When asked recently about the madness/wonder/wisdom of having kids and living in Paris, I told a friend that parenting was a series of alarming moments. These moments grow, in the moment, and become huge, terrifying monsters of things. They block out the sun and its easy to forget that most of the time things are lovely. In the moment it is hard to imagine what lovely looks like, and impossible to remember that things will promptly return to normal.

By promptly, of course, I mean within a day or two. Or an hour. Rarely can you be certain which.

My alarming moments are usually in the late afternoon when I am due a cup of coffee, trying to feed Elena, and being used as a climbing frame/trampoline by Louis at the same time.

Luuk had a real classic yesterday at the supermarket with Louis. Louis is toilet training and so far has mastered communicating his need to go, using the potty, and briefly holding-it-in. He likes to press the flush when we dispose of whatever, and he’s a big fan of hand-washing. But sitting on the actual toilet – hell no. Torture.

So Luuk is pushing around the trolley at the supermarket when Louis, perched in the seat up front, declares, ‘poo’. He probably means pee, but nonetheless… Luuk is impressed, apologises and says that this time he’ll just have to do it in his nappy.

Louis insists. Luuk pats his bum and – ALARM! NO NAPPY!

Some doofus (me) dressed the kid without changing up the undies. So Louis’ first nappy-free outing was not a great success. Quick thinking Luuk parked the trolley, grabbed some size 2 trackies from the kids clothing department, a small box of pull-ups, made record time in the self-service checkout and dashed Louis off to the restrooms for a clean-up and quick-change.

Elena and I were at home, out of arms-reach, resting. I’ve been knocked-for-four (not quite a six) by this tummy thing I had earlier in the week. I keep running out of oomph at surprising moments. Yesterday afternoon we trecked the whole 150 meters or so to the library. We took the elevator – because we had Elena in the pushchair – up to the second floor where the kids books are . I sat on the floor and looked through boxes of books, reading a few to Louis toward the end, then took our selection to be issued, and walked home.

I was exhausted. Too exhausted to wait for Louis to climb up and down the stairs outside the lIbrary or any number of other aside-adventures he might discover on the way home. So Elena and I left the boys to it and went home to collapse – she for a nap in her bed, me with a novel on the sofa.

I should spend more time just like that, I’ve decided. Stephen King reckons that if you don’t have time to read then you don’t have time to be a writer.

Question is, if I want to spend more time reading, what slides? Luuk organised loads of meals this week and one of them was care of alloresto.fr – delivered to our door! Much as I like to cook, we might be doing this more often. Especially this coming week, if this lethargy doesn’t shift. This morning I was folding laundry and my arms were aching. C’est ridicule!