So there we are, a three (and a half, that bit is important apparently) year old and myself, freezing our fingers off waiting for the eldest boy child to finish school. I was happily trying to keep a hold of the pushchair in the gale force winds when I hear, "mummy, you can be the mummy crocodile ok?"
Errrr, alright then. What the flip does a mummy crocodile do? Whilst I stood racking my brains for my limited crocodile knowledge my daughter had transported us to an imaginary land where the following did not seem out of place.
Baby crocodile- "say, baby crocodile, are you hungry?"
Mummy croc- "are you hungry baby crocodile?"
Baby croc- "yes I am mummy crocodile"
Mummy croc- "what do baby crocodiles like to eat?"
Baby croc- "water" (Baby croc proceeds to get down on her hands and knees and lick a puddle. Yes, there were other parents at the school gate)
Mummy croc- "That looks tasty. Let's play another game. We can pretend to be at home in the warm with a cup of tea."
Baby croc- "No. You choose the animal now."
Mummy croc- (feeling slightly mean) "Ok, you can be a baby platypus"
Baby croc/platypus- "what does a plattapuff do?"
I'm not ashamed to say that I just wanted her to attempt the word platypus. Right now she struggles saying gloves and it comes out as 'glubs'. It feels like the last vestige of her toddlerhood. One day she will wake up and be able to pronounce platypus, gloves and yellow and I'll be sat there wondering where the heck the girl who licked a puddle went.
The little girl who loves batman, is desperate to do ballet (despite being a rather tall and solid little girl who falls in a heap attempting a basic spin) and has an obsession with Biff, Chip and Kipper (who, incidentally are first in my line of fire should I ever be handed a weapon). She is beautiful and funny but one day will give me a look of disdain when I ask her to hold my hand to cross the road or will only want to be around me if I am giving her a lift somewhere.
It hit home today that this time next year I will be picking her up from school. In 4 years time the baby will be there too and that will be that. They will be on their way to the years of homework, navigating their first 'relationships', exams and finally adulthood. I will admit that it has never occurred to me before that one day, in the not too distant future, they won't want to go everywhere with me and that even the lure of being allowed to sit in the front of the car or listen to what they want on the radio won't be enough.
It worries me that when they look back on this time, that should be carefree and fun, they might not remember the time we pretended to be animals out the front of the school, the time we went gruffalo hunting in the woods or when they woke up one morning to find that their dad had spent all night constructing them armour out of cardboard boxes (including Thor's hammer) and we battled for most of the morning. Instead my fear is that they might remember the stressing in the morning to get everyone out of the house, the times I said only one bedtime story because I just needed them to leave me alone for 5 flaming minutes or the times that they were in trouble.
It made me realise that I need to relax more. I can do it at work with 25 children so why is it so difficult with only 3? Could it be that these three are my sole responsibility. What I do now creates the adults that they will become. I understand that they need structure and discipline to a degree but somewhere along the way I haven't made enough time for fun.
I'm going to attempt one fun thing a day. Don't get me wrong I'm not sitting them in a dark room the rest of the time, but I am going to make time to spend 1:1 time with them doing something that they enjoy. Whether that is playing Doc McStuffin's, making and eating our weight in cornflake cakes or simply splashing in the biggest puddles on the way home, I will do something that makes us all smile every day.
And when the day comes that one of them learns to make a cup of tea and fancies rewarding me for the times I've let mine go cold to do something they might find fun then that will be my job well done!