Isn’t spring just brilliant. Whether you believe it starts on February 1st, March 1s or mid-March (I need guidance on this – my kids are asking every day on which date does summer start) it’s all good. Longer evenings, brighter, (theoretically) warmer weather, and a casting of clouts all about – or at least the duvet coat.
My two daughters have recently discovered the delights of “going down to the green” – they call to their friend, take out bikes and scooters, footballs and hockey sticks, and I don’t see them for hours. Well, minutes. But still – it’s a big step on the independence journey. Throughout the Easter holidays, the girls played out the front, and the small boy mostly bumbled around the back garden, making potions, playing the drums, and harvesting (apparently).
Meanwhile, I was indoors, making dinners and getting sneaky bits of work done. It is amazing what you can get done when all three kids are finally old enough to amuse themselves. Peace, calm, time. At last.
But. It’s all over. The small boy has decided that going down the green is where it’s at. As soon as the girls ask in hushed voices (they can recognise my “whisper it!” expression now) he jumps up and says he’s going too. I try to distract him with Lego and K’nex and helping me with dinner, but he’s on his bike before the words are out of my mouth. And I look at his determined little face, and of course I can’t say no. And anyway, what kind of mother would I be if I kept my four-year-old trapped in the house just because I didn’t want to go out myself? (A warmer, saner mother, but that’s beside the point.)
So I grab my jacket, my keys, and sometimes a cup of tea, and out we go. Down to the green.
Now, I am certain there are four-year-olds who could be trusted to go out alone, but mine isn’t one of them. Last Friday, I let him go out just on front of our house, with his big sister, while I was in the kitchen with the front door open. I could see him and hear him, but there was a measure of independence. Baby steps. However on four separate occasions, I looked out to see him stopped in the middle of the road on his bike, with a car waiting to get by. I ran out each time and moved him off the road, explaining again that when a car comes, you have to get in to the side. He nodded, and agreed, but then did it again. So going to the green on his own just isn’t an option.
Well, except when he just goes without asking, which is my other trial to overcome:
It feels a bit like parenting in general – two steps forward, one step back. Every time we reach a new milestone or say goodbye to something we don’t need anymore, there’s an unexpected twist. Like moving from car seat to booster, except three booster seats don’t fit across the back now. Like getting rid of the buggy, but realising that walking (or not walking as the case may be) takes infinitely longer.
And it’s been like that from the very beginning – like when the first baby starts to walk, and before the applause dies down, you realise that no coffee shop trip will ever be the same again. Or when the excitement of weaning to solids is quickly replaced with visions of a future spent chopping and peeling sweet potato.
Of course, it is what it is – and really, would we have it any other way?
So I am getting ready to spend my spring afternoons, and my entire days of summer down on that green, supervising an enthusiastic preschooler. No dinners will be cooked, no work will be done. The house will remain in an even worse state than it’s already in. And it will be cold.
He will have great fun, so there’s that. And he’ll get fresh air and exercise, which is wonderful. And I might even enjoy myself too, apart from the cold and the getting nothing done.
I take heart only in one thing – it’s Ireland – I can count on being rescued occasionally by rain.
PS the videos above are from Snapchat – I joined Snapchat about six months ago but only just figured out how to use it. Actually, I don’t really know how to use it. Anyway, if you’re on there too, I’m OfficeMumDub. It helps make the trips to the green more interesting.