Sorrel, who's only 5, has not been well. She's had a hacking cough and a cold for most of the half term holiday. Yesterday however she climbed Arthur's Seat.
For those of you unfamiliar with Edinburgh, we are blessed with a mountain in the centre of town. Not the one the castle sits on. A much bigger one. Arthur's Seat is an 820 ft high extinct volcano and something of a right of passage for the young citizens of Edinburgh. Either you've walked up it or you haven't.
Well, yesterday, she did.
This morning is a different matter. This morning she is tired. This morning is the first day back at school after a week off. This morning she will have her revenge.
Helen is working an overnight shift tonight (starts at 10pm...finishes at 10am) so she needs to lie in. It's up to me, then, to get the girls up and dressed. Sorrel has trotted through and climbed into our bed in the middle of the night. She does not want to get up.
"Uh!" she grunts at me. "UH!"
Lulu in contrast is sitting up in her own bed reading.
"Can I just finish my chapter, Daddy? I'll get dressed and come downstairs after."
Well OK... I go back to Sorrel. "Come on Sweetie. Leave Mummy to sleep for a bit."
She glares at me. "Where are my SLIPPERS???"
"I expect they're downstairs."
"Um. No. Not if you're going to speak to me like that. Now why don't you come and get dressed?"
"No! I want to go downstairs first!!!"
"Well, come downstairs and you can get your slippers when you're down there"
We go downstairs. She curls up in an armchair in the corner of the kitchen.
"I'll go and get you some clothes," I say gently.
"NO!!! I WANT BREAKFAST FIRST!!!"
I sigh. "OK. What would you like?"
"I DON'T KNOW!!! STOP ASKING!!!!"
I explain that we have 45 minutes in which she has to get dressed, have breakfast and have her hair and teeth brushed. At this point Lulu arrives in the kitchen, dressed and smiling. She asks for some toast.
"Would you like some toast, Soz?" I ask as I pop a slice in the toaster.
She sighs the sigh of a labourer who has been heaving a vast sack of despair up a ladder only to find there is nowhere to put it when he reaches the top.
" I hate toast," she informs the world in general.
"How about some bread and jam?" I suggest, astonished at the deep well of patience I am currently tapping.
"OOOOHHHHH!" she groans as if longing for the day that I would grow old and die, finally brining an end to this incessant round of ludicrous questions. "Is there ANY strawberry?" she growls in the tone of one who knows the person she is speaking to is an utter cretin who can't keep strawberry jam in the house to save his idiotic, miserable life. And on learning that there is, "OK. Bread and jam then. But NO BUTTER!!!"
A moment later I place a slice of bread and strawberry jam on the table. She drags herself out of the armchair and over to the table. She hauls herself onto the chair. She stares, incredulous, at the plate in front of her.
"Where's my TOAST!!!???"
The rest of the morning is not much better. She cries when I suggest she wears her new boots ("They're too bummfully") and then cries for them when I appear with her shoes. ( "Oh no! NOT my shoes!") She complains, loudly, that the clothes I have fetched from upstairs have not been warmed on the radiator. She screams, punching my leg repeatedly, as I very gently brush her hair.
She weeps bitter tears of frustration when she realises that this morning, as every morning, we'll be walking to school. ("What's the point of having a car if we never use the car?!?!?!).
It's frosty outside so I insist on gloves being worn ("Gloves??? NOT gloves!!!! Waaaaaaaaaahhh!!!")
When Helen picks her up later she cries and moans all the way home but insists on going the long way round because she knows it's shorter. Even though she needs a wee. And it isn't.
By the time I arrive home at six she's wrapped herself in a blanket and gone to sleep without eating any tea.
To the doctor's tomorrow, I think....