The problem with promises

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Like a drunk uncle at a wedding we all make promises we have absolutely no intention of keeping, especially if it’s for an event in the distant future.

“Don’t bother booking a taxi, I’ll drive you to the airport and then pick you up when you get” and, “Of course we’ll look after all your kids overnight when you go out on your Christmas do.”

Me and my big mouth. That’s the trouble with promising things months in advance, sometimes people believe you and the favour gets called in. That’s how we ended up making the 100-mile round trip to my sister’s house last Saturday to babysit her three kids aged 12, nine and three.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re great kids. Sparky, independent and opinionated. But in our house we’ve got used to our two teenage daughters who, if they’re not out with friends, working or dancing are doing their own thing (quietly) in their rooms. Apart from the “whump, whump, whump” of daughter #1’s loudspeaker you wouldn’t know she was there. But nothing prepares you for the wall of noise that young kids make. And they can go from peace, love and understanding to all-out war in 10 seconds. There is no volume control. There are no “inside voices”.

Me and the boss are fairly experienced parents. We’ve waded through as much child pee, poo and puke as any of you lot. But that was 10 years-plus ago and now we’re 10-years-plus older and 10-years-plus more knackered.

When we got there my sister’s nine-year-old lad got his 4ft toy crane out, assembled it and then put Pom-Bear crisps on its hook to feed his three-year-old sister. If you ever wondered how long it takes to feed a three-year-old kid a bag of crisps that way, it takes about an hour.

After dinner it was a Doctor Who marathon (ideal preparation for some HD night terrors), a well-earned takeaway curry for the childminders and we called it a night around 10pm.In our house, if left to their own devices, our teenage daughters get up around noon. Little kids do not. By the time my sister and her husband got back from their overnight works do all we wanted to do was crawl back into bed.