After a most glorious summer, it’s finally time to try and remember what to do with kids in the wet weather – especially little man who has peaks of energy that are no so easily contained now he’s getting bigger. Last winter we let them scoot up and down the kitchen, but I don’t think their scooters or my kitchen cabinets will survive it now they’re older (and better at scooting!)
We’re even wondering if we can fit a trampoline in our playroom for little man to bounce off his excess energy. There are only so many times I can find the wherewithal to dress him in waterproofs and spend time outdoors with him in the freezing rain so he can jump in puddles. I’m feeling the cold in my old age!
Hubbie and I have managed to come up with a few indoor games. Simon Says is becoming a favourite, although my brain runs out of ideas after about ten minutes. Obstacle courses are well received – I did one yesterday with a role play element: They had to dress up and run back in character (for example wearing wings, holding a flower and flapping their arms singing “I’m a butterfly”. Wish I’d videod little man doing it.)
My current favourite is people bowling. That sounds as politically correct as dwarf tossing doesn’t it? I refer you to the pictures! We find all the toy people and set them up as pins before knocking them down with a basketball. They stay up and fall down better than the stupid soft skittles the kids have. It doesn’t use much energy, but it whiles away half an hour!
How do you wear out the little ones in winter (when their sister has started school so they’re not busy wearing each other out running round the house screaming, like the Weetabix boy)? All suggestions gratefully received!
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
“Hello, Mrs Jenkins, lovely to see you.”
Claire shuffled her feet as the woman opened the door, and the smile on her face felt more like a grimace. The closer they had got to Kim’s parents’ house, the greater the number of butterflies in her tummy. She hadn’t spoken to Kim’s mum since the wedding, and she had no idea whether she, too, blamed her for her daughter’s miscarriage.
“Claire! Come in, come in. My, you girls made good time.” She held the door open, ushering Claire and Kim into the hallway.
“Hi, Mum,” Kim muttered, wrapping her arms around herself. Her mum moved towards her, as if to give her a hug, but stepped back again and quietly closed the door.
“Go into the kitchen, we’ll have some tea,” she called, as Claire and Kim headed down the corridor.
Claire felt a warm contentment wrap around her as she walked down the familiar hallway, following the patterned tiles that danced like summer flowers all the way to the kitchen at the back of the house. The place hadn’t changed much since she’d last visited and she tried to work out how many years ago that had been.
“Gosh, it only seems like yesterday you girls were here for the summer,” Mrs Jenkins said as she bustled into the kitchen behind them.
Claire smiled at the memory, wincing only slightly as she worked out it had been nearly ten years before.
“It was very kind of you to let me stay, Mrs Jenkins.”
She remembered the few weeks she and Kim had worked together in a local hotel, during their first university vacation. Kim’s parents’ had only just moved to the house, having decided to leave the area where Kim grew up after she left home to go to university.
Kim had resented the move but, looking round, Claire couldn’t blame the Jenkins at all. Upping sticks to the West Country gave them a lot more house for their money. The beautiful detached property, surrounded by lawns and mature trees, was like a mansion compared to the small terrace Kim had grown up in.
“You were never any bother, Claire. It was good to see my Kim having fun.” She smiled fondly at her daughter, ignoring the sullen frown on Kim’s face. “Thank you for bringing her home to me. This is where she belongs.”
The word home resonated through Claire like the chime of a bell. That was it: this place was a home. Every detail, from the cat asleep on the comfy sofa in the conservatory, to the muddy boots and raincoats they’d passed in the hallway. It was a million miles away from the sterile magnolia box her parents called home.
“Would you like some tea?” Mrs Jenkins moved into the kitchen without waiting for an answer.
Kim wandered into the conservatory and curled up on the sofa next to the cat. As she turned to stare out the window at the garden beyond, the sun highlighted the bags under her eyes and emphasised the grey hue of her skin.
Claire went to stand close to Kim’s mother, while the woman took mugs from a cupboard.
“How is she?” Mrs Jenkins murmured.
Claire glanced over at Kim to see if she was listening. Her face was still hidden, so Claire risked answering in a low voice. “Not great. Her world seems so black; I can’t get through to her. She needs some space, I think, and someone who can watch over her, make sure she eats.”
Mrs Jenkins nodded, as she poured water into a floral teapot. “I suggested she come home, when I saw her in the hospital, but she didn’t seem keen.”
“She still isn’t, I’m afraid.” Claire thought it safer to be honest. “She’s worried you’re going to fuss over her.” Her ears rang as she realised how cruel her words sounded. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to say that.”
“Nonsense, dear, it’s only the truth. I don’t mean to fuss. But with her sister moving overseas straight from university, I probably did cling on a bit too tightly. It’s hard, when they fly the nest.” She sighed. Then, placing the cups and the teapot onto a tray, she carried them through to the conservatory.
“Would you like some tea, Kim?” Her voice sounded light but Claire was watching her face and saw the worry in her eyes.
Kim merely shook her head and continued to stare out of the window. Mrs Jenkins poured tea for herself and Claire and the women sat at the table.
“Will you stay the night?” She smiled at Claire, who shook her head.
“I can’t, I’m afraid. I need to catch a train back south at half past two. I’ve only just started a new job and I can’t afford to take time off right now. I’m hoping I’ll be able to come and see Kim in a week or two, if that’s alright with you?”
“Of course, Claire. You are welcome here anytime. Would you like a lift to the station? I’m sure Kim will be fine here by herself for half an hour.”
Kim made a noise, as if protesting at their talking about her . Claire looked over, but didn’t know what to say. She drank down the last of the tea, and went to sit next to her friend.
“I’m sorry to rush off, Kim, but Conor thinks I’m still in Devon. I daren’t stretch his tolerance any further. I’ve left your car keys on the hall table.”
Kim kept her face turned to the window.
“Please, Kim. Don’t be like this. We’re all worried about you, that’s all. Your mum will look after you much better than I could; give you time and space to heal. Only you can put the pieces back together again.”
Eventually Kim turned to face her, and there was evidence of tears on her cheeks. Claire braced herself for more anger, but Kim merely put her arms around her and held her close.
“Thank you,” she mumbled into her hair. “I’m sorry to be a burden.”
“You are not a burden,” Claire said, emphasising each word. “I don’t want to hear you talking like that. I just want you to take care of yourself. Promise me you won’t do anything silly.”
Kim remained silent, and Claire pushed her away so she could see her face. With her hands on her shoulders she looked into her friend’s red eyes. “Promise me!”
“No, properly: like you mean it.” Claire glared at her, feeling as if they were both fifteen again.
Kim crossed her heart with one finger. “Cross my heart and hope to die.” She pulled a face. “Sorry, wasn’t thinking. Cross my heart and promise not to die?” She raised her eyes to Claire’s face.
“That’s better,” Claire said primly. Then they both collapsed into giggles.