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

Earlier this year, one of my friends worked at the Martin Creed exhibition at the Hayward. It was, for want of a more critical interpretation, a room full of balloons, and it was my friend's job to go in and burst every single one with a contraption made of wood and nails.

The detritus he discovered in that room was, I recall him saying, disgusting. Human hair, bits of finger nails... I'm reminded of this now as I sit splay-legged in my living room, among a withered frogspawn of balloons, armed with a blunt pencil. It is 8pm and the last of the guests at the joint Hallowe'en-themed party we held in honour of the one- and four-year-olds' birthdays, have finally left.

All around me, the remnants of many hours in which 33 children and their parents (80 per cent of whom I have never met before) traipsed through our home, leaving in their wake a trail of destruction that puts my own teenage house-parties to shame.

Among the casualties, a room full of shattered dolls-house furniture. Orange icing smeared into the sofa. A bottle of citronella-scented mosquito repellent I never knew I'd owned, smashed on the bathroom floor. Scraps of birthday cards written by the four-year-old's friends, demonstrating that they can already write.

As I slide my foot into a slipper, only to be met by a semi-masticated apple core, my daughter walks in, her bottom lip shaking, in the costume I painstakingly fashioned for her from an old pillowcase, which gave her the look of a dead surgeon. "But mummy, I didn't even want to dress as a ghost."