Barry Poppins

Last week, I abandoned my children for five straight days and nights.

I didn't fly off to Jamaica to lie on a sunbed sucking up Pina Coladas with a straw whilst poisoning my pure brain cells reading about the latest x-rated shenanigans of Christian Grey and his leather whip. 

Far from it.

I just left to go to work: educating adult professionals in how to master the art of playing the cello.

It was hard work: long hours, few breaks. There was NO opportunity at all to enjoy myself and I absolutely didn't get inebriated on red wine that was sneakily poured from a plastic Coca Cola bottle under the table in the canteen by an 82 year old rascal (genius).

I had no fun at all. I only had three lie- ins, just two afternoon naps,  and I only managed to consume twenty two cups of piping hot coffee.

 It sure was a difficult week.

My husband was left in charge of the kids.

So, let me tell you about my husband.

My husband is the 'Good cop' of the household. He is the player of games and the generous distributor of Haribo. He's a 'yes guy': the one who caves easily, the one who will do anything to keep the peace.

He is the guy who often pops to McDonald's just because it's 'easier' than cooking. He's the leaver-up of toilet seats, the non-loader of dishwashers and the admirer of a full washing basket. He's the one who likes to play chase right before the kids are about to go to bed (which also makes him the 'prolonger' of wine o'clock...if that's even a word)  . 

How would he cope when I was not around?

I'm the 'bad cop' (someone has to be).  I'm the cleaner of toilet seats, the loader/unloader of dishwashers/washing baskets and the enforcer of vegetable consumption.

I'm the rule maker, the dinner baker. I'm the one who gives sweets only when deserved and the one who knows all too well about adhering to the bedtime routine (which makes me the committed preserver of wine o'clock). 

Based on my husband's more relaxed approach to parenting and domesticity, I expected to return last Friday to find a broken man:  a dishevelled, red-eyed zombie with five days worth of wiry stubble protruding from his trembling chin.

I thought I'd find a man who had lost hope, who had given up the fight: a man who had signed his name on the divorce papers and who had bought a one way ticket to Mexico.

I expected the kitchen counters to be covered with dirty plates, bacteria-ridden coffee cups and empty foil take-away containers with yellow Madras oil leaking out of them staining the surfaces.

I expected to see overloaded bins, an empty fridge and a jumbo sized sewer rat parked up on the counter gnawing on a piece of stale Hovis.

I thought the house would resemble a war-zone where dirty washing had collapsed and died over every armrest and every door knob in the place:  toys, wet towels, baby wipes and dirty nappies as far as the eye could see.

I expected my kids to be swinging hysterically on the lampshades after having consumed a lifetime supply of Happy Meals and Haribo with rotting gums, swollen pot bellies and Chicken McNugget grease smeared over their puffy red cheeks.

And most of all, I expected to see greasy, matted hair knowing that my husband wouldn't have had the patience to engage in the daily hair-wash battle alone.

But I was wrong.

What I found was the total opposite.

Our house was immaculate!  There wasn't a jumbo-sized sewer rat to be seen nor a glimpse of an Indian takeaway or Happy Meal box. The washing basket?..empty. The wet towels?...dancing happily on the washing line in the gentle Summer's breeze.

The dishwasher was humming away in harmony to the microwave that was heating up a homemade Shepherd's Pie that he had lifted from the freezer. This was served with sweetcorn which both boys hoovered up without assistance and without the usual protestations of abject disgust.

I even heard the glorious words 'pwease' and 'bankyou' coming from our toddler's mouth.

I couldn't believe it! My jaw hit the floor!!

My husband had nailed it. Not only was he doing my job, but he was doing it better than me!

He is Barry Poppins.

I had no idea.

This fantastic realisation has enabled me to see that perhaps I am not needed as much as I thought. My husband is a worthy substitute and perhaps I needn't do so much in future.

Based on this discovery, I think I may as well use the ticket to Mexico that I found lying on the immaculate kitchen worktop next to the empty box of Pinot Grigio. It would be a shame to waste it and we all know that I could use the break after the exhausting week that I've just had.

I just need to empty a Cola bottle and fill it up with Merlot before my cab to the airport arrives. They say it's always a good idea to keep hydrated when travelling.

Yes, I know. I'm a rascal.


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