If you happened, by some misfortune, to be in the vicinity of our road, early on a weekday morning; you would not be criticised for supposing that all peace negotiations had failed and that World War III had, in fact, commenced.
Mornings with three children, two of whom have severe ADHD and a Labrador, who is, in fact a Weapon of Mass Destruction, leave very little to be desired.
When the alarm rings at 06.45am and I crawl out of bed, there is only time to attend to the most critical of personal ablutions; Loo, teeth, Contact lenses and a VERY strong cup of tea before the call to battle is sounded. With some trepidation, I advance upon the Boys' room, carefully negotiating a path through a minefield of PSP games, discarded clothes, Lego and dirty plates, from illicit late-night snacks! The next manoeuvre must be completed from the foot of the High Sleepers and timing is key. Using a well rehearsed cheery tone one must display lightening reflexes. Simultaneously flicking the light switch one then lunges like an Olympic Fencer to grab the corner of the adjacent duvets and whip them off the sleeping incumbents. This has to be done in approximately 2.5 seconds before beating a hasty retreat to avoid the ensuing Missile Offensive from the top bunk!
The roar of incomprehensible, expletive-laden rage, which explodes from the Boys' room, trips a circuit of chaos. My daughter sets up a shrill wailing from beneath her duvet and the Labrador's sound-activated Bark and Bounce Sequence commences down below. Clutching a fistful of clean pants and balled socks I hurl them into the appropriate bedrooms like hand grenades shouting "Get dressed! Leaving in 15 mins". By the time I reach the Dogs they have hyped themselves into a frenzy of delight which invariably results in someone or something (usually pictures on the wall) being knocked flying! With some nervousness I inspect the room for evidence of Crimes against Domesticity.
Beans the Labrador, aged 18 months is possessed of an awe-inspiring lack of intelligence. This is coupled with a innate desire to seek and destroy, anything and everything that one would reasonably expect to find in a Family Home. Whilst he has a Pedigree as illustrious as our Royal Family, he is as my Vet ruefully informed me, "Incredibly thick!".
Personally I think he is a furry incarnation of Norse God of Chaos, Loki. He is both irresistible and infuriating by turns. No sofa is left unturned and no pants-crotch unchewed, as Beans romps through daily life with an exuberance which unparalleled in my experience.
He is merciless to his victims; a Pair of Roller skates, Eight Shin Pads (Nike), a Habitat sofa and cushions (chewed from the front and right out through back of the frame) 22 Shoes (School, Ballet, Trainers, Football boots and UGGS) both single and pairs, have been indiscriminately annihilated. Enough Barbie Dolls have been summarily executed by amputation and decapitation to satisfy even Tarantino and any Fatwas! Despite the entire contents of the room now being placed 3.5 foot above floor-level, Beans is dogged in his determination to extricate, chew and anoint with pee every single item I possess!
Down into this Armageddon, come the children, in various states of undress, as I hurl things into the washing machine, unload the dishwasher and clear up whatever little gift Beans has thoughtfully left for me during the night. Roaring and swearing like Rugby Internationals, the Boys career madly around the place, indiscriminately whacking and punching anything which strays into their path. Abbie and the dogs retreat to the relative safety of the Sitting Room and the solace of Cbeebies. Inarticulate with fury due to being unable to find his school trousers, which are right in front of him, my eldest will exact his revenge on humanity, by repeatedly slamming the fridge door or grabbing handfuls of his brother's hair. Meanwhile, my younger son skips around the house like a skeletal bush baby, shrieking irrational arpeggios of anguish, with his trousers and pants on back-to-front.
All that can be done, is to sweep the uncontrollable rabble toward the front door, each clutching their Marmite on toast in one hand and the rest of their clothing in the other. Nothing in nearly fourteen years of Parenting, has ever made Mornings any easier or less chaotic? Four nannies came and went, without having even the slightest impact on the routine and invariably, with their Gina Ford and Supernanny mindsets, in tatters. Since shouting oneself hoarse and threatening to remove every luxury known to them, including light bulbs; is not even met with the slightest deference, I have concluded that the Path of Least Resistance is the best. But thenas if by magic, a merciful silence descends like a 13.5 tog duvet of calm, as the Boys' morning dose of Ritalin kicks in. Thereafter, the street breathes a collective sigh of relief, as the Hieatts head off on the school run. The only evidence of the earlier mayhem, is the solitary cup of tea left cooling quietly, on the front wall.