Something rather miraculous happened today. It was a very small miracle – blink and you might have missed it – but it definitely happened.
My good friend, K, came over for one of our manic six-kid play dates – always a pretty raucous affair – and for a short while after lunch, we had a period of relative peace. We didn’t have to scream at the kids for attacking each other, we didn’t have anyone hanging off our legs, wiping their snotty noses on our jeans. There were, in fact, about 20 minutes when all six kids were playing happily upstairs together.
K and I were able to sit down, have a chat and a cup of tea. With six kids in one small house, ranging from age seven to not quite two, this is a pretty miraculous thing and definitely a first. OK, so it didn’t last more than twenty minutes until someone was hit with a plastic golf club, but it was blissful while it lasted.
It was also highly unexpected. Much as we love meeting up, our play dates are always pretty full on and hectic. Lunch basically consists of everyone lobbing food about, dropping more than they eat and working their way through an entire pack of wipes in the clean up operation. Today I actually thought choc ices would be a good idea for some unknown reason, resulting in two kids having to have complete outfit changes.
With five boys in the mix, much of the play involves bundles and battles. Solo girl M got so bored of all the burgeoning testosterone at one point that she disappeared off to play on her own. But, generally speaking, they all have a fantastic time together. They kinda have to, to be honest, since my friend and I have been mates since long before our six hangers-on came along and we plan to continue throwing all our offspring together for many years to come.
I think today may be the longest conversation the two of us have had together without interruption since becoming parents. We don’t live too close so nights out are not easy to achieve, although we’ve been planning a weekend away for about two years, neither of us ever having had the time around our trios of kids to arrange the damn thing – something we plan to rectify before the year is out.
Today’s play date was particularly heartening as it gave me a glimpse of things becoming a bit easier. And it wasn’t the only thing that has made me hopeful for ever so slightly lazier days ahead recently.
The kids and I went for a double sleepover last weekend with another very good friend and her family. Staying both Friday and Saturday was a first for us and I was a little worried about lack of sleep and bad behaviour from tired kids. But my fears totally failed to materialise. We had a bloody brilliant weekend. Yes, T still screamed his head off at bedtime and woke at the crack of dawn but the kids were really well behaved. And it was all just a tiny bit easier than the last sleepover we had. T is growing up and becoming fractionally easier to deal with as each week passes.
What is also rather wonderful is not being pregnant. I’ve never done the Terrible Twos without being up the duff and, man, does that make a difference? Lugging a kicking and screaming bundle of rage about mid-tantrum is a hell of a lot easier when not negotiating a bump or wanting to vomit or faint.
I think I might actually enjoy the ‘terrible’ twos this time. It is my last chance to experience them after all and, compared to what comes before, I’m not really so sure they are that terrible after all. They offer a slowly improving picture where your child learns to communicate, share, play independently and eat yoghurt without smearing it in his hair. What is so terrible about that?
T is on the cusp of many things. The naps are a-dropping, we’re about to convert his cot into a bed and he wore big boy pyjamas for the first time last night, instead of being bundled into a sleeping bag. All small but significant changes in the life of young T. And significant for our little family too, because each small change makes life a tiny bit easier, a tiny bit less ‘Us and Him’.
Don’t worry, I’m not donning the old rose tinted specs. I’m a old hand with the decidedly terrible bits and I know that many of the changes make things harder at first – I’ll report back on how the big boy bed goes but I’m not holding my breath on the little tyke staying put when instructed. But in the long run, T is slowly becoming one of the gang and less like hard slog.
I always look forward to the play dates K and I have with our six but I think they, along with everything else, may just involve a tiny bit less crowd control and slightly more tea drank whilst still warm in future. Small steps maybe but, given the low base we’re starting from, I’ll grab them with open arms.
T after today’s play date.