What we needed was something quiet, something familiar and comforting, something we could do together whilst chatting amiably on the sofa, whiling away the hours of an unseasonably gloomy day. Pom-poms. We'd make a pom-pom. My mum used to do that with me. I must have been about Rory's age. Such a relaxing activity.
Now it just so happens that I had a bag of leftover bits of wool waiting to be used up, so we were all set. Here is a tutorial for those of you that wish to experience the same tranquility:
1. Locate cardboard. You will have to fish some out of the bin, I expect.
3. Allow child to choose first colour of wool. Tie end of wool around the two cardboard circles that you have placed on top of each othe...oh FFS, I really can't be bothered to tell you how to make a pom-pom. There's a reason I'm not a craft blogger, and that reason is that I can't be fannied. Go and look at this one that someone's kindly done on Wikihow.
4. So, we've skipped to the point where your child is winding the wool around the cardboard.
5. Untangle child's fingers.
6. Untangle child's fingers.
7. Untangle wool.
8. Untangle child's fingers and wool.
9. Demonstrate yet again how to wind wool around a pissing bit of card, it's not hard is it?
10. Untangle child's fingers.
11. "OK, I'LL DO THE FIRST LAYER, YOU WATCH."
12. (20 boring minutes later) "There now, so you see, once you've got the hang of going OVER and UNDER, it's really easy, here, you just do this last bit and..."
13. Untangle child's fingers.
14. Get child to choose second colour. Tie on to first colour and use gentle, encouraging voice to help them to build the confidence to try again: "That's it, over and under, over and under...no, you've got to pull the thread round to keep the winding close together, then over and under, over and under, over and...OH MY GOD, PULL THE THREAD ROUND. PULL THE THREAD ROUND. I JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT'S SO FUDGING DIFFICU...No. No. I mean, that's very good. Well done darling"
15. Send child off to find the scissors while you unwind everything they've done and do it again properly. Pom-pom making is a precise art with no room for error.
16. Pull self together and try to locate calm and encouraging voice again, but child is now wise to you and doesn't want to make a pom-pom any more.
17. Little do they know, they will be making the bastard thing whether they want to or not. If it takes 3 days and you lose all your hair in the process, they will still make and finish a pom-pom. You will not fail.
18. Choose colour number 3. Set them off again, heavily supervising to avoid unnecessary tangling. this works quite well, but does not allow you to do anything else at the same time, such as send text saying "God I'm bored" to your friend.
19. Realization that this is not the calm, idyllic craft activity of your imagination hits at the same time that you notice that the bright orange quadruple loop Hotwheels track that's overtaken your living room is doing your head in, that the massive hole in your sofa seat cushion has doubled in size and that you are, in fact, living in squalor.
20. Tension. Disappointment in self. Repressed anger at child for being a bit cack-handed as feels like a symbol of everything else in life that you've failed to do in your years as a mother and housewife. House still a tip despite best efforts, chicken nuggets for tea, hole in bathroom wall, no money until pay day, child can't make a pom-pom. It's all bad.
21. Have to abandon pom-pom attempt as feeling a bit tearful.
22. Leave child in front of telly while you bash out emotional email to husband which contains the words "squalid", "failure", "going mental" and "pom-pom" far more times than should be necessary.
23. Pause with finger on mouse, hovering over 'send' as you think of husband's working day being interrupted by insane email from wife, and of his thought process thereafter, which will involve memories of pulling all-nighters, getting drunk on cocktails and engaging in riveting conversation with his slender, glamorous wife in a lifetime long ago. Now wife is sitting at computer snivelling into third round of toast and wearing a pair of jeans with a paint stain on and the top button undone, unable to cope with the emotional strain of making a little fluffy ball of wool with a four year old.
24. Delete email.
25. Steel self.
26. Return to hole-ridden sofa and recommence making pom-pom, doing most of it yourself, but occasionally giving it to child for them to do a bit. You will NOT swear. You will NOT swear. OK, you will ONLY swear in your head.
27. Finished. Cut round the edge of wool and remove the cardboard to enraptured "ooohs" and "aaahhhs" from child. Success. Sort of. You have a pom-pom. Child is disproportionately impressed or maybe just humouring you. "What do you actually do with a pom-pom, Mummy?" asks adorable, tolerant child with huge wide eyes. Fuck knows darling. Fuck knows.