After entering Tier 3 lockdown last week, the holiday and Grandparent reunion is still very much cancelled.
However, Husband is off! For a whole week!
It is pouring with rain all day.
So… we sleep!
During his turn to nap, I play Ludo and Monopoly with the older kids while the little one dips felt princesses in my tea. I am loving the board game phase, I have to say.
Later, when Husband is up and the kids are all busy playing ‘schools’, (because, you know, it’s been one whole day since they were there), we find ourselves alone in the kitchen. We potter about finding trivial jobs to do until Husband says,
“Hey, here’s an idea. Shall we…” he sidles closer, “… sit on the sofa?”
I look at him like he just pinched my butt in public.
“What, both of us? Together? In the middle of the afternoon?!”
Well… why not indeed?!
We sit down, brews in hand, and the experience clearly goes to my head as I suggest, “shall we… catch up on Bake Off?!”
For ten whole minutes we sit together on the sofa in our lounge, nursing cups of tea and coffee, watching something we chose ourselves in the middle of a Saturday afternoon. Slowly, one by one, the kids come to join us, until we are all snuggled up together under blankets, verbally trolling poor Linda over her offensive attempt at a Cornish Pasty.
This is what good family times are made of, right here!
In the evening we do pretty much the same, eating homemade pizza while watching Onward: Disney’s latest offering, complete with tear-jerker ending and obligatory dead parent.
All in all, it is a day so awesomely lazy that it actually feels like Christmas.
Almost-dead Dad day.
Husband is a busy man. A busy, busy man who has no time to be ill, or tired, or miss his parents or clock on to the fact that he’s been north of the Tamar for so long that he’s pretty much English by now. Worse than that: a Northerner.
Until, that is, he stops working. At which point, he has his annual break down, caused by all of the above.
When there’s still no sign of him at 11am I realise that today is the day. (Which is inconvenient really, as it is also the only day in the whole holiday not forecast for rain!) I head upstairs to try and coax him out into the daylight, and am immediately reminded of that episode of Father Ted, in which drunk old Father Jack sobers up and realises- with horror- who, what and where he is!
“Rain?! North?! Father?! Priest?! Oh, F-“
I think he needs more sleep.
Late afternoon, the sun is shining and I am really concerned that we have wasted the only dry day of the holidays. So I throw the kids in the car, grab a couple of snacks and head to the park for an hour. It’s a little busy, so we take one of the nature trails instead. I fully expect the kids to grumble and give up, but they’re surprisingly full of beans today!
They want to walk further and higher and I, never the one to forgo that kind of enthusiasm, follow their lead. In the end, we reach the top of a small hill that none of us has scaled before, just in time to see a stunning autumn sunset!
Spurred on by this adventure, they are now reluctant to go home. So we don’t. We circle back to the park, which is now empty, and stay until it gets dark.
Eventually, Husband calls – he has ‘regrouped’ and is ready to serve us a late tea. Which is just as well really, as I don’t often consider these things when adventure is on the other line! So fortunate to have someone at home who does. Bless that man!
There is a three hour window today in which it is not forecast for rain. So, I get the lunches ready, Husband loads the car and, at five-to-cloudy, we head back to the same park for some bike practise and outdoor playtime in the woods.
Unfortunately, however, the forecast is wrong.
We picnic in the car.
How very British!
Still, it does clear up long enough to get the bikes out for a quick jaunt and the kids are really improving! With rain suits on, the park is fair game too and we manage a little play before the Eldest decides she wants to go on her bike again. The others aren’t keen so I take her on her own.
“I’ll only be ten minutes.”
We spot a fairy door. And then three more. Before long we are deep in the woods, knowing that if life was indeed a fairy tale, I’d definitely have been eaten by wolves by now.
The phone rings.
“Where are you?”
“Honestly? Away with the fairies…”
“It’s chucking it down!”
“What? No it’s not!”
“It is here, it’ll be with you in a minute-“
“Ooooh Yup. Here it is! Ok just wait in the car and we’ll be as quick as we can!”
“You’ve got the keys…”
“Ah. So I have. Sorry.”
“It’s ok…we’re hiding under the slide. Just… don’t take your time, yeah?!”
Poor, unfortunate woodcutter.
So I’m pretty sure I have written before about our love of one-to-one time with our kids. We haven’t managed it much with the older two this year, given all that’s happened, but decided when our holiday was cancelled that it was something we would take the opportunity to prioritise.
So, today was for the Eldsest and I! We went out for lunch and watched a movie at the cinema; held hands, played I-spy, laughed a lot and sat in the car for an hour once home as neither of us wanted the day to end. Several times throughout the day she declared how much she loved it and me, as my heart all but burst with love and pride for her. This is not every day life, I assure you; but we find that a little investment and undivided attention every so often goes a really, really long way for all of us.
Another lovely, unplanned moment happened later on, as The Boy caught sight of the moon when I went to close his curtains at bedtime. We turned off the lights and sat at his window, counting the stars and talking about how very big the world was. Eventually, unable to resist, we donned our wellies and plodged out into the boggy garden for a better look!
Outside, he looks at me with genuine wide-eyed wonder and whispers: “Mummy… it’s so big… and I want to go EVERYWHERE.”
“Oh darling,” I look him in the eyes and whisper back, “live a life full of adventure! I really, truly hope that you do.”
