Noooo, not that one, although admittedly now I think of it I’d quite like to take a jump to the left, take a step to the riiii-iiii-iii-iii-iii-iight… but I’m in Cafe Nero and I’m not sure the other patrons would appreciate my joie de vivre. The reason for said excitement? I’m OUT. Unencumbered. For ooooh at least another 35 minutes.

I’ve been super efficient – dropped off a charity donation of worn out clothes and abandoned toys, bought a new scarf and a shirt that I don’t need and actually spent time quizzing the shop assistant as to how necessary she thought it was to follow the washing instructions on the shirt. Handwash? Pah, as if! We agreed that the 78% cotton 12% linen mix could withstand a 30 degree wash cycle so I merrily skipped out of the shop having also treated myself to a multi-hued fox-fur bag charm – think pompom that involved killing an animal. I know, I know, it’s not cool, it’s not funny, but my only defence is that my powers of empathy have taken a beating after the last few days of hell-on-earth otherwise known as 2 sick children on my non-work days and over the weekend (for the record there should be a law against this. Illness requiring me to be the caregiver should only ever happen on work days).

The pain has been magnified by the fact that we had managed to engineer ourselves a child-free weekend – The Eldest at Aunty’s, the BSCB at Grandma’s. This had to be abandoned thanks to the mother of all fevers which has so far lasted 5 days in The Eldest, necessitated a 9 hour visit to Accident and Emergency and has now taken the BSCB under it’s sweaty wing. So, for the last 4 days I have had at least one child sat/ lying/ asleep on or next to me 24 hours a day, and have allowed the BSCB to face-plant off the settee, drop the laptop on his foot, and draw all over himself with my lipstick (which I only ever wear on nights out, so basically never, how the eff did he get hold of that?) distracted as I was by my efforts to keep The Eldest, you know, alive. Today is day 5 and while The Eldest is definitely on the mend, she is also a little too ill to pack off to nursery so I’ve had to take the day off work.

Cue amazing parents – mine and the “husband’s” that is, clearly not me – who routinely look after the BSCB and The Eldest to help us keep childcare costs down amongst other reasons. More to follow on that arrangement in another post but yes, I do know how lucky I am. Anyway, the Mother-in-Law (MiL) arrived this morning as usual to look after the BSCB which meant I could concentrate on The Eldest who was lurching between being a dancing, chatting loon who could not have looked less ill (annoying), and a feverish, droopy-eyed moaning mess who’s only decipherable word was “Noooooooo” (more annoying, especially as the fact she was ill made me feel even more guilty about the level of non-patience to which I had descended). Now, I’ve been a secondary school teacher for 12 years and I like to think I’ve developed fairly impressive levels of patience but seriously the last few days have sucked me dry. Fortunately, after a flurry of WhatsApp messages in which I self-indulgently declared my desire to have a few minutes, or an hour, or just 10 seconds, when no one would touch me, or say “mummy”, or wipe some unknown substance across my clothes which would inevitably dry and leave me looking like I had fallen asleep on a slug’s super-highway, my parents arrived earlier than usual. And I escaped.

So, with 6 minutes to go until I need to get back home I can get back to The Time Warp. Nope, still not that one. I’m talking about the fact that nothing is more likely to make time go into some sort of Star Trek-esque-warp-speed-ahead-Scotty-what-the-eff-it-can’t-be-that-time-already-other-worldy-some-sort-of-time-bending-phenomenom than giving a parent some time off. We dream of it. We salivate at the thought of what we could do with an hour of unencumbered time. We draw up mental lists and we then panic at the passing of every minute. We never achieve everything on our lists and we never get round to that moment that we fantasised about in the run-up to the time off (there is nearly always a run-up, today was an exception – these things generally take planning) when we sit down and read a newspaper, or a magazine, or actually have a conversation that is not a transaction of who is doing what, or feeding who, or when is it the BSCB’s nap time? We never get there. And we should. Because aside from the morale-boosting effects of actually taking a moment to do THE Time Warp, acknowledging this Time Warp might mean we aim to do less, and just “be” more. Not revolutionary, I know, but sometimes I need to remind myself of the importance of just stopping and breathing out my thoughts onto a blank page. I probably should have marked some essays and sent some emails in the last 90 minutes but I’m glad I sat down, wrote this, and became an accessory to the murder of a poor defenceless animal, because just for a few minutes I feel like an actual person again. Now I’ve got to go – I’m four minutes late.

In the interests of honesty, I actually wrote this a few weeks ago. Then forgot about it.