Holidays are over. Normal service has resumed: wake dustbin lids earlier than they want; run around like headless chickens stuffing lunchboxes, finding uniforms, homework etc until the lids go to their various institutions. Then the day really begins: dash to work, dash round the supermarket, dump car at home, collect lids, keep the peace, cook, do laundry, taxi them about. And smile. Miss them during the day like a love-sick puppy. For all of three minutes.
I like the holidays. You can sleep in. You don’t have to be anywhere. You can ride bikes. You can play in the park for ages. You can go swimming. And freeze. And not clock watch. And half freeze to death on the beaches of Suffolk even though the rest of the country is enjoying a freak heat wave.
Gorgeous boy’s bike is too small for him, so he rides the tweenager’s and she rides mine. I run along behind the Little One shouting encouragement. Last week I got a tad fed up with this so went off in search of new wheels for the lad.
Needing instant gratification we couldn’t wait three days for the sports shop to build one and they won’t sell ‘em flat packed. Halfords tried to sell me a flat pack and couldn’t get why I wouldn’t part with dosh on a bike in a box of which we had no idea of size or, more importantly, style.
Finally surrendered to the hell of Toys R Us and was shocked to find an adult sales assistant who knew his biking onions. Only half an hour later gorgeous boy, the little one and myself struggled across the car park with a large flat pack.
My marriage is a partnership with distinct divisions of labour: I give birth and deal with all emotional issues: He understands instructions and tools and does all the building stuff. But the Tweenager has feminist leanings, so as not to appear completely useless I emptied the box (difficult in itself) and studied the instructions, after all He-who-must-be-adored was doing a martyrish long shift saving London.
After 20 minutes discussion gorgeous boy decisively showed us the tools needed (despite our feminist leanings neither Tweenager nor I know the names of tools other than hammer and even I could tell that wasn’t needed).
Line one of the instructions stated that if you have nuts on the front wheel remove them. Tweenager, gorgeous boy and I struggled with spanners and wrenches for ages and finally dislodged the nuts and all the ball bearing things fell on the floor. We agreed this was a bad thing. Resisting the temptation to bash the bike to buggery with a hammer, we tied the bolts back up, left the bits of bike on the kitchen floor and went to watch telly whilst awaiting the return of He-who-must-be-adored.
We were all very keen to go on a bike ride the next day so didn’t think 10pm was too late to ask a man to build a bike. Surely its better to get these sort of jobs out of the way before you go to bed? He-who-must-be-adored did that shaky head thing that my father used to do. I decided this was not a good sign. When He asked why on earth we’d undone the bolts I went to tackle the urgent laundry and left the lids to explain. (It was their idea to have a go, when you’ve got 6 brothers and a husband why would you even try?)
From the laundry I heard him ask whether the ball bearings had fallen out. At this point I remembered some other urgent business upstairs so didn’t hear the response. By the time I came down the bike was built and the gorgeous boy was riding, in the dark, up and down the street with He supervising. Normal service was resumed.
At bedtime the Tweenager whispered to me that the nuts the instructions referred to were for transporting purposes and our front wheel didn’t have any of them. And how the hell were we supposed to just ‘know’ these things?
By the end of the following day I never wanted to ride a bike ever again. I had saddle sores and was grateful when Gorgeous Boy got a flat tyre so I could wheel his home whilst he rode mine. Think I preferred running along behind.