It seemed like a good idea at the time

Spike Milligan had ‘I told you I was sick’ as his epitaph. I was toying with ‘I told you I was tired’ (in the moment where one considers such things), but changed my mind over the weekend. Mine will now read: “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

The reasons why I have chosen this are too numerous to mention – and will hopefully be even more numerous by the time I get around to having to actually use it – but I can start with three examples from the past few days.

On Friday, I had to do an urgent phone interview. Mr 3 showed no signs of sleeping, but I decided to put him to bed anyway. He did not wish to go to bed and screamed like a baby banshee. So I chose to put him into my bed with a pile of books and bribes of jelly dinosaurs if he stayed quiet for the 20 minutes it would take to talk to my corporate guy from the US.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

He was quiet. It went well. I was so relieved when it was all over that I skipped down the hall to praise him for being a good boy. The praise died on my lips as I opened the door.

Mr 3 had entertained himself by drawing ALL OVER the wall behind my bed in blue crayon. All over the bed. All over the bedside table. All over the sheets. The sheets! Talk about thorough.

When The Builder and I were having a civilised discussion about this several hours later, he wanted to know why the blue crayon had even been in our bedroom. I couldn’t remember. Then I did. I’d put it on the bottom shelf of the bedside table whilst vacuum cleaning months ago. So I didn’t crush it all over the carpet.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

On Monday, we took the boys to The Masterpieces from Paris exhibition at the Australian National Gallery. When we planned it, we had visions of delighting our children with the works of the Masters and instilling in them a lifelong love of art. Actually, that’s not true. We just wanted to go and had to drag them along. But still.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

And so today I have a new idea of hell. It involves one three year old, a large pram, about 4 million people (mostly old, mostly wearing those damn audio tour headphones), 100 old paintings and a confined space.

He did like it. He told me so. He thought the ‘painting of the dark’ (Van Gogh’s Starry, Starry Night) was really nice. His favourite. Mr 6 liked it so much he painted himself in it (see above) at the self-portrait station of the family activity room.

But when I wheeled Mr 3 away from the crowds into the relative peace of the Minimalist art room, I could see him looking at all those blank white canvases in confusion. “I could do better,” I could almost hear him think.

His longing for a blue crayon was written all over his face.