The worst thing you could do to my children is keep them cooped up indoors for longer than a day or two. They won’t tell you that they want to go outside, they won’t beg to go to the park or anything like that and in fact most of the time when I want to get them out of the house it’s under duress, unless I have some kind of carrot to dangle in front of them for encouragement. But they don’t know what’s good for them though you see, for some reason they think they’d rather stay at home to scream at each other and trash the house as they spiral further and further down into insanity until they get to the point where I just can’t reach them anymore and there’s nothing to be done except take them somewhere with open space and let them run, jump, splash, climb, swing, slide and scream it out of their systems.
And that’s exactly the point that we had gotten to on Thursday morning, after not leaving the house all week. I had already decided the night before that enough was enough. I couldn’t take it anymore, they couldn’t take anymore, and rain or no rain we were going out in the morning. It had to happen.
Because sometimes I clearly don’t know what’s good for me either to be completely honest. I could have taken them out on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. I could have and I probably should have. Yes it was tipping down with rain but when has that ever hurt anyone? Even just a walk around the block with our brollies would have done us all the world of good. But I just didn’t have it in me on Monday, or Tuesday or Wednesday… by which point they were completely bouncing off of the walls and I was building sofa forts out of desperation to try to keep them out of trouble for half an hour. When you don’t have school or preschool to break the day up… that’s a lot of hours to be filled. I don’t know why to be honest, some days I feel like I could take on the world and everything it could throw at me and some days getting us all dressed and out the door seems like a mountain that I just can’t climb. Tiredness, overwhelm, hormones, the weather… they all play a part I guess. Thankfully those days are generally few and far between, usually only a couple of days a month. But don’t you just wish that you could always be the best version of yourself? That everyday you could be on your A game?
But anyway I woke up on Thursday and I knew my only goal for the day was to get these kids out of the house no matter what. They didn’t want to come of course and I had to nag them for every single piece of clothing that needed to go on. But thankfully the rain stopped for us, and as soon as we stepped out the front door I could feel them start to change. Mabel and Greta racing each other to the next lamppost, smiling and laughing and taking it in turns to win, walking next to the pushchair, holding on to the handles with me to cross the road, chatting about the different coloured cars, reading the numbers of the houses and spotting letters in the street names. They listen to me more when we are outside the house, but whether that’s because they realise it’s all the more important so I can keep them safe I don’t know. Whatever it is, I like it.
We arrived at the park and I deliberately took them in the opposite end to usual because I wanted to avoid the area with all the play equipment where I knew that Greta would just want me to push her on the swing for at least 20 minutes, Ernie would continuously try to climb up the slide and then throw himself down it, and Mabel would immediately climb to the top of the highest thing she could find. I didn’t want that today, wanted a simpler park visit. I wanted them just to run around and splash in puddles and for us all to enjoy being together, after a week of frayed tempers. Well if that’s what I wanted, that is pretty much what I got. On top of that I also got 4 soggy socks, 2 saturated pairs of trousers and 4 bare feet squelching inside 4 dripping wellies (they’re still drying out now). Ernie was the only lucky one with a waterproof all in one and wellies that stayed on his feet, so thankfully I didn’t have to worry about him getting wet and cold.
But it didn’t matter how wet the girls got, we didn’t have too far to walk home and it wasn’t freezing cold. They were happy, and I was happy. They were filthy, and I tried not to see the fag butts floating in the puddle they were dipping their toes in… but they weren’t whinging, they weren’t moaning, they weren’t pulling each others hair or arguing over who sat next to me on the sofa. They were just outdoors having fun, and watching them playing, so was I.
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