The day I stabbed the exercise ball to death

I few years ago, I snapped.

I’d had enough.

Working freelance, working part time and writing books was not a ‘real job’, so at the time (things have improved slightly I’m glad to say) it felt as if almost everything at home was down to me. I had four jobs – the lion’s share of house and child related responsibilities (everything like making sure cupboards stocked, keeping on top of the washing, shopping, cooking to getting car through MOT and booking dentists appointments and remembering everybody’s birthdays and sorting the social calendar – well I was ‘at home’, wasn’t I?) PLUS my freelance copywriting, grants and trusts fundraising part time job and trying to write my fiction. Oh, and mum was very sadly in her last few years, so regular trips and emergency dashes to Scotland, worry and daily phone calls to an increasingly confused and frail elderly lady.

I was trying so hard to do all this, and be a good (or at least adequate) mum. For the most part, I hope I kept it together but one day it was too much.

I was stressed. It was raining, so the boys (aged about nine and ten) could not play outside. Recently they’d taken to bouncing an exercise ball I’d got free with some magazine round the living room. Whenever they did it the dog would bark excitedly and loudly. Already a couple of things had got broken and so I hid the exercise ball and made it clear it was not to be used indoors as a football.

I was in the kitchen, slicing carrots and boiling pasta (I’m an inspired cook) when I heard the latest breakage.

I hurried through to see what had happened.

They’d found the ball, started a game of football and broken a mug half full of tea, so there were shards of mug and a big pool of tea on the cream coloured carpet (stupid colour of carpet to choose with boys and a dog).

That was it.

Realising that I was still holding the knife I’d been using on the carrots I stepped forward and stabbed the exercise ball with it, shouting: ‘THAT’S ENOUGH!’


Slowly, the exercise ball deflated. I walked back into the kitchen and continued to slice carrots, feeling much better. The boys were unusually quiet and well behaved for the rest of the evening.

They still refer to the incident. In fact it has grown in the telling. Apparently, I rushed in brandishing an enormous carving knife – not a tiny vegetable knife. And according to their version I stabbed that exercise ball over, and over in a frenzied attack similar to the shower scene in ‘Psycho’. 

I’m confident that when asked to recall their childhoods in years to come, they won’t refer to the times I’ve read to them at bedtime. They won’t recall me ferrying them to piano/drums/tennis/karate/swimming/football (especially the football). They won’t tell people about the camping trips, or when we tried to fly a kite, or the games of badminton in the garden, or the times when we played cards or went on bike rides (when we could coax them off the computer or the X Box.) Oh no. Of course they bloody well won’t. They will remember one thing about their childhoods and ONE THING ONLY.

They will remember the day their mum lost it and stabbed the exercise ball to death.




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