Squeezing is something I do a lot of.
Toothpaste squeezing (for little girls), squeezing thighs and bum into lycra (for me), squeezing legs into tights and feet into wellies (toddlers again), squeezing in time to go for a run or a bike ride or a swim or just squeezing in half an hour to do something for myself that doesn’t involve horses or children.
The more I come to think about it, the more my life seems to be one big squeeze. Just take the first hour or so of the day…
Tomorrow morning, I will wake up squeezed firmly between Violet (5) and Troll (3) who will have climbed into our bed during the night. I know this because they have done it every night since they were ejected from our bed (I say ejected but it was a very half-hearted ejection in Marigold’s case and Violet’s “ejection” consisted of making her lie down in a cot at the end of our bed for about 12 minutes one night three years ago until her pitiful crying and bereft expression won her her place back in the “family” bed. She is a very sensitive soul but can be very determined when she wants and she has steadfastly and resolutely resisted all attempts to persuade her even to consider the notion that her nocturnal place in the world might be somewhere other than squeezed in between mummy and daddy).
I should say now that Jon will probably also be squeezed in there somewhere but he long since retreated to the other end of the bed. Yes, we often sleep top to toe in our house, a bit like the family in the Willie Wonka film. Jon occasionally mutters darkly about the sleeping arrangements and sometimes growls noisily and grumpily in the middle of the night when one of the girls “checks he is there” with their sharp toe nails but he does not seem to mind too much providing I make sure that Annie Hound does not also join our little club.
So I start my day by un-squeezing myself as quietly as possible from the bed in the hope of squeezing in five minutes to myself and avoiding making husband more grumpy by waking him up. I then go into the kitchen and squeeze around 6 items into 5 packed lunch boxes. This sometimes involves emptying out the previous day’s partially eaten lunches and squeezing them into an over-flowing bin. I do this knowing with absolute certainty that Jon will moan about the bin-cram at some point during the day but, at this point in my pre-bus stop -pre-mucking out schedule, I choose to ignore the thought and squeeze away.
Squeezing things into bags is usually next on the list, swimming kits into swimming bags, PE kits into PE bags, letters that i should have signed and returned two weeks ago, into book bags. Next it is breakfast time, OK not much squeezing here, except when we’ve nearly used up all the bread and i have to squeeze the crusts between both palms to make them thin enough to squeeze into the toaster (they still usually burn and set the fire alarm off though, so this squeezing is probably a waste of energy and the complete squeezing-squeezing-burning-binning process almost certainly has a “carbon footprint” the size of Alaska. I’m explaining this on the off chance that carbon footprints are on your high-concerns list, they are not on my list… in fact i’m not sure that i have or have ever had a high-concerns list.
When i open the outside door, which leads to the “shoe and coat” cupboard, Annie-hound (who sleeps in this room) always attempts a quick and sneaky run-and-squeeze through gap in the door to go and say good morning to the tribe, rather than go out in the cold for her wee.
Squeezing Violet and Troll into their tights, squeezing out toothpaste, squeezing Clyde’s massive school bag out of the tiny living room window when he has forgotten it and is late for the bus.
However, I am not the only one doing the squeezing. Troll loves to use the opportunity afforded by the close contact required to help her get dressed to sneak a quick but firm squeeze of my boobs. She has always had a thing about my boobs – other children have dummies or blankets – for Troll, only my boobs are good enough. She knows they are off limits (mostly) and that she is too big to touch them now but this doesn’t deter her – it just ensures she has an especially naughty grin on her face as she makes a grab for them.
When Rose and Clyde have left for their bus, it’s time to squeeze Violet and Troll into their coats. Daisy does hers herself but would happily let me do it for her too if I would. Troll does not strictly need to come on the bus-stop walk as Jon is at home (squeezing in an extra hour of sleep, may i add!) but, usually, she insists (having woken up the moment I get out of bed).
After all four children are safely on their way to school, I take Troll to Granny’s house (which is quicker than it sounds, as Granny lives next door!). Eight out of ten times we will get to Granny’s door and Troll will plead and beg to stay with me for a bit longer, in the form of: “Me help hay horses tiny bit?” and so, she will come to “help” me for 10 minutes.
I’m sure you are thinking that we spoil her and she gets her own way all the time (and you’d be right) but, although she is hopelessly unhelpful at horsing right now (and just having her on the yard means I need eyes in the back of my head and to repeat the phrase “don’t go near the black horse’s stable” endlessly), my excuse is that i am subtly imprinting her for teenage mucking out duties…
Haying or rather haylaging, which is our forage of choice in the winter, takes about 20 minutes and Troll usually gets cold hands after 5 minutes because she likes to dip them in the yard water trough. I often have to squeeze out her gloves before hanging them on Granny’s radiator, when I drop her off.
When troll “insists” on something, it is usually much easier to go along with it – unless she is trying to eat something poisonous or wants to show her bum to someone over the age of 75, life is too short for the resulting argument (I must admit to having failed on this last example in the past but that’s another story)…
The squeezing in my life is not all bad though. Our beautiful basset hound Annie loves to be squeezed and cuddled and she is probably the most squeezed dog in all of history. She enjoys fuss so much that she groans out loud when she is stroked. I also spend a good deal of my time sitting on the sofa with a pile of children laying on and around me, all wanting squeezes (or in their very own words “huggles”). Sometimes after eleven pm – when everyone under the age of thirteen is asleep, I like to squeeze up with Jon on the sofa (although nine out of ten times I have fallen asleep before the first advert break, if we are watching a film). These squeezes are the best kind.