’d like to say this was the first time I had been acquainted with this sight, but that would be a lie. You see Grace is allergic to underwear, nappies, leggings, anything restricting her ability to, without a moment’s notice, whip out the twitching bum hole. I do hope she grows out of this, it’d be quite the awkward moment introducing herself for a job interview one day and without any warning hitching her skirt up and turning around so that the interviewers might enjoy a moment with her twitching poo shoot.

I head downstairs, grace hitching a ride on my back without any warning which causes us to almost fall. I brace myself on the bannister, other arm moving around my back so I can steady the little shoulder gremlin. Morning I say to four year old Connor who is transfixed on watching some YouTube idiot play a computer game on TV. Back in my day we would actually play computer games but these days the kids prefer to watch someone else doing it. I guess it’ll save on aching fingers. Wouldn’t want that of our future snowflakes now would we?

‘Morning,’ my lover says as I reach the kitchen, and I wrap my arms around her, pulling her close for a hug. We’ve been together for over a year now and still I have butterflies in my stomach every morning when I see her. I know, I’m like a hormonal pubescent little girl, I’ll own that.

‘Coffee?’ She asks, knocking on the kettle.

Before her I never really drank coffee. I was living alone with my two kids and I’d drink what they drank, juice. Now though, with the promise of another very noisy day amidst the five of them, a coffee is a well needed start to the day. You can’t be sluggish in this household, you’ve got to keep your wits about you at all times. At any moment a toy might come flying through the air at your head because it “needed” to save the evil robot who was about to trash the lego village and flight is the quickest way to get there.

A steaming hot cup of liquid awakening laxative is place in front of me and I thank the missus.

The four year old Connor comes into the kitchen.

‘Hi Rob,’ he says, hugging me, then turns, ‘Mummy…mummy…mummy?’

‘Yes Connor.’

‘Mummy,’ He continues.

‘What?’

‘Muuuuuuummy!’

Now, I’m not sure whether he is aware his mum has already queried his bleatings, or wether the word mummy is a question.

‘Connor, what do you want?’ She says. She’s been up for two hours already, her patience will be ground down a little now.

‘Can I have…mummy!’

That isn’t a question little man. That’s the begging of a question, stopping because you’re not even sure what it is you want but knowing you want to wind your mum up by repeating her name over and over and over.

‘Connor what? What do you want?’

He looks about the kitchen, frantically trying to find something to latch onto. Nothing. Instead he stamps his foot and shouts, ‘You know what I want. Stop saying you don’t.’

The logic of a four year old.

‘Connor,’ I attempt to intervene, saving my girl from losing her sanity completely before nine o’clock.

He spins around and shouts, ‘I’m not talking to you, I want my mummy.’

‘I’m right here Connor,’ she says, and I laugh, Shannon rolling her eyes and moving over to join me at the kitchen table, her own coffee in hand.

’Stop moving, I want to ask you a question,’ the little man says.

Shan sits down, mouthing the words “Please help me.” I grin.

‘What do you want to ask me because all I’m hearing is the word mummy, mummy, mummy. What is it you want?’

‘Errr, errr, errr, can I have some ice cream?’

‘No darling, it’s twenty past eight and…’

Before she can finish her sentence, Connor’s world collapses. He stamps his foot, screaming ’No,’ and drops to the floor, in tears, unable to handle this sort of rejection. After all he is four and he wants something. The word no shouldn’t even come into play.

‘Mummmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyy,’ he howls.

‘Connor, no, stop it now. You can’t have ice cream at this time in the morning?’

‘But whhhhhhhhhhhy.’

That’s a good question actually. Why can’t he have ice cream right now? Yeah sure, it isn’t really a breakfast thing but I’ll admit I have eaten the chilly dessert first thing before now.

And then she utters the most frustrating answer for a child to be given. She even winces when she says the words.

‘Because I said so.’

Explosions. The universe implodes. There is no point in living anymore.

Connor cries out, ’Noooooooo,’ lying on his belly in the middle of the kitchen bunched fists repeatedly battering the floor.

Again, let’s move forward in time. He’s eighteen. It’s fresher’s week at University, he’s there studying drama (obvious really, he’s already a little diva).

These people he meets now will become friends who might stay with him all his life. They will be his support network when he’s missing home, feels down, has too much uni work and not enough time to complete it. It’s time to make a good impression. He, like all the other freshers there, will need a good bunch of bezzies to get him through the next three years.

‘Can I have a pint of Carling please mate,’ he asks the barman as he chats to some potential friends.

‘Sorry, we’ve run out of draught lager.’

‘But I want a pint of lager.’

‘But you can’t have any,’ barman answers, unaware of what will come next.

’Noooooooo!’ Connor cries out in wounded dismay. He can still remember Ice-cream gate that time when he was little, still wakes up some nights in a cold sweat. No ice cream for breakfast. He never did get a real reason why not.

Stamping his feet he drops to the floor, battering the sticky carpet around his head. Why has this happened again?

‘Another coffee?’ Shan asks once she has managed to distract Connor from his meltdown and he is happy watching TV.

‘Nah, I’ll grab a juice,’ I tell her. Old habits dying hard and all that. I get up and approach the draining board next to the kitchen sink. Something is wrong but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

I fill a glass with cordial and then add water, taking a long gulp to quench my thirst.

It tastes of gritty chicken.

‘Shan, did Sophie do the washing up?’

