We were expecting our lodger tomorrow, but as the government reduced isolation time to 10 days, it seems silly not to wait until Friday when The Boy is in the clear. So we wait.
Whilst waiting, we film our scenes for the online nativity next week, which is full of all the usual pumping and poo-talk you’d expect from a five and a six year old! At one point, they ride around on Husband’s back like a donkey, whilst he gaffaws and accuses Joseph of offloading a curry on route! It’s going to be an interesting project to edit…
Speaking of which… we then attempt to get the kids to bed early, as one of Husband’s parishioners has very kindly offered to buy and collect a take away curry for us, which is all kinds of exciting! As kids’ law goes, however, the Youngest is still ‘ducking about’ come 9pm, by which point I can smell the curry. Eventually, I give up and opt to enjoy my Tikka Masala with an extra helping of feet. Not quite the evening we had in mind but still; at least this week’s movie was a better choice!
“Christmas Encore” was the appropriately cheesy title and this time it did not disappoint; delivering the correct level of wholesome Yule Tide romance, with a theatre-saving storyline to boot. How apt!
Today we crack on with a freezable nut roast for Christmas Dinner (pun intended). The Boy “helps” de-shell the pistachios; by which I mean he eats half and knocks the other half on the floor. It takes a really long time to get to 40g!
Later, our lovely friend from a nearby Church delivers a car full of leftover goods from their food ministry to donate to ours. We put most of it in the garage to deliver tomorrow, but, amongst the must-eat-or-freeze-today perishables I notice this bad boy…
Like many sweet sights before him, I take a bite and instantly regret my decision! After managing to palm the rest off via Facebook, I dash out for door-to-door delivery, only to watch the poor recipient drop it upside down on the doorstep and splatter it all over her front door!
So that was worth it.
In the evening, Husband does bedtime solo whilst I edit the aforementioned Nativity video. (Which, by the way, would have been funny and cute, had I not asked a grown man to play the Angel Gabriel… I mean, there’s only so many special effects you can use before you have to admit that watching a 20 odd year old bloke tell a 6 year old girl with no front teeth that she’s pregnant is just plain creepy!)
Anyway. Husband says it’s too late to re-shoot so its on his head, really…
His absolute cuteness, The Boy, has drawn up a timetable for Mummy School V2, and admits to being both sad and excited that we get to do it again. Starting with carpet time, he sticks to his plan religiously. We revisit Rock Kidz Live for P.E, play some phonics games, write an Elf Diary, play Scrabble, and even add in some keepy-uppy number bonds before lunch.
After lunch, we head outside for some fresh air before finishing the day- as planned- with a spot of arts and craft (more on that later). Honestly, the whole day has been a whirlwind of enthusiasm and creative energy; resulting in high levels of gratitude for the many temporarily-forgotten highlights of this bizarre year.
The Boy is a little less attached to his timetable today, and so there’s more room for spontaneous ideas. Such as… dressing up as Superheroes to complete a Super Villain phonics hunt around the house! He decodes a message whilst I- the Super Villain, of course- dart out of the room to hide. Thus unfolds a far-too-familiar predicament in which I find far too good a hiding place and spend the next fifteen minutes holding my breath and wondering if really, I ought to just let the poor kid win?
But… where’s the fun in that?!
In the afternoon, we head back outside; but what results needs a bit of back story. See, one of the things I’ve really valued this year is the opportunity to take more of an active interest in our kids’ education. Last week, I was talking to a friend about her many considerations in choosing a school for her firstborn next year, and realised that our choice was so obvious that I hadn’t really needed to think about it. Most of the things she brought up hadn’t ever crossed my mind. I simply shipped my kids off to the most convenient establishment and trusted the teachers knew what they were doing! But that hasn’t really been an option this year has it? I’ve not only needed to know what they’re learning, but have had to research and experiment with how best to do it!
