Thursday, April 9, 2009

the dirty ditch is doing my head in (and other absurdist masterpieces.)

When Keith is in Canberra, I spend a lot of time alone with my two pre-schoolers. Sometimes I start to feel like I'm in a piece of absurdist theatre, playing to an empty house. I spend all day alternating between negotiating, reprimanding, praising and managing bizarre behaviours. Also, I perform Wiggles numbers on demand.

For posterity, here's a snapshot of today:

I paper the fridge with lists in a futile attempt to keep a step ahead of the chaos. Lists of menus, shopping, and stuff-to-do become, by lunchtime, a mockery, and by 4pm, an amusing sort of satire on the housewifely arts.

Ivy, in constant motion, gathers random objects (play-dough, sultanas, wet washing) into odd marriages and puts them in bags, boxes, saucepans and shoes. Here she proudly displays the Thomas tableau she's arranged in Teddy's bed.

After this she posts all the cups into the washing basket.

Ivy fills the 'dirty ditch' with toys, illicit dummies and objets of obscure meaning. The Dirty Ditch, Ivy's happy place, is behind the couch cushions. (The origin of the term is painfully obtuse, but it's all to do with Thomas the Tank Engine, and for a long while there, any time Ivy was addressed, by anybody, she told them, with passion: 'Gordon fell in the dirty ditch.' People were unsure how to reply.)

Teddy fails to shape up as a man of refined sensibilities. He picks up speed by the hour, delights in chewing everything he finds, and his favourite destinations are: the bin, the potty, and the shoe-box. I divert him towards the wonders of the Tupperware drawer.

Ivy, whippet-fast at climbing to any shelf of naughtiness, is caught trying to drink chicken stock, baby panadol and shaking Tic-Tacs into her mouth in a desperate frenzy of badness. Twice.

I retreat, defeated, on the toilet training front after Ivy wets three pairs of jeans by lunchtime. Resign myself to a sea of nappies.

And an ocean of food. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Morning and afternoon tea. Specific, short-order requests. Washing up that grows like a triffid.

And a mountain of laundry.

I think of this couch as the 'triage zone' where the clean washing goes to be sorted, or to die. It mocks me. I post it here, with shame, as a warning to all.

The Wiggles haunt me. I save the DVD to put on as a last resort, I withhold them as punishment, and I coerce Ivy to bed with the book under her pillow. I know I am spending too much time with the Wiggles when a conversation with my sister goes like this:

me: How tight are Anthony's jeans?

sam: I know. And the booty-shaking in the koala song?

me: Yes, but Sam's head-wiggle is worse. He looks...Parkinsonian.

sam: You know he stole that move from the blonde dancer.

me: Yes! You're right. But do you think it would be weird if I danced a hornpipe at the wedding?

Come to think of it, The Wiggles are absurdist theatre too! Me, The Wiggles and Harold Pinter. I guess that's how I roll.

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Thanks for talking to me. I don't got cooties. Oh, except for when I got cooties.