Week 17! It is the end of term, lockdown is easing rapidly, we are moving house in two weeks time and my mind is so full of meaningless-yet-exciting material things that I am struggling to keep up with what day it is! So … I think that this will be the last weekly offering for a little while. That said, however, I have really enjoyed writing regularly and have the impression that enough people have enjoyed reading it, so I may well attempt to be more committed in the near future! Watch this space! Anyway… on we go… Week 17…
We watched Hamilton last night, which was of course excellent, but has done nothing for Husband’s misguided belief that he could have been a professional rap artist. His fresh ammunition and my hormonal rage clash with fireworks, and he is most certainly in the room where it happens. I fear it is going to be a long weekend…
In the afternoon, the tables are turned when I once again urge everyone out into the open air for a good ole family walk. We pack lots of snacks, changes of clothes, tokens of bribery and head off in the direction of the great unknown. We want to see if we can connect our new woods with our new, new woods, as geographically it would seem like they should meet up somewhere in the middle. They don’t. We walk beyond the connection point we had imagined and I ask directions. Apparently there is a bridge, “just up there on the left” that will take us on the winding route we need to follow.
“Ah well, nevermind,” says Husband. He wants to turn back. I persuade him to walk as far as the bridge so we can at least have a look at it and work out where we might go from there. He agrees, reluctantly. It is once again further than we assumed but the kids aren’t complaining! It seems each and every day of the week I have to try and drag the Boy on the shortest of walks and endure the most irritating of whinges. Yet today, he’s excited by the adventure and steams ahead with me. It’s an opportunity I don’t want to let go so easily and so we plough on ahead, finally coming to the bridge with a field and a forest and a lovely place for a little snack! So we sit and wait for Husband.
Eventually a man does appear and, though it has been a long time, I don’t believe he’s managed to age twenty years and lose his hair, so I ask the passing gent if he has seen anyone else?
“A man with a beard and a toddler?”
“That’s the one!”
“Yes, a while back, but… he was walking the other way!”
Yup. He was heading back! With my phone. And, most importantly, the snacks!
So we abandon our picnic spot and walk back until we catch up with him. As per usual in our family (yet apparently the reversal of almost everyone else’s), Mummy’s caution was carried off with the wind, while Daddy was fretting about how close it was to lunch time and how far we had walked and how tired everyone would get and how I never think that far ahead…
“But we had crisps and fruit and chocolate… they’ll live!”
We agree to disagree. Maybe he’s absolutely right and I should be more sensible… or maybe I spend all week with them and know a good opportunity when I see it?!
Or… maybe Husband was absolutely knackered and I was feeling fat, so we were both putting our own interests before anyone else’s?!
I’ll let you work it out and keep it to yourself…
So last week Husband had the genius idea of asking me to lead and preach the All Age Service, in a bid to keep my head in the game. It worked! I was so nervous that I had all resources prepared and notes written by Friday, when I wouldn’t normally give them any thought until Sunday. See what happens when you give the plebs a bit of ownership?!
In the evening we pray together for the week, for the kids, for our energy and our moods. It’s an encouraging time and we both really need it!
Today is workhorse day!
We are finishing up our Superhero Bible Study this week, and today is conveniently about diligence. I have a To Do List with about 30 tiny jobs on it, (such as, “write the word “Mexico” in the scrap book!”), and hope to use the idea of ‘working hard to complete a task’ to get it done. Rather brilliantly and miraculously, the Boy is really motivated by this! Who knew?! The Kid crosses ten words off the list by 10am and of course, I use this to goad the Eldest into writing just as many (longer and harder) tasks too, because I’m that kind of A-hole parent!
Eventually it gets to 2pm and The Eldest is sat with four worksheets in front of her. She looks done in. But this is it… the last set we have to complete before we can hand the lot in to her teacher. I’m so proud of her. I’m also done in for her.
“Look…” I say. “You do this last Phonics one with me?”
“Then we do this…” I crumple the three Maths worksheets up in my hand and throw them across the room to the bin. She absolutely beams and I laugh because that was the most satisfying feeling ever! (Slight over exaggeration there…)
We do the last Phonics sheet together and we are DONE! DONE, done, done-ity done! The three of us celebrate as if they actually just graduated University or something. We were going to do school until Friday but I look at the exercise books and the big fat scrap book full of all the beautiful writing and drawings and photographs and think,… that’ll do pig.
Which is excellent timing as the phone rings and it’s Mini Mate’s Mum. They’re in the car and can they pop over now please?
The Eldest overhears and squeals with glee. They’ve been best friends since they were 9 and 6 months old respectively. It’s a special friendship and I couldn’t have come up with a better reward for her today!
They arrive and they play hard. It’s so good for them and for us and it’s just lovely to feel almost normal again. We go for a big long walk and wear everybody out.
(We also learn about a plant called Himalayan Balsam, an invasive species which apparently grows and spreads so rapidly that it kills off native plants in its wake. And so my 6 year old goddaughter teaches us all how to pull it up and put it aside… quite impressive really! But GOSH, there’s really a lot of it…
It’s funny, you know… once you stop actively trying to teach them… they suddenly want to learn.
I get up feeling very tired, with a sore back, convinced the day will not go well. However… I tell the kids I’m doing Cosmic Yoga and they join in. In fact, The Boy joins in for a full forty minutes, for the first time of anything like that EVER. (And it’s Moana!)