(I know, my fairy-tale has turned into a feel-good family script today. But, alas, if it is Disney, I’ll definitely be eaten soon!)
It’s Husband’s turn for a 1:1 date with The Boy today, so the girls and I are… babysitting. Let me explain…
Since about May, one of the exemptions to lockdown rules is for single parent families to form a “support bubble” with another household. After moving house and briefly seeing grandparents, we offered to bubble with a single Mum and her twin daughters, who are now living within walking distance of our house. (At the risk of sounding too much like a good Samaritan, please appreciate that these girls are three years old. There is as much in it for me and Toddler to see them as there is the other way around!)
That said, when we offered, I did brace myself. For various reasons, I envisaged a lot of pastoral challenges. What I didn’t account for, however, was the amount of times someone would have ‘suspected Covid‘ or have to isolate, to the point where we have barely seen them since the elusive Bubbling began. Thus, today, we did plan ahead to try and give this poor Mum a break without sacrificing Husband’s much-needed time off. So, off he went to the cinema with The Boy, just as one very tearful Mum arrived, dropped off her twins and went home to have a nap and clean her house. Four hours later, a brand new, beaming woman picked them up! Which was worth every minute, really. Besides which, the Youngest had a great time with her friends, the Eldest was a brilliant help, and it did feel so, so good and energising to be able to do something practical to help somebody else again. How very, very long does it feel since we were able to do that?!
If you followed my Diary of a Lockdown posts, you will know that we did a lot of ‘travelling’ this year. That is, fake holidays to far flung destinations, generally involving a lot of food, a lot of YouTube videos, a fair few unique activities and a smidgen of cultural appropriation. (All in the name of education, of course…)
We all decided that a Tier-3 cancelled holiday definitely had to involve another one of these! So, today we went to Canada, where we baked Montreal-style bagels, played table air hockey (genius charity shop find!), went on a (non-violent) bear hunt, built a beaver dam, made Beaver Tail donuts and then camped out in The Boy’s bedroom and pretended his sensory lights were the Aurora Borealis! All finished off by falling asleep to The Incredible Journey on Disney+. Awesome.
Indeed, this was a high-level endorphins kind of day. It took me back to the rosy days of early lockdown, when we were still talking about how wonderful it was to get more time together as a family and how novel it was to home-school! It’s good to remember and feel those kinds of feelings again… we may well be needing them to keep us going over the next few weeks!
Today is a bit more of a rest day; Husband and I take turns to do activities with the kids while the other sleeps. This involves various things, including a new ‘Halloween alternative’ window display for Husband’s office:
It also involves another rather comical clash of parenting styles, not unlike The Unfortunate Tadpole Incident, (that I have permission to share now that we’ve all calmed the fudge down!) See, after a week of mostly rain, the garden is a bog and the kids need to get out of the building. As may be clear by now, I rather fancy myself as the adventure-prioritising, mud-is-king kind of parent; one who is prone to throwing caution to the wind when the moment appears to be worth it. Which is how, on Friday afternoon, we got ourselves into this situation…
I mean, they’re jumping in it, running, skidding and diving in it, lying down and rolling around in it; all the while I am standing at the window recording videos on my phone and shouting of Husband to come and watch! The kids are spurred on by this and start getting hyperactive, trying to run into the house while I am squealing, chasing, catching them and locking them outside! It is all kinds of raucous, if not a tad icky, sticky fun.
And don’t get me wrong, at first Husband really does see the funny side. Until, that is, he sees the state of the lawn… and then he starts having a paddy! (Pun intended.) He tells me the whole lawn will now cost £100 to reseed.
“What? Come on, they’re kids, they’re just running about, stop being dramatic!”
Next thing I know, he’s out there trying to hose them down, shouting, “STOP! STOP! COME HERE!” Closely followed by, “THAT’S IT! There’ll be no holidays next year- this grass is going to cost us A THOUSAND POUNDS TO FIX!”
Between stifled giggles, I point out that that’s a pretty hefty inflation in the last ten minutes…
“Where did you get the latest quote? Back in Cornwall where people die chasing tadpoles?!”
“OH? Oh really? Fine!” He shouts back, “Laugh! I’ll just take a Sharpie to your gallery wall shall I?! See how you like it!“
I’m in hysterics now. “Sorry. Can’t cope. Please stop!”
“Ok, fine, fine. Laugh . Whatever, just STAY OFF MY LAWN!!!”
Later, when we have both calmed down and said sorry, he explains: “I’m sorry. You like walls with pictures. I just really like nice grass!“
The garden is now closed for the season!
(I am still laughing, though…)
In the evening, we more than make up for the afternoon’s excitement with an online Murder Mystery party- which is by far the funniest night in we have had via Zoom all lockdown. What is also lovely is realising that, without really thinking about it, we have actually chosen to spend a Friday night during Husband’s week off socialising with a group of his parishioners; causing us to remember and celebrate how very fortunate we are to live and serve in this Church and community.
Which is pretty much how I would sum up this week really. We didn’t make it down to the in-laws, which was sad, but also fortunate. I really don’t think that attempting to stick to the ‘Rule of 6’, outside, in the rain, would have been worth the six hour drive to be honest! Instead, we have rested; we have invested and we have remembered. We feel ready to get up again and face whatever the next few weeks will bring… which is what holidays are supposed to be all about, really?!
Thanks be to God!
May He bless you and yours. Amen x