A mother's weekly dispatch from the pre-school frontline

It's Sunday morning. My head feels like it's been locked in a vice for the past six hours. That is six hours in which I have been roused on six separate occasions to tend to two tiny children who, between them, have found themselves in an array of challenging situations involving, at 12.22am, a discarded blanket which apparently could not be reinstated in its rightful place on the bed without a tsunami of tears, and at 3.17am the words: "I NEED TO DO A POO!" announced very loudly into my sleeping face.

In the absence of tea or coffee, or smelling salts, I am necking hot water with cider vinegar. "Is that coffee?" the four-year-old asks from her stool in the middle of the kitchen, on which she is erecting a den. "No, it's cider vinegar," I say. She looks up, compressing her nose towards her cheek. "What's cider vinegar?" she asks. "It's fermented apples, that is ROTTEN apples," I say, pre-empting her next carefully-calculated question. Apparently she doesn't hear, or is unphased; possible, given that I've previously found her licking a lamp-post.

"Do you know that Oliver Tiff said he is my boyfriend but I have all the boyfriends because everyone is my boyfriend. But do you know that Jasmin has brown hair and I have blonde hair, that's funny isn't it?" All I want is to quietly melt in a puddle on the floor, even if it then means being sopped into a big bucket and chucked down the drain. A drain might be peaceful, I reason, as I take one more bitter sip.

"Mummy," the four-year-old asks, once again looking up from behind a fortress of tea-towels: "What does 'bashing one out' mean?"