My four-day stint with Neff, Niece and Sis has been a resounding success. I’ve loved (nearly) every minute of it. For those readers with kids, I am aware that this is probably because three days isn’t enough time for the novelty to wear off. However, I stand by the fact that it was lovely, I enjoyed myself, and my relationships with the kids are better than ever.
Day 1 – Sunday
The plan was to take them all to church. My local church is on the route from my house to the shops and each week, when I’ve had Niece with me, she’s asked “In church?” every time we passed by. I promised I’d take her one day and Sunday was meant to be the day. I arrived with all my bags and chattels to find Neff screaming in pain (though approximately 75% of the screaming can be attributed to sheer Drama, with this boy), Sis on the phone to the dentist and my Mum explaining that he’d eaten a Pepperami with a hard bit in it and his tooth was banjaxed.
Appointment made and Neff convinced to accept a mouthful of Calpol, I suggested that actually, church might be a good distraction if he felt up to it. He did, so we went and he listened avidly to the songs, joined in with the participation-y bits and generally enjoyed himself. He very sweetly sat on my lap throughout and every so often snuck a look at me (when he didn’t think I could see him) to see what I was doing and pulled various faces of astonishment/hilarity/puzzlement.
The dentist was fun – we arrived at the appointed hour to be told that one of the dentists hadn’t turned up, so there was an hour to wait. We waited. Oh boy did we wait!
One hour later and he was seen for FIVE minutes and discharged with a prescription for precautionary antibiotics (?!) and a diagnosis of a “Wobbly tooth”. Gee, thanks!
I can’t remember much of the afternoon. Food shopping happened at some point because we realised that there probably wasn’t enough to feed a group of four. I also bought a DVD of Liz Taylor’s Cleopatra, which is one of Those Films You’re Meant To Watch But Never Have. It was cheap, so I don’t mind too much if I hate it.
We rounded the day off with lovely roast dinner, cooked by Sis.
Day 2 – Monday
Was awoken reasonably early by Noises From The Next Room, which they all share. Discovered the hard way that any time before 10am, Sis leaves her body, which is then inhabited by a mean, beastly Grouch. Felt pretty good about getting the kids up and breakfasted and busy without resorting to TV (which, at that point, I didn’t know how to operate). Neff was still a little worried about his tooth and somehow couldn’t eat bread but could manage Cinnamon Toast Crunch – go figure! I even managed to wash up.
By the time Sis arose, the morning was nearly gone. She zizzed on the sofa (I’m sure half-term holidays are *meant* to be for parents, too, right?) and I sorted lunch. I had my counseling appointment at 1, so woke her up to take over and later, afterwards, discovered that she and I are much alike in out highly negative assessment of our own self-worth (which, logically, we know is ridiculous, as we each find MUCH to value about each other…such is the nature of childhood scars)
We dropped in on Husby so that I could take him food shopping. Niece came with Husby and I whilst Sis and Neff stayed at our house. Upon return, Sis had done my washing up (slatternly-ly accumulated over the weekend and left) and Neff was happy on the computer. Forgot the code for the broken radio in the car, which I had meant to pick up, and needed to take Neff for extra chocolate as (apparently) the treat chosen (to share with him) by Niece at the supermarket was unacceptable. He chose a Kinder egg (there wasn’t one in the first shop, so Niece, Neff and I walked to the next nearest shop, turning one small item of confectionary into something of a mission) then ate a little, decided it hurt his tooth and took just the toy in the centre. At least Niece and I benefitted from his decision.
And, most importantly, I realised for the first time that Kinder eggs, as well as being utterly delicious, have brown chocolate on the outside, like a hen’s egg, and white chocolate in the middle, like the white of the egg, and then the toy case is yellow, like the yolk. I’ve enjoyed these since CHILDHOOD and never figured this out. Apparently the blindingly obvious can whistle right over my head in a riot of oblivion.
I cooked gorgeous chinese-style chicken noodles with fennel (which I’ve never used before but should have – it’s lovely) and Sis, Niece and I all tucked in. Neff went for noodles, hit his tooth with a chopstick and that was it – tiredness + sudden, unexpected mouth-pain = meltdown. Poor chap. By the time he calmed down and ate some pudding, it was too late to have a bath, and in desperate pining for his normal routine, he had another meltdown, just for good measure.
Bed for kiddies and (for Sis and I) trash TV and a run at the Big Bang Theory trivia game. Great fun and really quite tricky to predict who’ll win, as the winning mechanic has a sneaky hidden loophole. I won, in the end, so felt quite suitably Big Sisterish.
