On Sunday I took Pepper for a walk with M and Z. Now normally that sentence would have me reaching for the Chardonnay but for a change, it was really, really lovely. They ran with childish abandon with Pepper excitedly jumping and barking at their side. They chattered about what trees and animals they could see and M asked a stream of seemingly random questions as five-year olds do, the connection between which only he knows.
He asked me very seriously whether squirrels do indeed hide their nuts in trees and if so, why? I squashed my automatic response of, ‘To keep them warm because they don’t wear underpants?’ and successfully managed to dispel the mental image that was forming, stifle my juvenile snigger and answer him sensibly.
Neither of the boys moaned or cried. At all. A rare occurrence indeed. They didn’t have sore tummies or legs, they weren’t tired, they didn’t ask to go home, they didn’t ask to be carried, they didn’t argue, they weren’t too hot or too cold, they didn’t stand in dog poo and they didn’t fall (much).
We went to the park on the way home which usually lasts fifteen minutes if we’re lucky, as it’s usually wet or freezing. But on Sunday, like Goldilocks’ porridge, the weather was just right. We took turns spinning each other in the ‘spinning upside down drum’? (Not very technical I know but I don’t know how else to describe it). They were breathless with laughter and loved getting out unsteadily and staggering into each other because they were dizzy.
I took on the alias of ‘The Tickle Troll’ – which meant, in addition to tickling them when they ‘trip-trapped over MY bridge’, I got them as they went down the slide and jumped out from hiding places to grab them and issue that strange pleasure-pain sensation that is tickling (loved by children and (mostly) hated by adults).
I pushed them high on the swings and they giggled so much that passers-by were stopping to watch and smiling to themselves at what is, undoubtedly, the most beautiful sound in the world. I pretended to be picking something up off the floor and feigned being dramatically kicked out of the way when they swung towards me. They almost wet their pants, they were laughing so hard.
And, as always, the more they laughed, the more I laughed. It moved from regular, endorphin-releasing amusement into the realm of full-on belly-laughter; you know, the sort where you’re forced to double over, hold onto something and cross your legs? It was utterly contagious and exhilarating. After an hour we left without any complaints (again, very unusual) and we continued to chat and laugh all the way home.
We’d had a big 5th birthday party for M the day before, with an entertainer, buffet, cake, party bags…the works. Afterwards, when we’d asked him he said he’d had a good time. Fair enough, we were happy with that.
On Sunday, M told me effusively at least four times on the ten minute walk how much fun he’d had. ‘I’ve had a really nice time today, Mummy’ he kept telling me, over and over again. He couldn’t stop saying it. It just kept bubbling out of him.
In contrast to Saturday, I hadn’t spent a penny, just some time with my two younger boys. We’d had fresh air, exercise and loads and loads of giggles. And that’s what it’s all about: all the small things.