Once upon a time there were two little girls with two little sisters whose Daddies worked very very hard. And sometimes that meant that the Daddies had to go away on business trips, and sometimes it meant that they were working on a Saturday and not at home to take the little girls to ballet class or to play football in the garden, or do painting or jumping up and down or any of the usual Daddy things.
So the Mummies, realising that they were solo parenting at the same time, came up with a plan. A plan that involved swings and slides and splash pools and a picnic, the beautiful sunny outdoors and time spent with friends, even if it was for the second day running.
And so Kitty, Elma and I found ourselves loading up the car with swimming cozzies and towels and bagels and party football biscuits and heading down to the park to meet up with our friends. Little Miss U is exactly a week younger than Kitty, the advantage of having made friends through NCT class, and they’ve know each other all their lives with an easy, sisterly sort of friendship, and the baby sisters, while a little further apart in age, are close enough to recognise each other happily. It’s a good mix.
We hit the splash pad first; Kitty plunging in like the water baby come mermaid she’s always been, with Little L desperately trying to follow; and when Elma figured out that it was just like a giant and rather splashy bath she was all for it, cruising up and down the rim of the pool pouring water from a squished plastic cup that Kitty had found. It was pretty heaving on a Saturday afternoon though so I think we’ll have to head back at some point when it’s a little calmer!
We had fun at the play park too; the big girls had a go on the roundabout and on a wibble wobble board while the little ones made a beeline for the baby swings, but the highlight was the picnic.
Or perhaps to be more accurate, the moments after we’d finished eating. We’d pitched camp earlier, spreading rugs and quilts under the trees on the edge of the meadow and once the girls had finished eating they were free to run as long as they stayed in sight. Elma and Little L tottered fairly near home, trying out one Mummy’s cuddles after another, and in Elma’s case, giving some very suspicious looks if anyone else started to look too comfy on my lap, but the big girls were off. They ran enormous circles out into the sunshine, then came back for Miss U’s toy car and bouncy ball which they took out into the park a little way away from us and sat there, two little heads together, considering, discussing and plotting I don’t know what, before coming racing back leaving the pink ball nestled in the grass like a most unconventional egg to be retrieved at a later date.
When the big girls were babies we Mummies seemed to have all the time in the world to sit and chat, about the children (it was an NCT group after all), about plans for the future, and everything else under the sun. Then of course the babies grew into tiny people who needed their own Mama, their own routine, their own interaction, and our conversations became a little more piecemeal; carried on with a counterpoint of “yes”, “no”, and “you want to do what?”. It’s always been fun watching the children play together, but now that we’ve definitely crossed that point at which they’re really truly playing together, not just in the same space, it’s not only fun, it’s (and I hesitate to say this for fear of jinxing us), it’s kind of easier. We watch them (and there’s a definite advantage to two pairs of eyes keeping watch) but we’re not mediating, or directing them like we used to.
And that of course means a little more time for us to catch up. We talked about the girls, (I think we always will), but also about plans for the future, about photography, about the creative energy that I got from Blogtacular, and about the things that make us more than just Mummies. And yes, we’d still have to break off to ask the girls to run the other way, or to rescue one of the babies making a big for a second dip in the splash pool, but it was on the whole wonderfully, and a little bit surprisingly, relaxing; just hanging out all together.
It’s made me think about that rather cliched phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child”. Hearing it as a parent you always think about it in the context of having a whole raft of adults to help out with the childcare, and to be positive influences on your children. And when you don’t have that village at your beck and call because of geography or any one of a number of perfectly excellent reasons, and you’re desperately trying to do it all, and be it all, it does rather make you feel like you’re doomed to failure. But perhaps the village is bigger than I thought; the village is as much the adults as it is the other children, the companions in all of their adventures that are far too exciting to let a Mummy in on. In time I think the baby sisters might fulfil that role, but cute and adorable as Little L and Elma are at the moment, they’re not too good at doing what they’re told when it comes to an all important game of ‘train to London’, and they might try to chew the wood chip tickets!
But put Kitty and Miss U together and they’ll try to conquer the world, or at the very least the flagpole.