My eldest has been off school for the last few days. His little brother, however, has been at his most beanful. To balance his need of activity, my need to get outdoors and his brother’s need to stay still and do as little as possible we have popped to the park with the most close-at-hand parking each morning. No agenda beyond just being there and a clear understanding that as soon as my eldest began to wilt we would abandon the outing. Depression can take the nicest tasks and turn them into imperatives (we will go to the park and powerwalk around the pond three times in two minutes), setting unrealistic deadlines for their achievement (we will go the park and have a fabulous time and still be home in time for a mid-morning coffee and a trip to the supermarket) and leaving me with an anxious sense of urgency from the moment we start to put on our shoes. But not these outings.
So for three lovely mornings I have sat on a bench and just chatted with my eldest while his brother ran from slide to trampoline and round in happy circles. Together we have laughed at his brother’s antics and talked through whatever was on his mind without me trying to get anything else done and without having to break off constantly to deal with the toddler. We were so still that on one day a squirrel climbed into my lap, paws on my chest and looked hopefully into my face. Sorry little guy – no nuts here! (I know – the irony!)
Today my boy was too ill still for a whole day of school, but too well to sit in front of a dvd or read a book all day, so we went for a longer outing. We picked more damsons (this time for spiced damsons and a crumble) with the boy going from surly onlooker to damson-addict – I see one! And another! Wait, there’s more just up here – can you lift me? This is fun mum! Then on to a grassy verge with half a dozen assorted crab-apple trees. After racing around trying to outdo each other picking up windfalls he suggested getting on my back to reach the higher branches and so we lurched and giggled from branch to branch until our bag was full.
Tomorrow I will boil and spice and stir and pot up our spoils and each time I open a jar, I will remember a day of giggling in the autumn sunshine with my boy on my back.