I went into Waterstones with the boys today. (to buy Irvine Welsh’s book ‘Skagboys’ for my father’s birthday, which, when I stopped to think about it, was a really weird request from him, being such a Tory-voting, anti-drugs kind of guy, but there you go…) and when I got home, I noticed the quote printed on the side of the plastic bag.

oh please, oh please, we beg, we pray
Throw your tv set away
And in it’s place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.

Now, this is all very nice. And thanks Roald Dahl, for that thought of the day. However, I will wager Roald Dahl has never encountered the following scenario. Picture this, if you will.

We get in from town. DB2 wakes up from his slumber in the buggy, and howls. And when I say howls, I mean howls. Bless him, once again, his teeth are causing him misery, judging by the frantic gnashing of gums and driving his fists repeatedly into his mouth. That and the gargling ‘gnnnrraarrgh’ noise that he keeps making. And the dribble. (oh god, the dribble! Endless waterfalls of saliva deluging down his tops!)

So yes, Mr Dahl, that’s your first scenario. On top of this screaming cacophony of anguish and pain, you also have a little voice trailing you round the house while you attempt to unscrew the lid of Calpol one handed (other arm holding flailing, teething child of course) saying ‘mummy, can we read our library books?’. Not now, darling. ‘Mummy, can I have a malted milk?’ No, not now darling. ‘Mummy, can I pull the chair over on to the floor?’ What? No! No of course you bloody can’t!

So, now I’ve set the scene. You then have Db2 waving his arms around like a mental windmill, trying to prevent the Calpol spoon from entering his mouth, which is really annoying, as he actually likes Calpol. He manages to connect at exactly the wrong moment, sending the entire spoonful of sticky, glutinous medicine all over himself, me, and the floor. He then has the audacity to cry even louder, as though it somehow hurt/ inconvenienced me, rather than me.

Then add DB1 suddenly shrieking that he ‘REALLY NEEDS TO GO TO THE TOILET’ and having to hare him over to the bog, lowering his pants in the nick of time before he poos all over the floor, with Db2 going completely insane, because naughty mummy put him down for ten seconds. DB2 then falls over (basically in a bit of a tantrum, but we’ll let him off, as he’s suffering) and hits his head slightly against the toilet door, resulting in even more howling and wailing.

Amidst this chaos and noise, I then have to attempt to make lunch, with Db2 hanging off the grill door repeatedly. And yes, the grill is on. Try that stressful situation for size, Mr Dahl! Trying to saw off some cheese with a baby knife whilst holding one foot against the grill door, in a bizarre, awkward kind of ballet pose. Let’s see you do that, Mr Dahl! (well, ok, he can’t, as he is deceased, but in theory, Mr Dahl. In theory.)

Then have your youngest promptly mash up all the food in their livid little hands and throw all the resulting crumbs up into the air, spreading evenly over the entire kitchen floor like an ash cloud from an exploding volcano.

If, Mr Roald Dahl, you still think you would like to have a go at reading a book with your offspring, then good luck with that. But me? I chose the easy option here. I stuck on the tv, ran out to the kitchen, collapsed against a cupboard and hastily gobbled about ten malted milks for comfort.

Terrible, terrible parenting. Apparently. But you can’t deny, in times of trouble, the tv can be a rather welcome help in the home…!