Day 3 – Tuesday
Another early start, but a leisurely breakfast. Neff on his DS, Niece on her Mobigo (a kind of pre-DS) and I with my terribly old-fashioned Book. In the end, I was pleased to note, the book held most sway, and I spent at least half an hour reading out loud to both children (in various stages of sitting on my lap or climbing the more accessible parts of me) about why handwriting is Interesting, Important and Endangered. Books 1 – 0 Computer games.
More appointments, this time for Sis. And I realised that a dear friend was due a birthday and I had nothing planned (she’s notoriously difficult to buy for – I’m not sure why. I think sometimes I get a mental block about certain people, whereas for others, I can find multiple things which would suit). I decided to utilise Sis’s absence to take Neff and Niece to a local garden/home centre and Find Something Suitable. I succeeded and also accidentally (but usefully) picked up a gorgeous present for Mum for Mother’s Day (March 10th, folks in the UK), which I’ll tell you about once she’s had it.
I also had to have
several hundred a word with Niece about Not Touching Things. I asked nicely, I told, I commanded, she touched, Things Fell Off Shelves, I yelled, she cried, I felt bad and soothed her. She didn’t do it again.
The shop next door was a craft superstore, so we went for a look and came out with 3D cardboard initials and an ‘&’. Niece wanted her letter, Neff wanted the ampersand, so I chose his letter and some paints. Later on, we painted them and I tried very hard to teach Niece how to paintbrush. Someone may have tried to teach her this previously but may have used a spoon…I’m not sure. That was certainly the style she was using.
Bizarre note on the weather; less than a month ago it was snowing heavily and we were all terribly fed up of the cold. Tuesday afternoon, Niece, Neff and two of their mates had a water-pistol fight outside. They all got wet but continued for the best part of an hour. Yes, I was still wearing a coat, but they were in T-Shirts and insisting they were having fun. I put a stop to it in the end by creating (what shall henceforth be known as) a volcano bath; the water was apparently super-hot (I think they were just cold as it was only warm to my skin) and used a balloon whisk to make HUGE amounts of bubbles.
Day 4 – Wednesday
The usual wake-up call of kiddies chatting in the next room and the Grouch Which Inhabits My Sister (before 10am) retaliating in a, well, grouchy, way heralded the end of my last night with them. I felt a bit sad in that way you get on the Last Day of Something Great as I went to go and hoik them out of bed. A double nappy-splosion quickly put an end to any feelings of nostalgic contemplation as I went into quicksortitoutnow mode. Once changed and sheets dumped in the wash, I fixed the breakfast and for the first time had to stand my ground about no crisps this early in the morning Because I Said So.
Later, whilst washing up, Neff had found his double-bladed axe (toy) and was busy informing me in a Large Voice that he was from Thundercats and had to defeat Mumm-Ra. He then told me (and Niece) that she was Mumm-Ra, was the source of evil, and he would have to fight her. He began enthusiastically to the point that I uttered one of those sentences you’d never utter unless you have kids, or know kids, in which case it makes perfect sense;
I don’t think there’s enough space to fight evil in the kitchen, dear!
There really wasn’t, though. So he took off to vanquish evil sorcerers elsewhere and Niece looked on (with, I fancied, a gleam of relief and gratitude in her eye) as I completed the washing up.
Then we all got up and went to the beach. We talked en route about the picnic we’d planned and when we arrived, I convinced Neff that if he sat on my picnic blanket with the rubber underneath, he wouldn’t get wet from the sand. Sis and I got out to fetch the picnic bags from the boot, took one shudderingly cold breath each and suddenly decided to eat in the car.
Later, we booted up (Neff and I in full-body-cover waterproofs) and went to see the sea. The tide was out and while Sis and Niece stayed pretty much on-shore, Neff and I charged through the waves, holding hands, kicking the tiny crests of waves, running away from them, jumping over them and generally loving that we weren’t getting wet. Until his socks got wet. Oh well.
There were lots of weird green jelly balls all over the shore and we poked them and wondered what they were. I’ve since discovered they are the egg balls of paddleworms, a beach-dwelling polychaete worm. Now we know!
Upon return, Sis and the kids did some baking and I did some napping in front of the TV. I packed and left (a little sorrowfully) knowing that hopefully I can do the same in the Easter Holidays. I had an absolute blast.
I returned home to Poor Abandoned Husby, who’d gotten on really well with sorting things for the future and organising a little more what type of thing he might do once he’s well enough to go back to work. I enjoyed a gorrrgeous warm shower while he cooked for me, and once I thawed out and had eaten, was much less of a narky Wifey.
But, four days with no WiFi! I have missed you all.
And before you go, take a moment to submit today’s vote for Vulcan as the name for Pluto’s Moon
There are only 5 days left to vote – SETI needs you!