The girls have been illness free for a month now. Hang on while I run and touch every piece of wood within a three mile radius. I’m not normally so superstitious but, well, that was before the girls were born. A zillion to one odds and all that.

The house is pretty much set up for the near to medium term and any financial worries we had back in December 2016 haven’t materialised. Hang on while I go touch wood again. My wife has been back at work and, most importantly, is back to enjoying it. Her colleagues in the neighbouring offices who are subjected to her afternoon snores probably less so, though. Speaking of which, my wife is sleeping again. Not full nights but certainly several hours in a row. Absolute luxury compared to twelve months ago, and largely thanks to her brother who now takes the early evening shift of keeping everything running smoothly.

The girls are loving the creche, are eating very well and putting on weight as our aching bodies will readily testify to. They’re on the cusp on walking unaided, and can rattle along at some considerable speed with the help of a Fisher Price walker. Alicia in particular seems in a great rush to get somewhere. The speed of the transition from crawling to walking with help has certainly surprised me. Luckily we recently doubled the size of the ‘jail’ we use to keep them safe which leaves them plenty room for manoeuvres. Still, it’s interesting to see how often they congregate together in the same spot, all competing for the same toy, even though they have access to more toys than Toys R Us (especially now…).

We’re making the most of the Belgian sunshine and have set up a paddling pool and a climbing frame in the garden for the girls to enjoy this weekend.

Despite the sunshine outside there are a couple of proverbial clouds on the horizon that threaten to destroy the prevailing sense of achievement we currently feel. The source of our achievement? We’ve reached month 14 of raising triplets and they all still have their limbs attached. We haven’t dropped a baby or listed one for sale on Ebay, and we haven’t inadvertently pushed the long triplet pram under a bus. The family dog still hasn’t left home though I’m sure she’s been tempted. Hell, I’ve been tempted.

Those clouds? I have an annoying cough that’s reaching chronic levels. Not just annoying but Lisa-Simpson-on-a-moral-crusade annoying. My cough has become such a regular occurrence now that the babies don’t even notice it. They could be asleep in my arms and won’t even flinch, even if I’m coughing my ass off to the point of retching. In a way that’s kind of annoying. If I’m going to die right in front of them, while holding one of them, surely it’s only polite that they wake up and take some notice, right? I suppose I should be thankful that they don’t.

The creche we send our girls to, which we’ve never had cause to complain about, has suddenly become the cause of some anxiety on three fronts. First of all, they’ve recently been allowing the girls to sleep after 4pm, against our explicit instructions, which makes bedtime at home (7pm) more difficult than it needs to be. I hate the thought of being one of those parents who is unnecessarily demanding but here’s where I draw the line. Routine is extremely important for parents of multiples. On occasion things go wrong, we accept that, we deal with that as and when, but here it’s like they were suddenly trying to create a new routine against our wishes. I’m not sure if it was a deliberate act or rather that it simply makes their lives easier to send flagging babies off to the quiet room rather than engage with them. The current heatwave isn’t helping I suppose. Still, our hard-fought routine trumps everything as far as I’m concerned, so I cajoled my wife into being one of those demanding parents I hate so much. She put her foot down and all it took was a stern look. And a foot, obviously. Impressive.

Secondly, they’ve recently decided to terminate the employment of one of their staff. Well, she wasn’t sacked, just that they didn’t renew her contract. We don’t know why, she doesn’t know why, her colleagues don’t know why. All we know is that our girls are very comfortable with her and we’ve lost count of the number of times she’s been on hand to offer advice and comfort to Mrs H and myself over months. From our perspective it feels like a personal loss driven by a profit motive.

They’re already advertising for her replacement and I’m sure we’ll grow to appreciate whoever they bring in, but it just feels wrong. I should make it clear that we think all the staff are pretty wonderful. A little less so since “asleep-after-4pm-gate”. They’re all degree-educated young women who seem genuinely delighted to be surrounded by kids. To be honest, it’s a bit spooky. We like them all, and the girls love them to bits. One in particular simply exudes joy. She’s either an Oscar-level actress in the wrong job or she’s genuinely loving life being surrounded by a gaggle of babies aged 3 to 14 months for 8 hours a day. I once had a nightmare along those lines and I still haven’t recovered. I mean, I like kids, especially my own, but 8 hours every day surrounded by snot-nosed, crying, annoying, whining, screaming, jealous creatures who need near-constant attention? Perhaps I don’t like kids as much as I thought.

Finally, they told us last week that there had been a case of Scarlet Fever in one of the older sections. Normally, the youngest group is well insulated from the older kids, but there are rumours that the infected kid has a younger sibling. I didn’t know much about this illness until we received the email, and to be honest I wish I hadn’t read up on it. I now see the symptoms everywhere. I don’t suppose I can blame the creche for the scarlet fever, but after upsetting us twice in the last few days, I’m putting this in their column as well.

That’s about it for my update. We’re in a good place and long may it continue. Just one thing. When do I stop calling my gorgeous 14-month old girls, babies? When do they become toddlers? Soon enough they’ll be teenagers and adults with teenagers of their own. I still can’t get my head around that. Sod it, I’m checking to see if the dog fancies leaving home.

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