We’d got all the coats out, found the welly boots in the garage (that Hubbie tidied away last night), got the dog sorted and even called into Aldi on the way to the park so we could save a bit of money and have a picnic. Picnics are fabulous; eating outside with the threat of a bug landing in your sandwich is always fabulous no matter your age.
The weather was beautiful; cold but sunny and if you kept walking you were warm. I was really looking forward to getting out again.
I thought I’d try and take a lovely photo. This, I know realise, was a silly thing to do. To plan to take a photo of 4 children with a dog running around on a long lead (he buggers off if he sees another dog so we have to keep him on the lead when we go to a busy place) with a picnic and open bottles of water was clearly a very stupid idea.
F decided that she didn’t like Monday, or the sun, of the wind, or walking or eating or, in fact, anything to do with what we were all enjoying at that moment. She decided to put her age 2 boots firmly in the middle of our activity by refusing to move and just standing still and screaming.
And boy can she scream
I was very close to loosing the plot as I had 1 near teen not quite sulking but threatening to at any minute and 2 others nearly at the top of a very tall tree (giving each other climbing tips, my how that climbing course as paid off). The dog, meanwhile, was running around like a lunatic so actually he was really having a fabulous time.
The screaming continued.
‘I not want to see ducks, I WANT TO GO TO THE PARK!!!!’ was shouted at me.
I took a deep breath.
She locked horns with me again.
‘I TIRED MUMMY!!!!’
I have to say having more than 1 child has really changed my parenting. If my first child had said that, I would have been the parent (and I was) that gave clear instructions as to what I wanted to happen and the consequences as to what would happen if it didn’t and I would follow through. If O was a pickle I’d tell him that he couldn’t be a pickle or we’d go home. And we did. Only a few times as he got the measure of me and then he just behaved.
Now, when you have 2 you can still do this to a point and I did. 3 made trips out a bit more interesting but nothing to write home about.
Yes 4, with an age gap of 10 years between the oldest, 7 years the next and 5 years the youngest of the sons, is not easy.
I wanted to frog march her to the car as I knew she just wanted her own way but I had 2 boys up a tree loving climbing, a dog running about freely with his tongue lolling about and the near teen was actually smiling in between threats of sulking. I didn’t want to take them home again.
So I decided to compromise. I said we needed to walk to the far tree and then we’d go to the park.
As soon as I said the word park she stopped crying and was very chipper.
The near teen was not impressed.
‘She was putting that on!!!!’ he said.
‘Yes’ I answered, ‘it appears she was.’
We then walked up to the park and O said he’d happily sit outside with the dog (who was going batty at this point as there were lots of other dogs he wanted to play with). The 2 boys went into the larger park and F and I went into the toddler park.
‘I want to go on the seesaw’ she said.
‘You can in a minute as someone else is on it’ I said.
‘I want to go on the seesaw’ she said again.
‘Yes’ I said, ‘you can, but you have to wait your turn!’
She wasn’t happy. She started to scream again but there was no shifting the situation. She had to simply wait. Yes, the child on the seesaw was about 12 and shouldn’t have even been in the toddler area but that’s for another blog and actually, just this once, I was grateful to have something concrete she could see that was immovable. This wasn’t just Mummy being annoying; there was actually something in the way.
I managed to get her to have a go on a swing but she would not stop staring at the seesaw.
This is not the face of someone who wants to be on the swing.
This is the face of who someone who wants to be on the seesaw.
So F got her go, the boys got their park fun too and O sat holding the dog while complaining about his aching legs (growing pains we think).
I didn’t get that family photo of my 4 beautiful children sitting on a tree stump on a late winters sunny day.
Instead I got a sharp reminder that my family is one that has a near teenager and a ‘threenager’ and that’s not always easy. If I’m honest I know I only have a little time left of family walks with the dog in the park as the near teenager will soon not want to come out. It saddens me to think that I don’t have many late winter walks left with all the 4 children.
I think that’s why I wanted the photo really. I see they are all growing up and I am so proud of who they are becoming I don’t regret them growing up at all but I do see that just as my family has changed from a family of 3 as each new baby came in to make us a larger one that this family will change again.
Maybe I’ll get the photo sometime soon. Maybe I won’t. Maybe that’ll be the photo that was never taken, the one that stays in my minds eye as a memory that’s meant just for me…