Most weeks we’re a whirl of activity. It often feels as if we’re either getting ready to go out or clearing up from being out. My hallway is usually home to haphazard piles of muddy shoes and half emptied rucksacks. The water bottles and coffee flasks are used so much they live in the kitchen window.
But this week, we’ve relaxed. Aside from swimming and a brief trip to pick up some vegetables, we’ve not left the house.
Which, I’ll admit, is not a great advert for that age old debate on whether home educated children are socialised enough.
Instead we’ve done maths, though I can’t say the kids were overly inspired. We’ve worked our way through some craft kits that have been gathering dust since 2010 or thereabouts. The boys look online to plan our trip to Wales. We paint rocks to join the craze of Derbyshire Rocks. We’ve cooked a new recipe every day in a bid to bring something new to the mundanity of the routine: prepare, cook, clean. Prepare, cook, clean.
I swear, when these boys leave home, I am boarding up this kitchen, like a beach café in winter, and declaring it CLOSED.
My eldest has catalogued our trip to the Isle of Wight in his Avengers notepad. Endless pages of words, capitals and lowercase all mixed together in crazily wonky lines. I smile with the kind of joy only a mother can muster as I realise he can spell ‘shipwreck’ but struggles with ‘out’. And as for ‘museum’…..’m-you-zee-um’. Nice try, kid. But I smile and encourage and try not to worry what our friends think as he so proudly shows off his work at a friend’s birthday party.
His smile when he realises people can read what he’s written – that, right there, makes his struggle with writing so worthwhile. It’s finally sinking in and my heart is soaring with pride.
The days have been slow, unravelling gently like a ball of twine. The rain never really goes away and every time we look outside it’s still dark and grey. But it’s needed, this slower pace, from time to time.
I’ve finally swept the sand up from the floors that we brought home in our shoes and clothes. There’s still a dead crab on my kitchen counter and bags of shells I have no home for. I want to hold on to them, as if they might magically transport me back to the beach. I trace the shells of oysters with my fingertips, inhaling an imaginary scent of the ocean that’s faded from memory already.
I live about as far away from the sea as it’s possible to get in this country. And I wonder how I managed that.