She turns in her seat and smiles, ‘How did you know? I came down this morning and the kitchen was spotless. She said she was up cleaning at 5 am, strange child.’

Yes, my ten year old daughter is a strange one, there’s no doubt about that. Some days she’s the biggest slob on earth, chucking clothes and sweet wrappers all over her bedroom floor, Alexa wires and I-phone wires snake around the bedroom like amazonian vines, it’s a shit tip and she’s happy to exist in the untidiness. Other days though she wakes up ridiculously early and has an unstoppable desire to clean. Part of this OCD regime is to do the washing up, she wants to help out bless her, but her mode of washing the dishes is vastly different from the norm. For instance, we usually scrape the plates of food into the bin before washing them. Soph has other ideas. After all, they’re being washed, the beans on toast will slide off the plate…and then float about on top of the water like little drowning men (the beans) trying to get to the life raft (the toast). But let’s back up for a moment. Before the actual washing up begins, she needs to fill the sink, and even this process is different. Not one to follow any conventions, Soph will fill the basin with water (cold water, I might add, she doesn’t want it to burn) until it is full and then squirt the washing up liquid around into the ice lake. Ever tried it this way? Yep, no bubbles, just little alien jizz blobs quickly sinking to the bottom of the freezing depths.

We’re ready to now start.

In goes the beans on toast. In goes the bowl of melted ice cream, it’s fine, she put loads of washing up liquid in, that’s the snaking green goo patrolling the basin bed. A half drunk cup off coffee? Get it in there. She’s humming while she does this. Dad and Shan will be so proud, she’d washed up and it is one less job for them to do. This is a brownie points earning bonanza!

‘She’s done it again,’ I tell the beloved.

Shan sighs, ‘Oh no, really?’

I nod, pouring out the chicken filmed cordial. Last night’s dinner wasn’t beans on toast this time. I had cooked a chicken…in a roasting dish…which collected all the chicken grease while cooking…and Sophie poured the lot into the freeze bowl and proceeded to “wash up”. She’ll have washed the dish first, getting it out of the way and then moving onto the rest of the plates, cups and glasses, lining them all in a crumby layer of chicken juice. Oh, is that a glazed florette of broccoli on the inside of a wine glass? That’ll certainly add to the flavour of Shan’s wine the next time she fancies like a glass.

‘Yep, it’s happened again.’

Another sigh, ‘But I’m still picking welded dried crumbs off plates.’

‘And we have to reward her for this, because she thinks she’d done us a solid.’

Leaving Shan to do the washing up I decide it is time to say hello to the seven year olds, Eva and Robin.

I walk upstairs and into the boy’s room. It smells like a hamster cage in here. All that’s missing is the sawdust on the floor and a little exercise wheel in the corner.

‘Hi daddy,’ Robin says, not even bothering to look up from his I-pad. He’s sprawled out across the top bunk, cat asleep on his back, he’s been like this for a while.

‘Robin why don’t you get dressed and go and play outside? It’s sunny.’

‘I can’t, Anthony and me are playing Fortnite and there is a new battle pass I need because something, something, tier 53, something new weapons and the cat head.’

I nod, feigning intrest. ‘Well at least get dressed at some point today.’

‘Awwww,’ he whines. After all this act would take all of two minutes and he’s far too busy for that. ‘Can’t I have another pyjama day?’

‘What? Are we going for the hat trick? No mate, they stink, this room stinks, you stink. You’re having a bath before you get flies.’

He laughs at this as I back out of the room to the safety of fresh air. Eva walks out of the toilet, heading back to her bedroom.

‘Morning Eva,’ I say cheerfully.

‘Urgh,’ she replies.

‘I said good morning Eva,’ I repeat.

‘Morning!’ She shouts, slamming the door behind her.

Did I just miss something?

Did I black out inbetween a blazing row and just catch the back end of it?

Oh no, it’s little miss mood swing. Seven years old and behaving like she’s perpetually on her non-existent period.

I knock on her bedroom door and actually hear the sigh through the door.

‘Go away,’ she cries out.

I open the door and walk into the room, ‘Could I have my phone please?’

Eva sneaks into my bedroom every morning and releives me of my phone so that she can play one of her shit games.

She hands over the phone.

‘Eva, it’s dead.’

‘Yeah, it ran out of battery.’

I look behind her, at the charger plugged into the wall and lay across her bed, where she would have been playing on my phone.

‘How many times, if you’re going to play on my phone keep it charged.’

‘It’s not my phone, why should I charge it?’

What? That isn’t even an answer.

‘But…but the charger is right there.’

A cocky shoulder shrug and smirk is my response.

‘Fine then, you’re not having my phone again.’

‘So?’

I turn to walk out of the room, somehow feeling like I am the one in the wrong. Seven year old girls are a strange phonomina these days. I can’t wait until she turn’s eighteen. I’ll set off first thing in the morning in her car, drive around all day and then deliver it back to the house once the tank is on empty.

‘Rob, aren’t you going to fill the car up? You’ve been driving around in it all day.’

I’ll shrug and give her a cocky smirk, ’It’s not my car, you fill it up.’

Yes I am that petty. Yes I will wait eleven years to get my point across. Living with anus flashing, meltdown having, dish ruining, hamster stinking grumps has made me this way. But hey, that’s what I get for starting this particular collection.

© 2020 byRob Radcliffe / Privacy Policy