How quickly our ordered, peaceful lives can turn to complete chaos.
My stepdaughter is staying with us with her two children, aged eight months and two years. Nappies (diapers), bottles, high pitched screams, random bed times, a house not designed and laid out for toddlers into everything (shelves at low levels, lots of stairs and no stair-gates) are beginning to take their toll.
One of the fundamental differences between youth and middle age is that when you’re young you’re adaptable and put up with things, and as you get older, you become engrained in your habits and funny-little-ways, so lay out your house in a way that suits you, rather than visitors. So when the number of occupants are virtually doubled with a completely different set of age ranges and needs, it takes very little time before running off to join the Foreign Legion begins to take on a romantic allure.
As I write, my 8 month old grandson is screaming for his bottle, my 10 year old son is showing his 2 year old niece how to play a variety of intensely irritating electronic noises on a toy turtle she got for Christmas, and my wife is yelling at my 7 year old daughter who is shut in the bathroom and can’t seem to get the lock undone.
There was a time when this was just everyday. When the three older stepchildren were all living at home and our two were little, we had everything from smelly nappies through teenage angst and university drop out in the house at the same time.
But the older ones have all left home, and the younger ones are old enough to see to their own toilet habits, while young enough not to want to be borrowing the car or get pregnant. And frankly, I’ve been enjoying the peace of only having 2 children to worry about.
It’s quite scary just how quickly the sense of security and peace can be replaced by chaos and panic.
Now, do I look under “F” for French, or “L” for Légion étrangère…