With the exception of a couple of small hiccups, today was a blazing, scorching success (in utter opposition to the weather, which sleeted determinedly throughout) and I can confidently say that the relationships Husby and I have with Niece and Neff are improving rapidly. Not that they were poor to begin with, but rather more distant than they are now.
We’d all been looking forward to a pancake party, hosted at a friend’s house, with many friends in attendance. I’d planned from the offset to take Niece and Neff with us, and was pleased that in the week they’d seemed excited to go (with the caveat that neither ate pancakes so could I provide an alternative lunch for them to stop them from starving to death. Yeah, sure, whatever, no problem) and having informed them yesterday that we’d be doing this, they remained positive – a far cry from my expectations of two slightly shy, potentially grumpy children who didn’t want to engage in socialising.
Husby and I stepping in was all the more welcome for the fact that half the family (my Sister, Mum and Aunty) are laid low with a Dreaded Cold. We think Niece is responsible for sharing it, as she had it first. Neff’s on the mend and Husby and I have yet to succumb.
Hiccup #1 – Husby and I were prepared (packed lunches and all) and in the car with all our gear and pans (I was named chief pancake flipper of the group of friends, so brought my own pans) when the car wouldn’t start. Now, this might be a ‘woman thing’ or a ‘me thing’ but I tend to ignore problems til they’re too big to ignore. Like housework, y’know? Until you can write your name in the dust, or we run out of plates, I don’t wanna know. So the fact that the car’s been a little bit…grumbly, for the last month or so, and somewhat reluctant to start at times, made me think it needs its annual service possibly sooner rather than later. But I did nothing, because hey – it was still working. Until this morning when it wasn’t. The starter went, the engine turned over and zip. Zilch. Nada.
Husby rang his brother in Ireland, one of the best mechanics we know, and explained the situation, then opened the bonnet so BIL could hear the engine doing whatever-it-was as I tried to start the car. The verdict? “Yeah, it’s broken. You’ll need to get a guy round and replace a [something mechanical]”
We rang the mechanic – yes, Monday he’ll come and fix it. We rang my Mum (who had the kids) and let her know, then sent a text saying we’d be late. Then trekked through the sleet
across a vast expanse of city in the freezing cold round a few blocks to Mum’s to pick up the kiddies and borrow her car to take them out in.
We arrived and in spite of cheerful moods, I instantly became The One Safe Place and both kids clung like the proverbial limpets, but soon settled in after being introduced and shown Where Toys Were. My Goddaughter was also there and didn’t remember them, but was happy to play with them and helped them to settle in.
I went to take over cooking pancakes, having been derelict in my duties and left Husby to watch the kids. All was well, pancakes were flying and people were standing round, sitting on assorted chairs and scoffing the good stuff (I love collaborative lunches – I panned the pancakes, our host made the batter, others brought sweet and savoury fillings and veggie sticks and houmus to accompany – no huge outlay for anyone, and all were well fed). Neff chose savoury fillings and Niece copied, and whilst they didn’t finish them, they did eat them and didn’t want the packed lunch. So much for that!
Onto sweet (everyone had to go savoury first) and again, Neff and Niece were firmly in the line-up for more pancakes, and ate them. Huzzah!
Later, our host’s oldest and her assorted friends put on a show for us all, which involved dressing up in fake moustaches, then another play, about a person abandoned by her friend on her birthday, whose fairy godmother then shows up and grants her wish of a pet dog. The pet dog was wonderfully played by one of the children in a dog outfit with a hilarious detachable tail which came off at the most inopportune moments. We all sat round and whooped and cheered as they showed off their creations. Neff and Niece sat on Husby and I, one apiece, and giggled throughout.
Neff and Niece were then persuaded to go off and play with the other kids. Niece made a friend of one of my longest-standing friends and they did some painting together, whilst Neff walked up behind people he wanted to get to know and kinda…roared at them. I can’t describe it any other way, but it seemed to work (he later had a wrestling match with our host’s young son and a giant toy caterpillar) and caused my Goddaughter’s Mum a great deal of hilarity as she explained that she thought the two were ‘of the same social skill set’ (Goddaughter’s usual mode of greeting is a large headbutt to whatever part of you she can reach. She and Neff are both 5…go figure)
They relaxed, they joined in, they had fun (despite what they told their Grandma later) and Husby and I enjoyed ourselves too.
Hiccup #2 came later, after we’d left the party and headed to the shops. Niece had fallen asleep in the car (thank goodness, as she’d been getting rather overtired towards the end) and Husby had joined her in Napland. Neff Zzz-ed off but I woke him once we parked, knowing that he wouldn’t sleep through the night if he napped, and I’d catch it in the neck tomorrow. I got him out, he grumped a little and then as he’d *just* cheered up to the idea and we were walking away from the car, he TOTALLY clocked the wing mirror, full on the forehead. Cue meltdown.
Poor dear, I felt really bad for him, because he’d been trying so hard all day, had woken up pretty reasonably despite being knackered, and then been attacked by the car. He let me soothe him (which is a step forward) and I carried him along the car park to the store, still wailing. Once I’d ascertained there was no blood and the tears had died back a little, I managed to get him giggling by suggesting that we get a mechanic to smack the car’s bum with a wrench, after all, how dare it leap out and attack him with a mirror! He giggled at that and we were back on track.
He pushed the trolley round the shop for me, and apart from a couple of attempts at a run-and-skid, did brilliantly. Not a task he’s been trusted with before (because I tended to find myself running after him yelling as he (and the trolley) careened away down an aisle, inevitably headed for something breakable and expensive) and he rose to the challenge.
Once back home, we watched Kipper, played games of Pik-a-Stik and snuggled til it was time to go back to Grandma’s, taking ‘get well soon’ presents for everyone afflicted with The Dreaded Cold. Niece then didn’t want me to go (which was sweet) but soon got distracted by Play-Doh. I returned home pondering my lovely day (and a few other things) and ended up waxing quite lyrical.
One of the blogs in yesterday’s Finish The Sentence Friday had posted some clever 10-line poems, where the first line had one syllable, the second line two and so on. I gave it a bit of a go as I walked home through the rain, and was rather pleased with myself as I hadn’t poetried for ages.
The other thing I pondered was a remark said to me in a comment by a blogger I’ve recently started following. With reference to his wife, he said (and I probably paraphrase here) “She makes it easy for me to be me”, which struck me quite deeply, as I think that’s vitally important and also something I’m not good at with Husby (I’m sure he’d tell you I’m quite domineering and bossy). It’s a lesson I’m going to try to learn.
With no further ado, then, and to end on a literary note, my 10-line-thingummies.