We had a lovely lunch out yesterday with my Mum, one of my sisters and her husband. It was such a beautiful day - you could believe Spring would come again, after all - and then we called to see my eccentric Grandma, who lives alone. She was in remarkably high spirits, sitting by her four bar gas fire with them all turned up high. We surreptitiously stripped layer after layer of clothing off, but every time I tried to turn the fire down, she rounded on me with a shriek of: 'What are you doing? It's awful shivery in here! Don't do that, I'm begging you.' In the end Mum had to crack open the back door to let a draught in.
We headed home just in time for tea; we said goodbye to Mum and I had my mind already organising the pasta bake, and putting away the bit of shopping we'd done...but when I was balancing all three children and the bags at the top of our steep front steps, I discovered that I had no key.
In an instant the full horror unfolded; I hadn't locked up when I left because Ste was at home, but now he was an hour's drive away, at work, until three am. I felt sure the key had been in my handbag when I left, but after checking three times, I had to admit I must have been mistaken. Our front door is only a couple of months old, and I hadn't yet given anyone a spare key to it; we've not really used it until now, and that's only because the beginnings of the extension are blocking access to the back door.
The only ray of hope was that Mum has a back door key...but I knew we'd left a key in the back lock, not expecting to use that door for the next six weeks or so. (Isn't hindsight a wonderful thing? It could've got us through this sticky situation in no time).
In the end, we fed the children a meagre meal of spaghetti hoops on toast while we searched for Mum's spare back door keys (no mean feat in itself, as it turned out, but we sniffed them out in the end). Then there was the saga of trying to toast bread under Mum's 'new' grill - she's only had it for four months, and didn't know how to use it. After teasing her about that, I had to eat my words; every time we lit it and released the knob, it switched itself off again. I thought we were all going to be gassed, but at last we cracked it. Then off we went, back to my house, with Mum watching the children in the car, while I wiggled and jiggled the key furiously in the back door, and threw myself bodily at it. The only discernable effect this had was that I looked quite silly (nothing new there), and attracted the neighbours' attention. (Which is, I suppose, quite reassuring).
So we ended up sleeping at Mum's. The older children had to wear the baby's nappies, and shared a bed. Luckily, they were so tired, they went out like lights. They all wore t-shirts that didn't fit from Nan's spare clothes box; the baby wore one of Rhianna's though he kept plucking at it in what I imagined was disgust because it was pink. The four year old was so disgruntled by all the unnatural happenings of the day that he wouldn't eat his hoops on toast, then kept waking in the night, and wouldn't eat breakfast this morning, either (the wrong spoon, apparently).
All my school work went undone; it was worse than when there's a powercut, because not only does my Mum only have four tv channels (yes, just four; channel five hasn't yet reached this neck of the woods) and no computer, but all my reading material was still locked safely away at home. At least I had an early night.
The worst thing was that I was so angry with myself. (Not a good example to set to the children). I was livid that I hadn't double-checked I had a key; that I hadn't left the key out of the back door; that I hadn't given mum the spare front door key already. (Aren't mistakes wonderful for teaching you things?) I was so angry I ate lots of chocolate, and I was still blaming myself this morning. Until I walked through the front door, and started to look for the key. I had been sure it was in my bag, but now knew it ought to be lying on the arm of the sofa, or on top of the trunk we use as a coffee table. Only, it wasn't. In a moment of renewed despair I wondered if it had fallen out at the restaurant - what a nuisance! And then I found it, posted beneath the cushions of the leather sofa, in a place where it wouldn't have fallen on its own. Hmm. The fourth lesson I've learnt: don't ever leave the keys near the baby.....