We've been having a few 'morning routine' issues. So I've been forced to write the following letter to my children, left on their breakfast plates this morning:
I wanted to write you this note to explain the word cooperation to you.
Cooperation is what happens in families. Particularly in the morning. When Dad has already left for work. It's how families work. It's how they ensure certain family members get to play on the X-box or iPad regularly.
Cooperation is getting ready for school in a friendly, collaborative manner.
It is about being a partnership in our journey through the kitchen, to the bathroom, in and out of the shower cubicle, stopping by the wardrobe to collect clothes on our way to getting dressed, and proceeding out of the front door in an orderly manner. ALL BEFORE 8.15am.
Cooperation is choosing what you would like to eat for breakfast when first asked. It is not allowing me to run through, in detail, the full contents of the fridge and cereal cupboard, saying 'no' to each thing before agreeing, begrudgingly, to eat the first thing on the list.
It is cooperative, and also kind to my nerves, for you to get in the shower at the first time of asking. It is NOT cooperative to ignore me until I have asked you at least ten times and am on the verge of screaming at you both.
Nor is it cooperative for you to insist I am not your father, rather Lord Voldermort. For you to jump around my bedroom. MY BEDROOM. Waving a chopstick at me and screaming "Expiliarmus" and "Avada Kedavra" (please note, it is 'Avada Kedavra' not 'Abracadabra', I know we haven't got to that point in the books yet, but even so Harry Potter authenticity would be appreciated) WHEN YOU SHOULD BE IN THE SHOWER.
Similarly, it is not cooperative for the smaller of you to hide in one of our various wardrobes, while I am searching for her, to encourage toilet use before showering. It is even less cooperative for her to burst out of said wardrobe screaming at me and causing me, quite possibly long lasting, cardiac damage in the process.
And whilst on the subject of toilets, it is not cooperative for you to take advantage of my forgetting to lock the bathroom door to come in and engage me in conversation, while I am sitting on the toilet.
It is even less cooperative for the smaller of you to take the same opportunity to run in and flush the toilet while I am sitting on it. The shock of that happening isn't conducive to my long term health, particularly as I am usually only just recovering from the bursting out of the wardrobe trick.
Finally, still on the subject of toilets. It is the height of uncooperativeness for either of you to come into the bathroom and flush the toilet while I am in the shower, thus causing temperature fluctuations that result in my screaming, flailing and ultimately falling out of the shower cubicle.
I would also appreciate both of your cooperation by ensuring you use your own towels for drying, rather than mine. Much as I love your Disney Princess and Mickey Mouse towels I am considerably bigger than the two of you and therefore need my own full sized towel.
And no, I don't care if you are being Elliot and your sister is playing E.T.!
While we are talking about costume. It is cooperative of you to just accept the fact that you have to wear a school uniform. You are British. The vast majority of British school children have to wear a school uniform. That INCLUDES YOU!
Equally, it is not cooperative to insist upon going to school dressed in shorts and a t-shirt when it is raining/snowing/sub zero outside. You may not, indeed can never, go to school dressed as a sheep, princess, pirate, angel, fairy, Gruffalo or Stitch. And no, I do not believe that you're 'allowed to dress up today for World Book Day'. Just as I didn't believe it was World Book Day last Friday or the Friday before that as well.
Finally. It is cooperative to have thought ahead as to what items you wish to take to school with you before you place your foot on the doormat to leave the house.
Cooperation involves having your bag packed ready to leave. It does not involve deciding at 8.14am it is imperative you find your library book from last week, now hidden in the disaster you call your bedroom, as otherwise the Librarian will give you a Concern Slip.
Additionally, you may NOT take light sabres, swords, pistols, fighter aircraft, the Millennium Falcon, a TARDIS, sonic screwdriver, in fact any kind of screwdriver, Thunderbird 2, 3' Cookie Monster or any other toy of any description whatsoever to school with you. EVER.
My darling children. THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION.
I love you both more than you can possibly know.