Now, my friend was pretty passionate about Forest School and time dedicated to outdoor learning; so I looked it up in preparation for this week. In doing so, I found an article emphasising the glory of mud and how therapeutic and beneficial it is to let kids loose in it! Well… as previously noted, our garden is a bog. Nevertheless, Husband has been pretty passionate about preserving it, so I knew I had to win him over first! I mean, it’ll never be a nice garden, but if this article is anything to go by… It could be a home-schooling dream!
Thankfully, he was quite easily persuaded: on the condition that I keep the mud play “controlled and contained”. Not exactly my strong point, hey?! But I really did try!
As a result, yesterday’s mud play turned out like this:
Today’s, however, was something else! Today, we got to half past two before they were desperate to go outside. I suited and booted them, marked out the boundaries, and made it very clear they had fifteen minutes to play before I needed to pick up the Eldest from school. (Remember The Boy is in isolation and cannot come with me!) Come 2.45pm they are still playing beautifully. I had promised Husband that they would be sat mindlessly consuming television when I left, but I simply cannot bring myself to drag them in for that. So, I warn them not to enter the house, then creep into Husband’s office to make my case. Yes, he is about to start an important meeting; but could he please just bring his laptop into the kitchen and keep one eye on the content little wildlings whilst I drive up to school and back in half the time it will realistically take? Please? Don’t believe me… come and see! Just come and see how beautifully they are…
We enter the kitchen and both kids are drenched head to toe in thick oozy mud. One is crying, “it’s in my eye!!!!” Whilst the other is removing her wellies and pouring brown water onto the floor like gravy. Husband looks at me like, ARE YOU FOR REAL?! While both children shout, “I want to come in!!!”
It’s ten minutes past leaving-on-time.
I quickly put a mat down on the kitchen floor for the kids to stand on, while Husband strips off their puddle suits and shouts at me to get going. I’m almost certain he isn’t half as concerned about the carpets as he should be, so I dance about at the door suggesting maybe he could leave instead. However, he has one hand entering a Zoom code and the other frantically flanneling a face, making it very clear his time is not up for negotiation!
I mean, really, it’s such a spouse fail of such epic proportions that I have to laugh as I close the door on the whole scene and get into the car…
Somehow, I don’t think we’ll be Forest Schooling again for a while!
Phonics Play. Nice, safe, computer-based Phonics Play. Nothing more to see here!
Over lunch, Husband reminds me for the umpteenth time this month that he has Antiphons tonight.
“You know… Antiphons!”
“No, I really, really don’t. Sounds like Anglican jargon to me?”
“Oh come on now. We have them every night for a whole week of December, every single year.”
“No way. I have never heard that word in my life!”
“Yes you have. Antiphons: it’s Advent night prayers?”
“Advent night prayers! Well, thats a bit more user friendly isn’t it?! Why didn’t you just say that in the first place?!”
“Because Antiphons is the name you’re supposed to use for them.”
“So how come I’ve never heard it before?”
“Well… Because I only remembered it this week.”
Hashtag: married to a dyslexic Vicar.
Time to complete the craft project.
Now, let me explain. Last week, when The Boy was absolutely heartbroken to be sent home from school, I promised we could do absolutely anything he liked for Mummy School V2. I said I was going to The Range and would pick up materials for any craft project his heart desired. He asked to come with me, I explained that he wasn’t allowed out, and he cried his little heart out again. So, when he finally responded that the thing he wanted to do more than anything else was make a Santa Piniata, I saw no reason not to comply!
No reason whatsoever. I mean, what could possibly be wrong with filling this jolly fellow with sweets…
And beating him with a cricket bat until he coughs up?!
Later, determined to undo Tuesday’s damage, I set The Boy up with the tablet and put The Toddler in the pram to do the school run, leaving Husband to Zoom in peace! The Boy gets strangely argumentative about my plan, however, and repeatedly asks for minor things as I attempt to leave. I lean over him to set up the tablet and feel that his cheek is wet. I ask if he is OK and he bursts into tears, accepts a hug but is unable to communicate the problem. I tell him I love him and perhaps he can tell me when I get back?
