Childminders are now inspected by Ofsted. Unlike other providers, we are not given a date, just a month. The idea seems to be to catch us off guard.
This is unnecessary, as any childminder will tell you; there is never a good time. My allocated inspector and I narrow her strike time down to mornings this week to improve her chances of catching me at home.
I take the children to school, where three-year-old girl mangles her thumb in the reception class toilet door. I phone mum, who decides to come home and take her to Aamp;E. Two-year-old boy, perfectly toilet trained for the past three months, decides he is obviously not getting enough of my attention. I change all his clothes and bathe him, offering a silent prayer that Ofsted will not turn up today.
The inspector calls. The two year-old answers the door. I have a phone to each ear - my daughter is on the verge of breaking up with her long-term boyfriend and the mother of an autistic child is on the helpline wanting support getting her excluded child back into school. Ofsted's lady is charmed by George, less enchanted by multiple cats. I ignore her visible shudder when George kisses the one who joins us at the dining table to investigate her briefcase.
I deposit children at the playgroup, and catch the bus to a meeting with the parent of the excluded child, the headteacher and education officers.
It's always difficult to persuade professionals that autism is not just an annoying character defect the child could overcome with a little more effort and firmer parenting. We agree a strategy for managing his return.
I inspect school toilet door with recovering three-year-old. Why did she insert her thumb in the hinge side? "I though it was a bit of my glove - I didn't know my thumb was still in it."
The writer is a childminder, volunteer helpline worker and school governor.
She wants to remain anonymous