'What would you like for Christmas?' I asked the 15-year-old distractedly on Sunday morning. 'Breakfast!' he replied snarkily. He'd been asking me to make him breakfast for an hour and I kept saying, 'in a minute.' I was lying on the couch, with a mug of tea, reading the Sunday papers. Not even my son's warnings of impending starvation were going to shift me.
Of course in the end maternal guilt kicked in (either that or I get fed up of his whinging) and I threw a few rashers under the grill. The thing is - I was solo parenting for the whole weekend as Himself had gone to a trade show. This meant only one thing - A Free For All!
Himself's absence for three days meant no cooking, no cleaning, lots of wine, a big roaring fire, custody of the remote control and the kids being allowed to do pretty much what they like, save maim themselves, each other, or burn the house down.
We ate takeaway, stayed up late watching rubbish tv and ate a whole box of retro sweets - refreshers, black jacks, wham bars and fruit salads. 'Mam, are you drunk?' asked the 15-year-old, after I'd eaten my 10th wham bar and was laughing hysterically at Gogglebox. 'No,' I replied, 'but it feels as good as being drunk!'
You see when The Man Of The House is at home, everything is run with military precision. He shouts at us to get up in the mornings, lambasts me for schlepping around in my dressing gown after 10 am, and has each day mapped out for us to include fresh air and exercise, both of which I am not greatly enamoured with.
If we don't adhere to the rules, he moans how we've wasted the entire day doing absolutely nothing. But I like doing nothing! It's actually my favourite thing to do!
He rang when we were all lying on the couch watching Strictly. 'What did you do today?' he inquired. 'Eh… went for a long walk, swept up the leaves in the garden and made dinner,' I said praying I wouldn't be struck down.
'You told us we should never tell lies!' pipes up The Youngest. Feck! How is it they always remember what you tell them when you least want them to? 'It wasn't exactly a lie,' I told her afterwards, 'I did walk the dog around the garden, and I kicked a few leaves out of the way. AND I took the takeway out of the cartons and put it onto the plates,' I said, justifying myself.
By the time he came home Sunday night, you could have peeled me off the ceiling from all the sugar, the children were quite happy to have order restored and I reckon the dog shed a tear or two of happiness.
Everyone needs someone to keep them in line!