Next, we decide to bake. The kids get out all of the ingredients, I put on the oven, get out the scales and sit back, offering occasional instructions. The kids do the rest. They really do know how to bake!
In the afternoon we go for a long walk, which is of course standard whinge, but bearable. The Boy then decides he wants to earn his Teach Your Monster to Read Certificate and does so, by himself.
So… at the end of our first official not-trying-to-teach-you day… we’ve done more learning than the average home-school day. Go figure!
I don’t remember much about Wednesday except that the Boy disappeared upstairs for a big poo. As he was grunting loudly, I shouted up to ask if he needed any help? He said, and I quote, “No thanks… (Eldest) is helping me!”
At this point the Eldest runs downstairs, and says with urgency, “I just need a few things to help (Boy)!”, then runs back upstairs with a nightlight… and a colander.
I mean… I don’t think I want to know! Do you want to know?! Really… You do?
She was making him a bathroom Disco.
To help him poo.
There you have it, people…
In the afternoon, we make Koeksisters with leftover syrup from the slowly-emptying freezer. It’s a fiddly job and Husband is at an important Zoom meeting, so I shut the gates in attempt to keep Toddler downstairs and out of his way.
Ten minutes in and he shouts of me.
I mean, the funniest part is she can actually climb the gates anyway. But where’s the fun in that?! They won’t make the move…
In the evening, THIS is where my mind is at these days…
I mean, it’s either going to look awesome or awful… either way it’s all purchased and wrapped up now so there’s no going back! The joys of being an over-planning creative with a Pinterest account, bare magnolia walls and too much time on her hands…
We complete our Bible Study this morning with the theme of truthfulness. Which is apt, as the Boy has really unfortunately discovered lying this week. We act out the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf (the proper gory version) and then do this rather nifty little craft about trust:
Ask the kids to go nuts cutting it up… and then ask them to stick it back together. Once broken, trust is incredibly hard to restore!
We play a few more games this morning, but generally gear up for a muddy walk with the Boy’s best friend and his family this afternoon. I almost cancel after hearing that a lady I hung out with last Friday has just been tested for Covid … but breathe a sigh of relief when we hear that it’s negative. But it’s a wake up call to the stage we are in. You want to be safe but you don’t want to be paranoid. You want to get out and see people and let your kids play… but you don’t want to put anyone in danger. I only sat in her back garden! But I drank her tea and used her loo… I washed my hands but who knows?! Suddenly my mind reels with everyone I’ve seen and who I would have to warn and why weren’t we more careful and what if someone gets it because of me?! How much longer are we going to have to live like this…?
Anyway. The mud play is brilliant. The Youngest is way too adventurous- and fast- and climbs the steepest mudslide with stealth. I have no choice but to go after her and pretty much have to slide back down on my butt once accosted. Not in the plan, but fun all the same! I am so glad we came.
But also glad we didn’t bring Mini Mate to THIS woods… for THAT is all Himalayan Balsam!!!
I am the sort of person who really needs closure; an end point to aim for and a celebration to look forward to. As such, today has been much anticipated by all involved! We do a quiz that lasts all day, with different rounds based on things we have learned. Some things really engage, others don’t. Either way there’s shed loads of sugary rubbish to be won. After we finish, Husband comes home and we have a little prize giving assembly. (When I haven’t been buying picture frames, I have been collating and editing videos!) And so we eat popcorn and watch our travels and other madness and generally just celebrate the good bits- it is JOYOUS. The kids are then awarded for genuine achievement and get giddy over prizes. (They requested magazines, which of course came with free gifts, which were of course cheap plastic tat, which of course broke within SECONDS- I kid you not! Object lesson, no?!)
Anyway… all in all, a beautiful day, a joyful week, a perfect end. Husband and I are in bed by 8pm!
After sleeping for hours each at a time, Husband and I start clearing the school stuff. Recycling, storing, boxing up what we don’t need. Taking all the maps and pictures off the wall, poly-filling holes and finally shifting the old bookcase into the back garden for firewood.
Which is the final straw for the Boy.
He cries and he won’t stop. No promise of a bigger house, bedroom, garden, will calm him down. Eventually, after many hugs, he opens up. He doesn’t want things to change. He’s enjoyed it. He’s not ready for it to all go away.
And I feel his pain.
For no matter how difficult the last 17 weeks have been at times; no matter how much I’ve looked forward to this weekend, this clearing; the move, the house, the holiday, the getting the kids back into school and back with their friends and back with a professional who knows her trigraphs from her triangles…. I already feel nostalgic. I already know that this marks the end of an era; albeit an era that nobody wanted or asked to be in; but a moment in history- and in our family- that has actually held many treasures and allowed for much, much joy.
I began these diaries overwhelmed with gratitude. I had some bumps and dips along the way but, actually… as this week, and this term, and this school year ends… I still feel overwhelmingly grateful. Grateful for the time and the excuse to slow down; honoured to have been blessed with three fun and fascinating kids, and privileged to have been given bonus time to watch them grow and learn right before my eyes.
Husband says, “well that’s good then… you’ll be well prepared for next time!”
He can just be quiet!
Peace be with you. Thanks SO MUCH for reading.
Much love xx