The longest day – part 3

1501 Decide that a change of scenery might be a good thing for both of us. The Artist Formerly Known As The Youngest has returned from a sleepover, and insists on being taken out so that I can buy her all the things she needs to make me a Christmas present. Try to point out the irony of the situation, but then quickly remember that I am in America.
1515 Baby smiling in stroller, step-daughter animatedly chatting and laughing by my side. Feel certain that I will be the subject of an hour long network TV documentary on parenting perfection.
1517 You always get a meltdown when you least expect it. Attempt to soothe The Little One’s tears by slaloming the stroller with a deftness of touch that would have had Franz Klammer weeping. Send The Artist Formerly Known As The Youngest into the pharmacy to get the liquid glycerin she needs.
1518 TAFKATY comes out of the pharmacy to ask if she should buy the one in the tub or bottle. Distracted by the frenzied crying, I say it doesn’t matter.
1521 Gently try to let my twelve year old stepdaughter know that it’s my fault that she bought the wrong thing, and that it’s probably going to be quite difficult to make soap from glycerin suppositories.
1522 Inwardly pray that she doesn’t ask me what a suppository is for.
1525 Try to pretend that I’ve not heard her, and attempt to distract her with the offer of a slice of pizza for lunch.
1530 It’s amazing how insistent a twelve year old can be. Who said that the youth of today have the concentration spans of a gnat?
1550 Give in.
1551 Being seen in charge of one crying daughter can elicit looks of sympathy from passers by. Having two on your hands makes you look like Herod.
1610 New York City grocery store aisles are not designed to accommodate strollers. Knock around seven cans of canned asparagus on the floor, and ensure that at least two old ladies will be hoping for hip replacement surgery this Christmas. Notice a glint in The Little One’s eyes as I skittle one granny over. Make mental note to watch my back when she gets a little bit older.
1629 Mentally berate myself for not remembering mittens for my daughter. Feel sure that The Special One will notice if she returns home and finds her with fingers turned black through frostbite.
1647 Make it back to the house with all ten digits seemingly intact. Decide to maintain an all-night finger vigil, just in case.
1702 Remember that Americans don’t use the twenty four hour clock. Vow silently to ensure that I translate my timings into the twelve hour system, just in case my ramblings are ever published.
1711 Start to panic that there won’t be enough milk left to last The Little One until her mother gets home. One of us may survive the resultant domestic armageddon, but nobody’s putting any money on it being me.
1722 The tears begin. Grab tissue and hope that I can stop crying by the time The Special One walks in, in just 38 minutes time.
1731 Daughter senses my weakness, and turns on the waterworks. Half expect that she will issue a list of demands to be fulfilled in return for pretending to be asleep when her mother arrives.
1739 Throw my last turn of the dice, by offering her the remaining few millilitreers of milk. Pray that sleep arrives before she can remember that she was supposed to be crying.
1745 Overcome by my subterfuge, The Little One closes her eyes and falls asleep. I look around the living room, and realize that it makes Calcutta look like a bijou area of Kensington by comparison.
1746 Begin running around like a crazed maniac, wiping down surfaces and throwing debris into any available cupboard. Consider sticking a broom up my arseass to speed the process, but don’t have time to find one.
1755 As I pick up the last toys, The Little One suddenly begins to shuffle and squawk, causing me to freeze motionless in panic. Time passes with all the speed of an unstarred McDonalds server.
1759 Out of the corner of my eye, I see The Special One walking up the path. The Little One drops her head. I jump into my chair with the grace of a leaping salmon, grabbing and opening a magazine as I fall. I am relaxation personified.
1800 “Tough day, honey?” asks The Special One. “Not at all – we’ve just been hanging out,” I reply. “So why are you reading Country Living upside down?”
1801 I swear that I see my sleeping daughter smile knowingly at me. We all know who’s boss, and it isn’t me.

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