The eight-year old steps with exaggerated stealth through the lounge and past the area where she is working on her laptop.Â A floorboard creaks and he pauses mid-step, a thin veil of sweat breaking out on his young forehead.Â She turns her head slightly in irritation and then, thankfully, resumes her typing.Â The boy heaves a (quiet) sigh of relief and scurries to his playroom, hoping to make it before she finds cause for rebuke.
He joins his younger brothers who are, as usual, arguing over their toys.Â ‘Shhh!’ he whispers urgently.Â ‘She’ll HEAR you!’Â The younger boys pause in their squabbling and glance nervously over to where she frowns in concentration.Â They are thirsty and in need of a snack (it is AT LEAST twenty minutes since their last) and bicker under their breathsÂ over who will be the one to ask this time.
They have already risked asking twenty seven times; each time she has barked at them to ‘Wait a minute’ because she’s busy.Â As only one of them is old enough to have any concept of time, the other two remain bamboozled as to how long this ‘minute’ constitutes; time enough to watch a whole episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, it would seem.
The eight year old tentatively suggests to her that he get everyone some drinks; with a seemingly monumental effort on her part she thanks him as her face twists into a grotesque grimace that he thinks is meant to be a smile.Â He takes the chair and pours three drinks carefully, his small hand shaking with the stress of trying not to spill and invoke the beast’s wrath.
She heaves herself to her feet as he carries the drinks over andÂ they pause nervously, wondering if she is about to lavish them with hugs and kisses or if she will simply grunt at them to ‘play nicely’, pour herself a glass of water and resume her position.Â At such an unpredictable time even the youngest senses that pooing in his pants will be less favourable than normal in this current, chillyÂ climate.
The four-year old, as is his way, spills his drink.Â He has done this eighteen times during the previous week and on every other occasion, she has said, with only the slightest twitchÂ of her eye, ‘don’t worry, it’s an accident’ and wordlessly mopped it up.Â The look of horror, however,Â in his big brother’s eyes is enough to tell him he may have come to the end of his lucky run.
They wait with bated breath for the deluge to begin: ‘Oh for goodness sake, M!Â Why can’t you be more careful?Â EVERY time!’ she declares as she tears kitchen towel a little too forcefully from the roll and exaggeratedly mops with much dramatic sighing.Â They suspect at any moment sheÂ will place the back of her hand across her forehead in a ‘woe is me’ gesture and they glance around surreptitiously forÂ the camera that might be filming her starring role.
She hauls herself to her feet, muttering and despite it being entirely outside their control, they sense that in this time of PMS they have made things worseÂ by having the sheer audacity to be off school and pre-school for the summer holidays.
She suggests a walk with the dog, sounding for all the world like she has suggested they pull out their teeth without anaesthetic.Â Under ‘normal’ circumstances there wouldÂ be a clamour of resistanceÂ which she would laugh off; today, despite their lack of years, they are wise enough to only put up the most feeble of defences before her stony glare silences them and they reluctantly shrug on coats and shoes.
The eldest boy is particularly nervous about this upcoming outing.Â He knows he isÂ prone to falling over fresh air and that hisÂ inability to put one foot in front of the other without inducing injury is a bone of contention at the best of times and this, he has to concede, is most certainly NOT the ‘best of times’.
He does indeed fall within fifty feet of their home and he stifles his sobs as she inspects his injury with barely concealed annoyance and offers a perfunctory hug.Â He apologisesÂ for leaving some of his knee on the road but this only seems to incense her further.Â ‘Don’t apologise’ she orders.Â ‘You can’t help falling over, it was an accident.’Â Again, under ‘normal’ circumstances this would soothe him, but the way she says it today makes him inexplicably feel as though he has failed her.
She seems impervious to all the usual charm offensives; his own jokes, the four-yearÂ old’s dancing and the two-year old’s sweet kisses are all to no avail.Â He clings on to the memory of their dad telling him (out of her earshot, of course) thatÂ this will only last a few days and assuring him that she won’t REALLY burst out of her clothes and turn green (even though it seems an everÂ likely possibility).
His dad had insisted that things like that only happen in the movies but if he really believed that, then whyÂ did his leg start to jiggle nervously when she stalked into the room, eyeing them suspiciously?Â They had both averted their eyes then, just in case the myth about Medusa turning people to stone really does exist.
And, although not a religious man, the fatherÂ had hugged his three sons close to his chest (in what he hoped was a non-inflammatory way) and said a silent prayer for his wife to be restored to him soon…Tags: humour, PMS, PMT, women