I thought that having Ivy home from Uni and Taylor on the long summer between the end of A levels and the start of Uni would make my life easier with a lot more fun thrown in. It hasn't really turned out that way so far. My work load has increased along with my stress levels. I keep trying to tell them both that this is a really important summer for them - for Ivy it is the springboard to the rest of her life and for Taylor it should be about having new experiences and preparing for Uni life so that when she leaves home, she can hit the ground running. It worries me that they both seem so unmotivated - happy to roll out of bed at 10am and do nothing much.
Having Ivy back to live means that we really need to make the best use of the space we have. I was getting seriously fed up of our front room being cluttered with things Ivy had brought back with her and had yet to unpack and the instruments that had been used for the Junk to Funk Jazz Concert still in disarray. Every time I walked past it depressed me a little bit more. I can only ask so many times before I feel like a nag so I spent the morning sorting it myself as best I could. Some of the rubbish that Ivy had brought back with her from her Uni accommodation was fit only for the bin. She could have saved a lot of trouble by throwing it away when she moved out rather than bringing it all home.
I got a small amount of help from Taylor but she quickly settled down to play the piano, oblivious of the large pile of drum bags that really needed storing away in the loft.
My girls can be wonderful - willing helpers, fantastic company - and I love that. But sometimes I feel like I have to beg them to lift a finger and when they do it is with reluctance bordering on resentment. As today was definitely shaping up to be the latter of these two scenarios, I decided to tackle the drum bags on my own.
The drum bags, when all stacked one inside the other like russian dolls, are quite substantial and wider than the loft hatch. I was halfway up the loft ladder trying to stuff this huge object through a too small hole. My arms and neck were aching and I was far too intent on succeeding to concern myself with the fact that I was very precariously balanced on the ladder. It was inevitable really. I lost my balance, toppled backwards off the ladder and fell with the massive bag on top of me. Our loft hatch is inside our family bathroom. The bath tub was behind me to catch me and cushion my fall slightly. The bump to my head was the hardest, the bumps and bruises on other parts of my body were relatively minor. I got off quite lightly all things considered. Before I had time to realise how shaken I was, I was back up that ladder showing the drum bags who really was boss. I shut the loft hatch and tried to forget the incident had ever happened. The tender lump on my skull was not going to let me.
That afternoon, I had an appointment at our local Community Centre to Give Blood. It has been years since I donated blood and I was looking forward to doing something good that would help others. I was reluctant to leave my two little ones with Ivy and Taylor because of the dark mood of unco-operation that was still hanging in the air, so I took them with me. Little Addy insisted on taking a tiny toy seahorse with her and I didn't have the energy to persuade her otherwise. We walked to the Community Centre that was opposite the Care Home where my daughter Charis was doing work experience. I thought it would be lovely to walk back home with Charis after I had given my pint of A+ and she had finished for the day.
We arrived with plenty of time to spare but the Community Centre was dark and locked.
I felt such an idiot for not checking. There was another Community Centre across town and I hadn't even considered that I might have been heading blindly for the wrong one.
I thought that I might just have enough time, if I hurried, to make it to the other Community Centre in time for my appointment. I set off purposefully in approximately the right direction. Had I known exactly where I was going I might have made it but my route was somewhat convoluted. I was also struggling with the 'hurry' part of the equation, trying to push my son in the pushchair with my daughter riding the buggy board on the back - difficult at the best of times but with the catalogue of minor injuries I had sustained earlier from my accident it was beyond difficult. Time was running out.
I started to feel almost cheerful as I arrived in a part of town that I knew well. I didn't know the exact location of the Community Centre but the road I was headed for was not far and even better, slightly downhill. I would be a few minutes late but it was still doable.
This was the moment when Addy suddenly realised she had dropped her tiny toy seahorse.
She was distraught. I tried to spin a tale of the seahorse on a fantastic adventure making new friends and having a wonderful time but she wasn't buying it. She howled and countered "He can't do that - he's got no legs".
There was only one solution. Retrace our footsteps and try and find the limbless troublemaker.
The toy seahorse was a grubby orange colour, not dissimilar in size and hue to a cigarette butt. I lost count of the times that the discarded remains of someone's nicotine habit offered a glimmer of false hope. Eventually, Addy had a change of heart, resigned herself to the fact that the seahorse was lost forever and asked to go home.
We turned around and headed back
I was now 20 minutes late for my appointment but it was only a little bit out of the way to drop by the Community Centre. As we approached, I could see the the NHS vans parked outside. Although I wasn't able to Give Blood, I was glad to have the chance to apologise for missing my appointment and the lovely man offered me a cup of tea because he could see how frazzled I was.
As we set off for home, my heart felt a little lighter knowing that next month I will have the chance to donate again and this time, I will know the right place to come.
What happened next completely astonished me. On the pathway just ahead was something small and orange. I honestly could not believe my eyes. The tiny toy seahorse was sitting right there as if it had been waiting for us. I am prepared to accept that it was only my imagination that saw a little glint in its tiny seahorse eye.