It’s been very long…
since we stepped foot outside our gate. Very long. We’ve been in isolation for about ten days prior to the corona lockdown. I stocked up too well. Would’ve been nice to at least have a good reason to go to a shop. I am starting to forget what it’s like outside. Everything happens in here.
And it’s a jungle in here.
The two older boys slept in their living room fort last night. They argued with me when I warned that it won’t be comfortable. I decided that some lessons need to be learned first-hand.
The eldest got up around midnight. His fort bed was too hard and too small. He should’ve done that math when he constructed his bed from a bench cushion half his size. I explained that he made that choice, should see it through, and not leave his younger brother to sleep alone down in the fort. Our house is old and the living room can be quite scary in the dark. But it was midnight. I wanted to get back to sleep and didn’t put much effort in to convince him. He went to sleep in his own bed. I stayed awake. The angel on my left shoulder said I should carry the middle child to his bed now. The devil on my right shoulder said I should cross my fingers and hope he doesn’t wake up during the night. I quickly turned over onto my left shoulder, crossed my fingers, counted some sheep, and went back to sleep. Not for long. (Karma for not listening to the angel?) The fort child woke up with a stiff neck, which needed rubbing. He is a middle child and is naturally better at following instructions. I sent him to bed without a rub. Wanted to add “I told you so”, but he was already down the hallway, so I just mumbled the words to myself.
It’s barely dawn. The youngest child is up. (Karma for not rubbing?) He wants to play Mario Brothers, two players. I try to find something he’s willing to watch on tv (other than Blaze or Peppa Pig) while I plan to nod off unnoticed. We scroll through the entire Netflix library. He instructs me on how to move up and down and up again, two more to the left, one up, down more, more, more… He chooses sing-along songs. Too early. I choose Peppa Pig. I realise I’m better off getting a head start in the kitchen.
I suddenly have a huge craving for hertzoggies (coconut jam tarts). My husband mentioned it yesterday. Maybe I’m feeling sorry for myself for being up so early. Maybe hertzoggies can be the consolation price for always drawing the short straw when a child wakes up early. I feel relief – I have self-permission to indulge. I also feel panic. Cravings during lockdown should correspond with ingredients available. I know we don’t have coconut, but there should be some stale-ish leftover lunchbox-stash coconut pieces, which I can grind down. I’ll improvise if anything else is short. No turning back now. Anyway, it was irresponsible to plan a healthy diet during isolation. There’ll be plenty of time and better reasons to do so after lockdown. Sure, there’ll be those that emerge from lockdown slimmer and fitter. We’re divided into groups – the ones with dedication, energy and stamina, and the ones with kids. Some stand with a leg each in both groups, but they’re special. Besides, it’s not a competition. I love myself the way I am and the rest of the world cannot see me right now. If I’m cornering myself to make worthy choices, I’d rather look after myself emotionally today.
The recipe says 24 hertzoggies. That’s a lot. I find two mismatched muffin pans. Both are stained. I pull my shirt over my thumb, wet it in my mouth, and rub at the stains. If they don’t come off now, they won’t come off on my hertzoggies. I’m safe. No need to scrub the pans.
The early waker wants to help. I sing the Peppa Pig Muddy Puddle song to try divert his attention back to the television. I was looking forward to a little alone time. But my eager helper elf wants to break the eggs. The yolks and whites need to be separated. There’s a bit of a mix-up, but it should be fine. I blend the coconut pieces until fine. There’s not enough. I substitute the rest by blending some almonds I picked out of a bag of mixed nuts. We finally get to the ‘play dough’ part of rolling out the dough and cutting circles. The helper elf loses interest and tells me to “be my own handy helper for a change”. I pretend to be disappointed, but am relieved that it’ll go quicker now. It’s almost time to make breakfast and then it’ll be downhill from there.
It’s a messy business.
