The competition is fierce. Eyes are on the ball at all times. No-one can relax for fear their competitor will sail in, swiftly and cleverly, bringing up the rear and taking advantage of the snoozer’s blind side. Before they realise what is happening, the moment is gone and they’ve lost out. That one second when, from the corner of their eye, they spy the younger brother making off with the bubble machine. There is a mad moment of panic and the choice has to be made: should he make off after the thief or stay focused. Too late! That one second when all concentration was momentarily lost, cost him dearly. The prize is snatched. The poop has literally been scooped. Screecher Creature No. 1 sweeps in and in one nifty movement, loads up his shovel with the bounty and makes off with it. To the bin. In the back of the net, as it were. To say Screecher Creature No. 2 is annoyed, is putting it mildly. If scooping poop was an Olympic sport, my lads would secure the gold! Screecher Creature No. 1 at least. It was so easy. At least it seemed that way initially. How was I going to get them to clean up after the new puppy? She is just 9 weeks old and even her poo’s are bordering on cute but I reckon I’ve done my time. In fact, I’m still doing it. Just one Screecher Creature left in nappies and it’s about time somebody else bought some shares in the waste industry. If you want to get kids to do something on a regular basis, i.e. chores, it is recommended that you make it fun, turn it into a game. But even a child in the youngest of years, won’t buy that when it comes to cleaning up dirt after a pet. So I appealed to their mercenary instincts and offered to pay 50c every time they picked up after Juno. It’s working very well so far. So well in fact, I fear I am going to be broke before long. I should have started at 20c and put a daily ceiling on it after that. In fact, that’s not a bad idea at all. I think this week they are going to get their first painful lesson in a minimum wage job. I am pretty sure they aren’t members of a union so I might just get away with it. And if I intend on being the boss from hell, I may as well threaten an ATM breakdown every time one of them puts a foot out of line. I have also noticed that they tend to slack off at the weekends and there is no scooping of the poop at all first thing in the morning. Any morning. It falls to me on those occasions. Yes, definitely time to draw up a contract. Let’s see if that puts a dent in their competitiveness. Not quite grasping money yet, there was some indignation on wages day, Saturday. I find it next to impossible to explain to them that two 50c pieces make up one euro. “No it doesn’t, Mammy. I want my two monies,” said the silver winner. “But it’s the same thing. You still have the same amount.” “No. I don’t. I want my six fifty cents-es, please.” The bringer home of the gold. It was pointed out to them that they could now buy one of their much coveted magazines with a plastic piece of crap sellotaped to the front of it. As long as it was three euros or under, that is. Have you any idea how expensive kids’ magazines are? One magazine cost more than their admittance to kids club at the cinema. It’s crazy! Mister Husband took them to the book shop and left me to do the trolley dash with Screecher Creature No. 4 whose only interest is gnawing on a piece of croissant as I do the shop. The lads went about their magazine blitz business. “Daddy, can I have this one?” “No, that’s too expensive.” “What about this one?” “No. Still too dear.” Screecher Creature No. 3 found yet another packet of play dough and he was allowed buy that. Screecher Creature No. 1, the savviest of the lot, found a beginners set of calligraphy pens and decided that was coming home with him. Screecher Creature No. 2 was still deciding. Literally a child in a toy shop he was bamboozled by the array before him. The selection process made all the harder by his total lack of numeracy skills. “Daddy, is this one too ‘spensive?” “Fraid so, Iarla. Look, it has to have either a one or a two on the sticker. That’s how you know you have enough money to pay for it.” “Oh.” Off he went again and returned with a game displaying one of those big, bright red price stickers. “Daddy, this one has the number two on it.” “Yes, it does, Iarla.” But it was right before the number one making it twenty one euro. And reduced at that. What a bargain. I was very interested to hear how Mister Husband talked his way out of that one. Screecher Creature No. 2 came home with a pencil case instead. Back to the drawing board, lads, or in this case, back to shovellin’ shit!