I've offered to do a favour for a friend tomorrow. I've offered to look after her children for an hour. I don't regret doing so, after all she's a friend, and she needs a favour, and that's what friends are for. I do however have a certain sense of trepidation about it. Let me explain...
Friend has two children, Girl (4) and Boy (2), both of them lovely. Girl will be starting school in September, and the local school has arranged a New Parents' Meeting, for parents of the new pupils to meet the teachers, see the classroom and ask questions. They've arranged it for 6-7pm. Yes, that's right, they've arranged for the parents of 4-year olds to need to be out from 6-7pm. Because it's not like that's the time 4-year olds might be doing things like, ooh, I don't know, dinner, bath and bed.
So, to allow Friend and her husband to actually see the school their daughter will attend, and meet her teacher, I shall be having Girl and Boy here for the duration. I would have abandoned LittleBear with his father and gone to their house if it weren't the fact that BigBear works late on Thursdays, so won't be home till 8pm.
Therefore, tomorrow, I collect LittleBear from nursery, after a day at work that I fully anticipate to be Bloody Awful, and drive hell-for-leather home in order to be there when Friend arrives with Girl and Boy at 5:30. I then have to attempt to give LittleBear dinner, while not giving Girl and Boy dinner, as they won't need dinner at this point. But they will need to be kept happy.
Girl thinks I'm wonderful, and loves playing with me. LittleBear and Girl get on splendidly and play together happily. On the few occasions when Boy has been left in my presence, such as when his mother has done something unreasonable like go to the loo, his world has ended, the air rent by his pathetic sobs.
Boy is also in the category of small child that (a) puts everything in his mouth and (b) climbs everything. Last time he was here, I felt vaguely prepared and at least put the cat biscuits on top of a cupboard. Boy climbed up the cupboard and found the cat biscuits. Apparently at bath-time his mother found some inside his vest.
I think we can all also agree that there are very few 2, 3 and 4 year olds who are not tired and cranky at, I don't know, let's say 6 or 7pm, for the sake of argument.
I can't imagine what can possibly go wrong. Apart from Boy sobbing inconsolably for an hour and half, eating Inappropriate Objects and falling off Things He Has Climbed, while LittleBear runs around in a state of screaming hysteria of over-tiredness and Girl wants to be carried by me at all times.
I'll see you on the other side...