Now that the big day has passed once more, I find that not only is my house bulging with even more than our fair share of brightly coloured plastic but there are also more dangerous weapons lurking everywhere...
The pen is indeed mightier that the sword, since it can ruin new furniture in a matter of seconds in the hands of an enthusiastic two-year-old; and this Christmas seemed to have 'crafts' as a major theme. Mister Maker has an awful lot to answer for as paint pots, felt-tip pens, gloopy glue, sand art, crayons, glitter, felt shapes and items generally associated with 'messy play' now lurk in every corner, despite my protestations that works of art may only be created in the kitchen.
So I really do need to have eyes in the back of my head if my house is not to resemble a New York subway in terms of graffiti levels. And with three children all activities must be undertaken with military precision. Mealtimes provide an excellent opportunity to get the baby into the bath first, since I can be fairly confident that the lure of food will be enough to keep the big ones in their seats and away from potentially lethal crafts.
So it was that yesterday, Eddie had already had his bath and lay kicking on his changing mat in the bathroom. I prised Gilby away from the remains of his cupcake and got him into the water, whilst Gertie carried on at the table. She is eminently sensible and can be trusted not to autograph the walls, so I wasn't too worried. But I took the opportunity of hanging out some washing in the hallway whilst listening to Gilby's monologue in the bath.
"Right, come on then, Eddie; time to get you into your pyjamas!" I said, folding the last of the laundry in the hallway.
"Mummy, why are you talking to Eddie? He can't talk back to you," observed his big brother whilst blowing bubbles with his bath-water and covering the bath sides in wild red and green circles. Who knew that you could get soap-pens?
"Well I know that he's only a baby, but it is important that he learns how to communicate, and he will understand lots of things we say even though he can't talk yet," I explained as simply as I could.
"No Mummy. Why are you talking to him when he is asleep?"
Poor old Eddie had obviously got bored with waiting for his mother to return and get him dressed and had, well, nodded off. So much for my multi-tasking. Still, at least no permanent scribbles on priceless objects occurred in the interim. Though the bath took a bit of scrubbing...