THURSDAY FEBRUARY 23RD
My last day of children responsibility! I am sad to think of this, especially now that I am getting into the swing of it all. This has been the first time I have had such responsibility for the Young family. I looked after 2-year-old Clemmie when Lex was waiting for Monty to be born. I looked after Clemmie and Monty when we were waiting for Juni to appear. But not the three of them for three whole days like this, and it’s been 37 years since Barney was Juni’s age!
Clemmie has a whole day’s activity booked at the local leisure centre with her friend, so today I have only two children to enjoy, with only two targets to achieve. One – get to the library and return the two well overdue items that I did manage to locate. Two – go to the park and let Juni enjoy the swings and slides for an extended time. She deserves this after the previously aborted attempts.
One thing stands in my way, and that is Storm Doris.
People have been killed and lorries overturned as this vicious lady rampages across the country. Outside in the garden we can see angry squalling wind, ripping the cloth off the table in two pieces and threatening more.
But we are BRITISH- and I resolve that no bit of a breeze will deter me from my tasks. Once I had cleared away the breakfast mess, I got the two children ready with no arguments about socks and bare legs, put The Snack in my bag and off we went. Doris blew us along and up the hill to the park, where we made it to the play area, through all the mud that she had been busy making during the night. Juni had the play that I had promised, until we all got really fed up with the battle against the wind and cold and decided to go to the skateboard park for Monty to play with his football. Once we had struggled there across even more mud, and Monty had played for all of two minutes, we sat and had The Snack and prepared to go to the library.
I envisaged that this would be a treat, and worth the battle up the long, steep hill with two little children, stoically attempting to stay cheerful in spite of the wind.
Good thinking GrannieJazz! But misguided. The unapologetic library door-sign said “CLOSED” , and the little building bore all the signs of abandonment.
“Hot Chocolate at Costa!”, I shouted above the gale, and the two of them managed a thin smile. The wind that had blown us up the hill to the library was now against us going down again towards Costa. This was hard work for me, pushing the buggy, but for poor little Monty, only 6 years old and very light, it was a nightmare. He gritted his teeth and battled on, never complaining one little bit.
By the time we got there, it was all we could do to push open the door and stagger in. I had no mental energy left to remember that we had together traversed some pretty deep mud in the park, and that the wind had dried this to a crisp and brittle consistency on the buggy wheels. I chose a seat towards the back of the coffee shop, where there was a comfy sofa and turned my back on the trail of filth and hideousness leading from the door to the guilty buggy.
Monty straight away lay on the sofa in an exhausted blob, manfully trying to do as I asked and keep his feet off the upholstery. Perky Juny, who was the only one spared Storm Doris, sat happily consuming her hot chocolate with a spoon, spilling as much down herself as into her mouth.
So there we sat, surrounded by mud, Monty asleep and Juni absorbed in spraying milky chocolate everywhere, and me, hating the too-sweet chocolate I had ordered and just wanting to be back at 46 Stanford Avenue.
Patiently, I waited for Juni to finish, woke Monty up to drink his own, and then began the task of dressing us all to meet Doris again.
By the time we got back, we were all just happy to flop about and be grateful to be out of that cold wind.
Lex has installed a star-system for the two eldest children. They get a star for good work or for being exceptional, and can get a cross for naughtiness. So many crosses delete a star. If they get a full complement of stars during the course of a week, then they get a prize. They love this challenge, and I gave Clemmie a star on Tuesday for being a gem and helping a lot with Monty and Juni. Today I gave Monty a star for just being a star ! He had been a little trooper and had not complained or lost his temper once all day. He had played patiently with Juni, even when she got a bit grumpy. (Monty frequently gets a cross for losing his temper and saying the prohibited words idiot (shhh!) or stupid (shhhh again!). Little love that he is, he looked mystified when I awarded him a star – he had just not been aware of how good he had been!!
Clemmie didn’t come back until just after seven, and Lex arrived home at 7.14, exhausted after a three-hour journey from work. Doris had caused the cancellation of public transport willy-nilly, so it was 9 o’clock before Dan got home. There had been just one short train out of London all rush-hour, so he felt privileged to be home at all ! The forecast is better for tomorrow, so my journey back to Spain should be OK..
Lex cooked us a special last-night meal which we all relished after such a day, embellished with a nice red wine. The last-night playing of games and celebration was cancelled in favour of us all tottering into a welcome bed!