This Easter holidays, along with some very nice things (like getting keys to our new house – hurrah!) the kids and I did the following:
- Went to a tile shop and picked tiles
- Bought a towel rail
- Went to a kitchen shop and picked cupboards
- Went to the new house to meet the painter
- Went to the new house to meet the wardrobe fitter
- Sat in the garden reading books
- Played football (more them than me)
- Built an insect orphanage (definitely more them than me)
- Went to the library
- Went for coffee and cake *a number* of times
- Went to see Dumbo
- Bought a soap dispenser we’ll probably never actually fill with soap, but it’s pretty
Time taken off work: An unprecedented two weeks
Number of daytrips: That’d be a big roundy zero
My kids, understandably, asked occasionally if we’d be doing anything exciting (though in their defence, not as often as I expected). I, too, did begin to wonder – I mean, I could see Facebook. I could see the mini-breaks and the sunshiney holidays and the day trips. And though we don’t usually go away at Easter, we do usually fit in a few day trips – zero is a pretty low number, especially for my first time taking the full two weeks off work.
Here’s the thing – the thing that struck me on the second-last day of the holidays, as I queued up to speak to a man in a kitchen shop, and the kids ambled around looking at cupboards – I am officially now a parent who can bring my kids places without getting in a blind sweaty bribe-yielding panic.
My kids have reached that magical age – I can finally take them all to a tile shop or a kitchen showroom and nothing goes wrong. Nobody has a tantrum, nobody needs food. Yeah, they play hide and seek and I have to tell them to stop running every now and then (they’ve perfected a Rob Heffernan style “walk” that facilitates hot denials of any kind of running) but I’m free to talk to whatever person is charging me hundreds of euro for plain cream tiles in a modest-sized kitchen.
And I think back to all the other times – times I was out of bread or milk, and concocted all sorts of plan to avoid bringing three children to the shop. Like when they were four, two, and zero, and I used to consider driving over to my dad’s to pick him up so he could sit in the car with the kids while I went into the shop. Because that extra round trip and inconvenience genuinely seemed easier than bringing them all into the shop. I never did it – I just did without the bread or the milk (and still drink black tea to this day).
The fear that they’d cry, fight, scatter, disappear. The work involved to lift, buckle, remove, repeat. The trolleys. The tears. The tantrums. The terror. Back-to-work FEAR had nothing on shops-with-three-kids-under-five FEAR for my former self.
And somehow, while I wasn’t looking, we came out the other side. I can bring the three of them to the cinema and I don’t have to tell anyone to stop talking. I can bring the three of them for something to eat, and it’s okay if I forget to bring the colouring. I can bring them to the shop and leave again without anyone begging for treats or running away or lying in the middle of the aisle crying about mayonnaise (true story).
So if you have two-under-four or three-under-five, and you’re drinking black tea because you just can’t bear going to the shop, don’t worry. You’ll get there (literally and metaphorically). You might not notice it happening, but some day you’ll bring them to a tile shop without worrying they’ll destroy it in front of your eyes. And even better, you won’t even realise it till you’re home with a cup of any-way-you-like-it tea.