Of all of our girls’ toys, right up there in the top ten toys most played with in our house would have to be the playsilks. Father Christmas them each a silk for Christmas 2013 and they’ve rarely been out of circulation since. They’ve been twirly skirts to play at Strictly, tablecloths for teddybear picnics, princess dresses, and added the all important touches to Kitty’s portrayal of Mary meeting the Angel Gabriel on more than one occasion. They were a hit with our then three and one year olds; they’re still enough of a hit that Father Christmas added another one each to the collection this year (already used for some sort of cheerleading and an unintentional Dick Whittington impersonation), and it turns out that Pip is rather fond of them too.
If by “rather fond” we mean “thinks they are the most exciting toy ever; even better than the ones that make funny rattly noises.
He absolutely loves it if we lie on his playmat together and hide under a playsilk or just wave one above out heads, and I’ve never known it not produce an enormous smile.
And now that he’s starting to grab at things it’s been a lot of fun to put the silks somewhere he can reach and watch him work out how to get to them, how to hold on and pull and then how to let go at the other end, or more often than not, how to eat them; well you never know, they might be tasty. I’m sure the appeal for him is all in the fabric; the touch of cool soft silk across his cheeks or between his fingers and the way that it diffuses the light so all you see are gentle beautiful colours but for me it’s all about the moment.
Because even at my standard of housekeeping, keeping our home ticking over, keeping us warm and fed and in clean clothes and in the right place at the right time with the right pack lunch/spare clothes/sports kit is a time consuming occupation. I could easily spend every waking minute keeping the house nice and neat and finally starting to get to sorting out and decluttering, and even if I chose not to do that full time (and if you’ve seen my house even in photos you know that’s I choice I made quite easily) then I want to spend time with H to support and nurture our marriage, to play with the girls and make sure that they are happy, to cherish our little Pip, and if there’s any time left over at the end of all of that, to do the things that make me Carie not just Mummy. Clearly I can’t do all of that; there just isn’t enough of me to do all of that in one day (no matter how much I harbour dreams that it would all fall into place effortlessly if I could only declutter a bit better), and so I have to strike a balance.
Our family of five is busy and noisy and joyful and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I can’t be the only one who finds they’re doing one thing (cooking supper) while also mentally running through everything else that still needs to be done (get the laundry down to the dryer because it’s going to rain tonight; don’t forget the bins; remember Elma needs to be wearing leggings in the morning because it’s gym club; did we put Kitty’s ballet shoes back in the front pocket of the bag last week?). I can turn it off, I’m not kept awake at night by a noisy mental to do list (I have a written one, and yes I do add the things I’ve just done to it, just so I can cross them off again; it’s very satisfying, you should try it some time) but it means that I appreciate those moments of stillness all the more.
And so I think I love playing playsilk tents just as much as Pip. We get to hide away from the rest of the world, to peep out at the rest of the family and play peekaboo with each other, and there’s something about seeing a baby’s wonder and enjoyment in the very simplest of things that melts away the rest of your cares and concerns. If I’m playing with Pip I can’t be anything but completely present in that moment; for one thing his giggles are far too gorgeous to have you take your eyes off him for more than a second.
He looks up at the silk canopy above him, and then over to me, back up again and then turns to me with that expression of sheer delight that says “look at this! Have you seen it!”
And because I’ve been through this twice before I know how fleeting this moments are, how soon they will be replaced by Duplo castles, building blocks and conker soup. And those things are wonderful too, and I know I will want to sit and play with Pip the toddler as much as I do Pip the baby, but right now he’s still my baby Pip.
These pictures were taken on a rare quiet afternoon; Kitty was at nursery and Elma was having a little snooze. The washing up needed doing; the laundry was draped around the house in various states of folded ranging from slightly to not at all, and I knew I ought to make a couple of calls while we were quiet or try to send an email or something measurably productive but the furthest I could bring myself to move was to reach up to grab the camera from the table.
Because his happiness is infectious in the best possible way, and I don’t want to miss a moment.