There comes a time in every parents' life (of this I'm convinced) that one makes the discovery that there is only one way to cope. Two solitary words that, on any given day, have the power to cause mass joy to surge through the average woman's body. Two little words: red wine.
I know this because as I type, I have four bottles of the finest (cheapest - per kind understanding favour of The Incubator) dumped in a large vase, out of which stick a handful of left-over-from-The-Daughter's-birthday-party multi-coloured straws, through which I am guzzling the crimson stuff. The next best option, I fear, would be warm gin.
You see the thing that they don't tell you at ante-natal classes is that once the changing of nappies is over, and once the cracked nipples and breast dependency ceases, you'll be left with a human: one with a vocabulary, a will, a sense of humour (thankfully). One who likes to talk.
It all started - the verbal diarrhoea, that is; not the talking - at 5.08 am on Monday morning. This troubles me especially since I have taken great pride in the fact that, up until Monday, The Daughter was a late riser. But it appears that, with the onset of the discovery that she is able to speak, at speed, without drawing breath for a good 120 minutes on the go, she no longer requires as much shut-eye. I'm shattered.
The Pant: (dreaming of interactions with Patrick Lambie - and not the verbal kind - begins to rouse. Her eyes flicker as consciousness ousts state of euphoria. Begins to open eyes and first sight is of five-year-old angel child but millimetres from her face, breathing the thickness of morning breath) Morning, my angel.
The Daughter: So-Mommy-you-know-I-haven't-stopped-thinking-about-the-hamster-at-Calvin's-house-and-I-really-want-a-hamster-and-actually-I-want-three-hamsters-and-I'm-going-to-call-them-Lily-and-she's-going-to-be-the-queen-and-then-Grace-that's-the-next-one-she's-going-to-be-a-baby-but-they're-all-going-to-be-babies-and-anyway-we're-just-going-to-pretend-so-Lily-can-be-the-queen-and-Grace-can-be-the-princess-and-ooooooo-I'm-going-to-dress-her-in-a-beautiful-pink-ball-gown-and-then-Max-is-going-to-be-the-prince-and-I'm-going-to-look-after-them-because-you-got-scared-when-we-were-at-Calvin's-party-do-you-remember-Mom-Mom-Mom-Mom-do-you?-do-you-remember?
I felt as though I'd been bludgeoned half to death by the power of word. Reeling, I made my way to the kitchen: breakfast, I thought, may cause momentary silence - provided, at least, by the swallowing of chocolate Wheetbix.
The Daughter: (chew)and-Mom-you-don't-have-to-worry-about-a-thing-not-a-single(swallow)-little-thing-because-I'm-a-big-girl-because(chew)-I'm-five-which-is-the-same-as-five-and-a-half-and-at-my-next(swallow)-birthday-I'm-going-to-be-six-and-when-I'm-six-I'm-going-to-be-so-big-that-I'm-going-to-become-queen-and-then-I'll-feed-my-hamsters(chew)-and-I'll-bath-them-in-the-bath-with-me-is-that-okay-Mom-Mom-Mom-Mommy?-Is(swallow)-that-okay-to-you-know-bath-with-my-hamsters?Mom-is-it?-Can-I-can-I-can-I-PLEASE?
After answering fundamental questions regarding the correct methods for raising polite hamsters (including 1. Can hamsters go to boarding school like Cat when we go on holiday?; 2. How big are hamsters' toothbrushes because hamsters should brush their teeth because they are NOT going to be naughty like Cat who doesn't brush his teeth which is just scusting?; 3. Don't you just love hamsters?; and 4. Can we please get hamsters with babies in their tummies even the boys?), I decided to seek respite in the shower.
Because my me-time had been stolen by The Daughter's larynx, I chose to take my morning tea into the shower, and extend my allocated cleansing time just a smidgen.
With only the sound of drumming water, my brain began to acclimatise. I started thinking my normal 5-in-the-morning thoughts like, 'What am I going to wear today?'; 'What are The Daughter's after-school commitments?'; (brief visual of Jake Gyllenhall in most compromising position) 'What am I going to make for lunches?'; 'Is there bread?', when The Daughter opened the shower door enough to squish her face in to begin the verbal torrent again.
The Daughter: Is-today-a-hair-washing-day-for-you-Mom?-Mom?-Mom?-Is-it?-I-don't-like-washing-my-hair-in-the-shower-because-the-shampoo-goes-in-my-eyes-and-it-hurts-but-when-I'm-six-I-will-only-wash-my-hair-in-the-shower-because-that's-what-big-girls-do-and-Mom-Mom-Mom-can-I-wash-my-hamsters-hair?-Do-hamsters-even-have-hair?-Or-is-it-like-Cat's-hair-which-isn't-really-hair-it's-actually-called-fur-even-though-it-leaves-bits-of-hair-on-my-bed-when-he-sleeps-with-me? Oh-Mom-Mom-Mom-
Two hours later, we found ourselves securely strapped into Brumelda en route to school/school (as it happens to be).
The Pant: (turning the radio up to figure out if WeatherSA had been truthful about the day's weather, and whether or not there'd be any accidents on my drive)
The Daughter: So-Mom-do-you-think-my-hamsters-will-be-able-to-come-to-swimming-lessons-with-me-I'm-sure-Uncle-Swimming-Man-won't-mind-and-then-we-can-get-a-pool-and-our-hamsters-won't-drown.Oh-won't-it-be-lovely-when-we-have-a-pool.My-hamsters-are-so-cute-don't-you-think-Mom-Mom-Mom-Mom?
The hamsters we don't own? I feel I know them biblically.
And so I drink this wine without an iota of guilt. And for this I can be eternally grateful to The Daughter.