If this is a sign of things to come for this summer holiday I think I may have to go AWOL. Today I took my two older boys out for the day, I didn't even have the twins in tow as my gorgeous nanny is working her last week before taking a month off to go home and see her family, and I am still fit to drop.
It is not that my sons are hard to take care of, it is the constant bickering that wears you down. They cannot have a conversation without it turning into a dispute. Should one declare that the sky is blue, the other will instantly jump in with a supercilious observation that actually if you look closely it is more of a muted white today.
The instant I take a seat there is a battle for boy supremacy as to who will take the coveted seat next to me. I used to be flattered by this, but now I am just exhausted by their constant jockeying for position. It is less about sitting next to me, and more about getting one over on your brother.
I imagine this is simply how small males relate. They are just like tiny loin cubs play fighting, or young male stags locking antlers, but at least in the wild their poor mothers can lay prone or wander off, leaving their young to it. I on the other hand am cast in the unwilling role of referee. Although I think that title is somewhat misleading, implying as it does that they listen to a word I say.
I am forever trying to get them to behave in some semblance of a civilised manner, but my efforts are in vain. They cannot speak at any volume other than ear splitting, which means that whenever we are in public I am forever shushing them. Sit them at a table and they are instantly wriggling and sliding off their chairs. Give them a drink and they are blowing noisy bubbles in it, dipping their hands into it and flicking it across the table, or knocking it onto the floor with a splintering crash.
Food is there to be played with, or eaten in the most gross manner possible. I don't think I have ever eaten out with my five-year-old without making intimate acquaintance with each morsel of food he is masticating as he is physically incapable of silence, even if his mouth is stuffed to the gunnels with grub. While even the seven-year-old thinks nothing of spitting out anything he doesn't like onto his plate in a globulous mess of half eaten goo.
Anyone would think they had been dragged up, when in reality I have drummed into them the importance of table manners from an early age. But like all men they are deaf to female nagging and all my admonishments float gently in one ear and out of the other, without making the slightest impression.
To be quite honest they can be an embarrassment to be seen with. I would be tempted to pretend that I am only the nanny apart from the fact that (a) I don't come across as half as competent and (b) the boys will insist on calling me mummy all the time.
Perhaps I should view the summer holidays are my chance to work on improving their behaviour, but with four of them to cope with just surviving might be challenge enough in itself.