je suis fini - sept 2011

The logistics of getting myself to the photographers studio at 7am to start a two-day shoot was no small feat. I have two young kids at different schools with different dismissal times, a nanny to fill the gaps, a husband who travels like a flight attendant and a big black dog. In short, a half day of meticulous planning with a rental car pick-up thrown in the mix for good measure.

After a long 12 hours making movie theatre food look good, I arrived home with no spring left in my step, an alarming realization that I hadn’t peed all day, and a sense of distilled panic that I still had fake ice-cream to craft for the next day.

My kids ran to greet me with their usual welcoming vigor and everything seemed worthwhile. We had half an hour to chit-chat before bed time. George told me with great pride that he’d been using one of his new phrases at school – “Je suis fini. It means that I’m finished mum”. George typically divulges very little to nothing about his school days so this was a big moment for me. Ruby on the other hand will relay her day with painstaking detail – “then I threaded a blue bead shaped like a heart, and then a long green one, and then….”. Distraction was the only way to get things moving at the pace needed to get the bloody ice-cream done and a little shut-eye.

So the three of us headed to the kitchen to measure and mix the ingredients for the ice-cream. Knowing how pernickety the job is, we made a triple batch recipe. My kids now sticky, greasy and slightly dusted white I took them up to bed so I could take care of the scooping, barking (texture) and skirting (the bit around the bottom of the scoop) details in peace.

I returned to the kitchen about 20 minutes later to find that the dog had eaten the ice-cream mixture.  All of it. One and a half cups Crisco, the same of corn syrup, a drop of food colouring and about three pounds of powdered sugar. Mother. Of. God.

After two unsuccessful neighbour calls to scrounge more powered sugar, I got on making the one batch I had ingredients for. It was never going to be enough. I needed choice for the next day, different barking, different sized scoops, more vanilla bean detail, less vanilla bean detail, bigger skirts, rougher skirts, smoother skirts….. Oh well, ‘it is what it is’, I kept deliriously chanting to myself. With the last scoop almost complete, the dog simultaneously let out a great moan and a giant fart.

“Get away” was the best I could do with one eye brow raised. At this she moaned again and headed to the landing at the top of the stairs.

With the kitchen cleaned and my not-so-stellar scoops safely stored in the oven I checked my e-mail for the first time that day. There was a chain of messages from my fellow room parents of Ruby’s class about the hideous task of telling other parents what shift they have been assigned to work at the Family Fun Fest. It’s suggested that the four of us divide and conquer the parent hit-list so as not to tarnish just one room parent as the whip-cracker. The dog and I moan together.

FFF has a ‘if you don’t choose your shift, then we will’ sort of approach to it with communications uncharacteristically curt. But, I’ve deduced that this is the only way you’ll actually get people to the FFF so I’ll take the same curt approach. My short email goes something like this, ” Hi, you’ve been assigned to man the snow cone station from 5.30 to 6pm. If you can’t do it, find somebody who will and let me know who that is. Thanks.” My e-mail bings with a instantaneous response from one of the parents: “I’m out of town, can you find someone else?” Moan again. Eh no, no I fuckin’ can’t.

It’s 11pm. The dog is now heaving and pacing on the landing and before I can grab her, she is puking a waterfall of white chunks, the whole bowl of water she must have guzzled, stomach acid and expanded kibbles down the stairs. It’s flowing rapidly down each and every stair, over the edge of the stairs, down the walls and pooling in the hallway floor . “OUT, GET OUT!” I’m shouting while bounding up the vomit covered steps, trying to catch her before more comes. “OUT!!” I wrestle her down the steps and muscle her out the back door. And then I feel like crying.

A few deep breaths and I go back in to start the clean up.  Cursing my husbands absence, I start with the hallway pool. Sensing a presence I look up. Ruby is sitting on the top stair bleary-eyed and blissfully unaware of what she’s sitting in. “I’m all wet mummy.”

And I think Je suis fini.