Locked away and loving it

I REMEMBER being sent to my room as a kid.

At the time I thought it horrendous punishment - an unspeakable torture not unlike Chinese arm burns or running out of Diet Coke.

But these days when I stand at the kitchen sink up to my elbows in marinated chicken that has somehow cemented itself to the bottom of the roasting pan, the phone balanced under one ear listening to my sister moan about her new man's bathroom habits (please, he looks like George Clooney, who cares what he does with his nose hair?), my youngest in my other ear banging on about needing a costume for the school social by tomorrow night, hubby watching the telly in the next room at a decibel level usually reserved for Metallica concerts and an Optus salesman ringing my doorbell like there's no tomorrow, I admit I yearn for the days when I was sent to my room to spend time in silent solitude stretched out on my lime green, chenille bedspread with only my one-eared teddy for company.

What bliss. Some days I'd give almost anything to be sent to my bedroom.

To a woman who can't get a minute to herself from sun-up to sundown, a couple of hours locked in a quiet bedroom is right up there on the wish list with winning lotto, losing 10 kilos overnight or finding yourself in the fastest moving queue at the supermarket on the Friday night of a long weekend. I'm never alone.

It seems that every hour of every day at least one of my family is glued to my backside wanting something cooked, cleaned, kissed, fixed, found, bandaged, opened, closed, signed, explained, paid for, wiped up, scraped off, hosed down, hugged or washed.

Yep, I'm going to come straight out and admit it, lately there have been times I've contemplated drawing on the wall with felt-tip pen, spilling nail polish on the carpet or kicking a ball at the neighbour's window just so someone would yell at me to "go to your room".

Taking matters into my hands, this week I bought one of those "do not disturb" signs, hung it on the door handle and locked myself in the bedroom with the hope of securing a precious hour to myself.

Surprise, surprise, it took all of three minutes for the fun and games to begin. "Where's mum?" "Have you seen mum?" "I need mum, where is she?" "Mum?"

Naturally, I quashed any remnants of motherly instinct programmed inside me to alert my offspring of my whereabouts. This was my time. I had a sign on the door handle and a magazine with a crossword in it.

There was no going back.

I ignored the first tap on the door. I also ignored the next 46 taps on the door, but when they started tapping on the window it was time to admit my location.

"Okay, okay, I'm in my bedroom and I'm going to be in here, alone, for the next hour. Your father is on the couch supposedly watching a game of footy and you have my full authority to wake him up so he can deal with whatever crisis, mess or carnage you kids can dish up in the next 60 minutes." A moment's silence.

And then, through the door, I heard my youngest say to her brother as they were walking back down the hallway:

"Wow, I wonder what mum did. She must have been really naughty to get a whole hour in her bedroom."

Family Taming is a weekly humour column by Wendy Andrews.

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