A friend of mine likes to point out to her children when they are having idyllic childhoods. Picnics by the river, cuddling piles of squealing kids on a trampoline, gingerbread daleks at Christmas. IDYLLIC CHILDHOOD. Of course, they never do stop and appreciate the moment for what it is – but maybe, maybe pointing it out to them will freeze a photograph style image in their head that they can pull out as an adult.
It also gives us a chance to let the usual layers of maternal guilt slide away for a few minutes and appreciate that, sure, we do so many things wrong, and so many other things just to get by, and there’s no such thing as perfect parents or perfect children, but right this second, we’re doing a good job and they are good kids, and these are the bits we want to remember when they’re glued to Playstation 2020s and grunting unintelligibly at us.
There are many days of their childhood that are so far from idyllic, with the TV blaring and the kids wanting (or actively trying) to kill each other, the days when the lack of a cup of tea can be the difference between making it to 6 o clock or everybody falling in a heap.
“Look, idyllic childhood moment, over there! You go run after it while Mummy has a sit down and breathes into this brown paper bag.”
The girls and I had an idyllic childhood morning yesterday, and I wanted to get it down in pixels so I can remember it next time they are driving me up the wall.
My honey was away overnight for work, so it was just the three of us, and miraculously they woke up in good moods. Clothes were put on, breakfast was eaten, and no dramas. Raeli practiced her piano, and made her own sandwiches for school for the first time (usually Daddy’s job). Jem cuted.
Somehow, between the house and the car, we became pirates. Raeli announced that she was the Captain and Jem was Little Miss Smee. Heading off demarkation disputes at the pass, I announced that I was the Admiral and therefore outranked everybody. Raeli was a *little* dubious as to whether pirates had admirals but I outranked her and so she didn’t get to argue.
Three pirates piled into the car, apparently now named the good ship Bessie, and with atrocious but deeply committed pirate accents, we hoisted the mainsail, swabbed the decks, sailed off across the ocean to reach a certain treasure island. And yes, the ocean had convenient white markings down the middle of it, but the Captain made an excellent navigator, and we got there in great spirit, and not even late for school.
(one of the many piratical conversations in the car came from little Jem, who asked earnestly if we could be GIRL pirates, and I assured her that we could. Possibly she’s a touch young for the impromptu lecture about Grace O’Malley and Anne Bonney, but Raeli seemed to appreciate it)
Unfortunately we were having so much fun that the Admiral failed to notice that the Captain had left her schoolbag in the car, and had to send them ahead so I could run back and get it.
I figured the game was over by the time I reached the classroom with the bag, and reacquired Jem from her big sister, but on the walk together back from the car, a little voice piped up, asking when we were going to dig for treasure.
It was a lovely day and I was in such a good mood from my unexpectedly well behaved children that we stopped to pick daisies, or as we called it, “Treasure.”
“Can I be the Captain now?” asked that same little voice as we headed back to the car. I melted, just a bit, and agreed that she could. Poor little thing, the curse of a younger sister. She’s never going to get to be Captain when Raeli is around. But for a few minutes that morning, until she got bored and forgot about it, Jem was the Baby Pirate Captain Smee, and we sailed the seven seas together.
I was still the Admiral, obviously.