Walking to school my heart is breaking just a little. The hysterics I can deal with, but the wet cheeks and silent crying, from a five-year-old, is something else. It bothers me so much that I tell a friend at the school gates, and instantly wish I hadn’t. Her daughter is in the same class, and though she means no harm by it, her response bothers me more.
“Oh no, that’s a shame! You know, I honestly can’t fault mine. They’ve been brilliant throughout this whole lockdown and the last one too. Can’t fault them at all.”
In the moment, I am quick to defend my faultless kids and how well they have coped too… but walking home, the language leaves a bad taste in my mouth. “Fault.” Fault. Fault?! Is it a fault when our very young children struggle to process emotions caused by a situation that most adults are finding unbearable?!
Upon returning home, The Boy tells me that although dedicated tablet-hogging time is a rare treat, he was upset that I took his little sister with me, while Husband was also busy and he was left all alone. Which is pretty understandable really.
“I don’t like being alone.” He communicates at the end of his government-imposed period of isolation.
And we wonder why they struggle to comprehend?
There is much buzz and excitement today as, not only is the Eldest home for the holidays, but The Boy is also freed from isolation, The Lodger is moving in and we are having a Christmas party!
The Lodger arrives at 9.30am, drops off her bags and then… leaves. Turns out she has plans all day that we weren’t aware of! So that’s a slight anti-climax. But, The Boy is off to The Big Asda so he soon gets over it. Meanwhile, the girls and I have fun with a bit of a Christmas invitation-to-play-tray:
And I’m genuinely impressed by this independent effort from the two year old!
In the afternoon comes anti-climax number two, as we are all set for the Christmas party … sparkles on, pass the parcel set, disturbing Piniata at the ready… when the doorbell rings. It’s Husband’s colleague claiming emergency and requesting he go up to Church to sort something out. On his day off. The kids look genuinely crestfallen as he darts out of the door and, while I feel a bit sorry for him too, I also admit to feeling annoyed and promise the kids we can carry on regardless. Thankfully, however, he only misses pass the parcel and two rounds of corners and is home just in time to beat the ket out of Father Christmas…
So that’s good!
At first, all three kids have a good bash. Then, The Youngest gets bored and starts tapping away at a toy laptop, completely indifferent to the situation playing out in front of her. Then, THEN The Boy manages to puncture Santa’s belly, sweets pour out of him and The Youngest suddenly starts to wail!
“Poor Santa!!! Poor Santa!!”
She throws herself on the floor and sobs while the rest of us try not to laugh at the sudden drama- most failing miserably! Eventually, after much cuddling and coddling, she accepts that it’s not real, eats a sweet out of his battered carcass and manages to go to sleep without nightmares! Still, my parents are threatening to send the incriminating evidence to social services- just in case anyone was tempted to beat them to it. Poor child.
The Lodger returns for tea time and I for one am very excited to put the extension leaf in the kitchen table and leave it there! I can’t work out if this nervous energy is just about hosting, or the fact that we haven’t actually entertained anyone new in this house since August! But it is lovely, the kids are thrilled and she seems equally happy to be here. She pretty much slots straight in and doesn’t seem too phased by the teatime chaos. (Which is just as well really, as we are a week away from Christmas day, so the nutty train is pretty much all downhill from here!)
Speaking of which… Husband and I have a Zoom reunion with some friends from college in the evening, and it is exactly the kind of nutty we need to round off the week! By the end of the night, my hands are covered in eyeliner from laugh-until-you-cry tears (and, you know, an aforementioned inability to apply and hang on to eyeliner).
It is an interesting life we are all living right now; but it is definitely more enjoyable with friends.
(By which I mean to thank you too- especially if you read until the end!)
Much love, thanks for reading xx