The dough sticks to the board. I add more flour. There’s a draught through the kitchen window and the flour blows a thin white layer over most of the kitchen appliances. And the handy helper is back. He wants to scoop the jam into the dough cups. He comments on how wobbly and yucky it is. I make the mistake of telling him it’s like sugar jelly. He licks the spoon. His eyes narrow. He produces a slow motion smile that I can only describe as wicked, although it doesn’t quite fit the scene. He licks every spoon before it goes into the cups. I put fourteen hertzoggies in the oven – ten less than what the recipe said.
The rest of the family is up. It’s obvious that everyhone had less sleep than required.
I instantly switch from baker to breakfast maker. The kids have been keeping track of the number of bacon packets and know there’s one left. Yes, let’s indulge further. I loudly mention that we’re short on eggs and I’ll have to go without one, because of the ridiculous internet challenge in which my husband partook. I don’t mention the number of eggs used by this morning’s unnecessary baking. Breakfast is finally on the table. There are no chairs. They’re still holding up the roofs of the fort. Best excuse to break up the fort. The kids are too hungry to argue.
I forgot about the hertzoggies in the oven. I sample one. It’s too hot. Too dry. The dough is too thick. That’s where the ten missing hertzoggies went. I should’ve rolled the dough out much thinner. Whatever. I eat three for breakfast.
I spin the morning’s washing for a second time to make sure it’s extra dry. I eat a fourth hertzoggie while watching the machine. It’s mesmerizing. Maybe it’s the sugar rush I’m feeling. I ponder over a few important decisions – should I hang out or throw in the dryer, should I wash the rest before or after home schooling, should I just eat all the hertzoggies today or risk them getting any less edible by tomorrow. I take out the washing. It’s completely dry. Not like well-spinned dry, like never-washed-dry. I’ve been spinning dirty, dry washing. Turns out I’m not as stupid with the start / pause button as I thought. There is something wrong with the washing machine. No washing today then. Instead, I’ll do something that’ll actually make a difference for longer than a day. The kids need a haircut.
I set up a salon in the shower – little stool for the customer and all.
I call the little one first. I make a huge fuss about playing salon-salon. I give him a R10 note to pay me with for his haircut. He doesn’t want to hand over the money and we decide to change the rules. I’ll pay him R10 to cut his hair.
I make a small ponytail on top of his head and cut it straight off. Not too bad. If I go with ‘funky short’, I can’t go too wrong. He itches. I give him a make-up brush to brush himself off. It keeps him busy for a few seconds. I hand him a black marker to draw on the shower panel. He presses too hard and dents in the tip. He rubs at it with his finger and gets upset because his finger is black and it’s not coming off, ever. His focus is back at what I’m doing and he is sure I’m going to cut off his right ear. No promise works. I give up and let him leave the salon with half a haircut. I ask for my R10 back. He runs.
I call in the older two. Pretty much the same story. The youngest is back, waving his R10 note, bragging about his hundred rand money. The middle one wants to know why he is not getting paid. I avoid further negotiations and instigate a Minecraft quiz. He falls for it and bombards me with random Minecraft questions, which I answer based on his tone. I get most right. He is so impressed that he barely notices that I’m cutting his hair.
The eldest is wiser. He wants to set a price before sitting down. His price is so high that I want to laugh to make a point, but it’s not funny and I’m over it. I just order him to sit and state that it’ll be without any form of compensation or any opinion about the style I choose (or end up with). I roll my eyes through attempts of “you can’t make me”, “I’m old enough to decide”, “you are going to ruin my hair forever” and more. I finally admit that his reputation is directly linked to his hair style and promise to take him to a real salon as soon as lockdown is over, if it turns out completely horrendous. He sits. He is actually well behaved like that. I make sure to often mention how I enjoy spending this quality time with him and how I appreciate that he allows me to cut his hair. His bottom lip sticks out so far that it catches some falloff hair. I give up before completely suffocating him.
Another to-do done. Another thing I miss during lockdown added to my list. And the results are not too bad.
Very appropriate for jungle folk anyway.