Writing's on the wall for tidiness
"I drew you a boat mummy!" Ely declared gleefully.
"Super," I replied, "can I see it?"
"It's on the stairs," he grinned back at me.
"Well go and get it."
"I can't," he announced before directing me to the staircase, where I spy an abstract scribble on the pale grey carpet. I confiscated the markers he loves so much and told him, yet again, that we only draw on paper; not the floor, walls, sofas, tables or carpets.
I surprised myself by how calm I was. I didn't let him know this, as a low-key reaction doesn't usually yield effective results. However, I was calm because part of me has gone past caring. So much of my once-lovely house has been trashed by three small creatures that it's counterproductive to get worked up.
Does anyone remember that trend of minimalism? It was all about clean lines, pared-back furnishings, a few statement ornaments and white on white. Sadly I bought into the craze imagining a clutter-free existence in my suburban semi-d.
Five years on, and clutter is the dominant style in our household. The slate-grey Habitat sofas, whose seat cushions were never intended to double-up as castle walls or horses or steppingstones, are now threadbare on the corners and dotted with stains. The cushions I splurged on have been replaced by homemade numbers that are more washing-machine-friendly than the Clarissa Hulse hand-printed silk ones that came apart at the seams after too many pillow fights.
And what about the white walls, once so fresh and bright and modern? Now they bear the smudges and scars of sticky fingers, scratches from ride-on cars and buggies and the occasional artistic outburst. The doors each boast a keyhole that's jammed with coins, following a long-lived obsession by our first-born.
Our living room is now referred to as the playroom by visitors, which is as much upsetting as it is true. Style and comfort have been marginalised by encroaching toys, games, puzzles and storage boxes stuffed with Lego, knights and all manner of vehicles.
But I'm not prepared to submit to chaos just yet. I may just have to sit tight for a decade or so . . .