Why is 5.30-6pm the busiest time in our house?
It starts with, "Mum, I'm hungry!"
No - I lie - it is never so polite. It's more like:
"Mu-um ... I'm staarrrving!" (with added whine and moan factor).
Although my favourite bit is when this is followed by my daughter saying, "My tummy's rumberling."
So, clearly, at this point I have to put my vague thoughts about what we are going to eat into practice. Yesterday I was running a little late, due to the electricians messing around with the power all afternoon, so went for quick-and-easy oven chips, veg and the leftover roast beef.
No sooner had I put the chips in the oven when there was a knock on the front door. To my surprise it was a friend from my writing group, wanting to know if I'd recommend my builders. She didn't know it was my house but had been watching its progress over the last few months. (She and half the village, I am picking up. Someone told me they thought it was being made into an old people's home. How disappointing my screaming children will seem!) Clearly she also hasn't read this blog post, or she'd never have asked. Anyway, she came in and we chatted and I learnt about her house with marble floors and meeting Saddam Hussain and other things that really stop you thinking about cooking dinner.
Until, of course, you hear the whine from the children again. "Mummy - my tummy's rumberling."
Hopefully not too rudely I encouraged my friend out of the front door and rushed back to put the food onto plates. Cold beef first ... then the phone rings. It is my husband checking when he's supposed to be home so I can go to a meeting. Seven o'clock. Yes, stop work now and get a move on!
I return to the table to dish up the vegetables - only for the mobile to ring. My friend is dropping something off before going to the aforementioned meeting - is that ok? Yes, yes... any time is fine. (Obviously apart from right now. There are tummies rumberling.)
With some manic screaming from me, the children drag themselves away from the television (even rumbly tums are less important than Pokemon) and we settle to eat the now somewhat cool food.
Then all I have to deal with is both children talking at the same time, to and across each other and me: a constant barrage of noise. There's no such thing as a quiet tea at our house.