The summer holidays are romping by terrifyingly fast and far from my original fear of not being able to entertain my imps the two months through we have been so freakin' busy I keep thinking we need a breather. But with such rich pickings of friends that we don't usually see it's hard to say no to one more trip to the woods or a day trip here, a tea party there.
Fi and her boys have featured heavily and given that we both dream the same dream of them remembering childhoods full of adventures with one another and friendships running deep, we get to sculpt some wonderful days and moments, moments and days. Last week we took them to London on the train to the Natural History Museum and Kensington Gardens. The train ride was a hit, the Natural History Museum was hot and clammy and as a result didn't seem to inspire my two as much I had hoped it might. I don't think Zander had quite got going at that point or maybe that’s because I'd told them about the Peter Pan & Captain Hook themed adventure park within the gardens - I should probably learn from this and save extras till afters.
An urban beach with a proper pirate ship - rigging to climb and all. I marvelled at my girls' friend making skills and puzzled over how she managed to hold two ten year old London girls under her intoxicating spell of whimsy. They were sweet and helped her up and down the rigging and made her into a mermaid in the sand in the decks below. One was called Sophie, strangely Gaia collects Sophie’s. Everywhere we go she'll make friends with a Sophie. My boy, he just likes to taste freedom whilst monkeying about and playing hard to get when it comes to getting ready to go. He loves his cousins and he loves his uncle who joined us for the day. We three big ones were all together in the natural history museum for the first time in possibly two decades.
This weekend we had our first sleepover here as the cousins came to stay. I felt great - not only getting the chance to nurture cosiness and moments in my home for all four children but it gave Fiona and Steve a rare and well deserved breather. The fact I barely slept a wink as my senses were on high alert for other peoples kids didn't matter once I'd got pancakes on the go for breakfast as they played Uno together harmoniously.
'Do you make them like your sister does?' enquires James ...
They all like the way Fi and I do many of the same things and have many of the same games. It's familiar, brings comfort and breaks down barriers before they have a chance to establish. I like it too, it brings me a sense of closeness, of sameness to Fiona even though we have our separate lives now we are grown. In many ways we are closer now than we ever have been.
Really it was easier having four of them hooning round the house than just our two. Very little bickering just beautiful playing, oh and hours of excited non-sleeping at bedtime! Par for the course.
And so we really ought to change down a gear this week. I'm learning a lot these holidays - like my kids apparent 'sluggishness' that niggles at me sometimes is in fact bona fide tiredness and the need to chill. Enter the new chill out room. I know they already have a bedroom and the playroom down stairs but this has had a different effect. This room is destined to be Zanders once re-plastered and painted. But in the meantime, though its rough and ready, a few drapes, many cushions and a CD player are facilitating some legitimate sluggishness. I see now how much rest Zander needs and the pressure I put on him to do this and do that. I also remember reading somewhere that simplifying a child's bedroom by moving some toys and clutter elsewhere actually changes how they think about their room and its purpose.
When we do have our feet on the ground at home our lives are mostly full of mud and fairies and cake. Who could want for more!
There are other things that have warmed my summer heart too like when Zander found his heartbeat in his chest with his hand, like both imps trying to master the art of transferring jam from plate to croissant, like finally finding some motivation and tackling the house and the garden in all their wild chaotic splendour. Like boarding our local play boat - a converted narrow boat - on the river to make willow dream catchers and weave and wrap wool like fury round twigs to make mobiles and wands and in so doing, being reminded of my creative heart that's been a shrinking violet of late. Like watching the love blossom again between brother and sister and finding an accidental bramble at the back of our garden with the most amazing crop of berries and like picking up on my boys subtle hint that he loves it when I call him Son.
Peace X X X