In which our entire family goes on an outing, and we have two Instagrammable moments. (This is a good result.)
What with TV ads and Instagram filters, I'm constantly a bit confused about family life. Specifically: are all other families as sparkly and sunshiny, making awesome memories and going on cute bushwalks, like they seem to be in everyone's pictures? Are all parents as fun, whimsical and generally all-around carefree as they look on TV? And the kids. I only have three words: where's the whingeing?
I know. Ads are made up of half- second-long smiling scenes. Producers can cram twenty of those suckers in together, making it look like EVERY SINGLE MOMENT of EVERY SINGLE DAY for a TV family is a never ending joy-fest.
And, Instagram. Again, I know. Why would anyone take, let alone post, the picture of the aftermath of one kid hitting another? Lost teeth, fairy wings and cool accomplishments are so much funner.
There aren't many Instagram/TV ad-worthy moments in our family. At least, not where everyone could be in the same shot and no one has their tongue out at anyone else. But I'm here to tell you: YESTERDAY WE HAD TWO!
Thass'right folks. Our family went out on, like, a proper outing, and we had two whole moments where I thought, 'Wow, this is really nice. Like it's supposed to be.'
Let me tell you how it went down.
So, the kid with the high anxiety really, really, really wanted to go ice skating. And when he really, really, really wants to do something, it goes a little bit like this.
Him, arriving in a doorway: "I guess we'll never get to go ice skating."
Me, turning my head in slow motion: "Wha- ?"
Him: "Because there's never any fun around here. For seven years I've lived in this house of misery, where real fun is banned."
Me: "You want to go ice skating?"
Him: "Yes. But you won't take me. Because you never do. Because my life is a disgrace, and a fun free zone."
Me, calling out the door to the husband: "Do you reckon we could go ice skating?"
Husband: "Yeah, I guess."
Anxious child: "This is a house of misery."
Me, to anxious child: "How about Sunday afternoon?"
We went ice skating. The actual outing went a bit like this.
1. Take a good fifteen minutes to coax anxious child into car.
2. Supervise learner driver for the two hour car trip. Including parking.
3. Loo stop.
4. Arrive at ice rink with ONLY SIX MINUTES, MUM. WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!!!
5. Fit skates. STILL RUNNING OUT OF TIME, MUM!
6. Try again to fit skates. LOOK, THEY'RE STARTING TO SKATE.
7. Yell at kid who's yelling at you. Swap skates over.
8. Give up on fitting your own skates. Tell crying child (a different one) to stop crying, it will all be okay, and maybe you just have to deal with slightly uncomfortable skates, because look at them, they're old and pretty battered, and not that good really, don't you think?
9. Finally give three skate-fitted children permission to get onto the ice without you, while you continue to fit miserable child, and then do your own skates.
10. Carry all bags, clumping down stairs in ill fitting ice skates. Dump bags. Stand water bottle upright* so the leaky lid doesn't actually leak, getting water all over the stuff in the bags.
11. Get on the ice. Breathe.
I actually love ice skating. It's the best type of exercise you can do. There's dancing involved, as well as speed, plus you stay cool and don't sweat. And now that the children are all old enough to actually stand upright and use their own arms to haul themselves along the edge of the rink, I don't have to inch myself along, holding both their hands, at a ridiculously slow pace and disastrous angle.
Our whole family skated. Yes, all. And then, the moment happened. It was about twenty minutes in, when the five year old realised that she could skate and hold Daddy's hand. I skated up to her and the husband and grabbed onto his hand. The teenager and one of the boys skated up behind me and grabbed mine, and then there were five of us all skating and holding hands and smiling, looking like we could be in a TV ad. (I did briefly think, 'darn it, there are only five of us here - where's the sixth?' but I quickly dismissed it. Five out of six is a pretty good result, after all.)
Two seconds, and it was over. Specifically, it was over because I was over. Over, on the ice, on my bottom. Crash. Also, ouch.
We did some more skating. We also learned things.
The five year old learned that she can't talk and skate because when she does, she will skate right in front of Mummy, who will then fall over her, hoping to high heaven that her blades don't run over little fingers, because blood on the ice would for sure freak the anxious child out totally, and would probably be the end of ice skating forever and ever, amen.
The anxious child learned, after a ten minute sideline fuss, that ill-fitting, TERRIBLY UNCOMFORTABLE skate boots can be swapped for much bigger, ill-fitting, slightly more comfortable skate boots that are currently on the feet of his mother, especially if enough noise and fuss is made. Mother can then go back to the counter for the fifth time to apologetically ask to swap skates once again, refit said skates, and head back out to the ice.
Our second Instagrammable family moment came towards the end, when we all happened to be in the same part of the rink. No one had fallen over. No one was complaining about anything sore. We smiled at each other and gave thumbs up. We were all happy at once. And I had a tiny heart-melt**. ***
*Yes, later the water bottle leaked after not being stood upright, not by me. The water went all over my shoes.
**The trip home was the usual kerfuffle. None of this TV-ad peaceful-sleeping-children-in-the-back-while-parents-look-back-wistfully-and-then-give-each-other-secret-smiles business.
Kid: "I'm SO bored." (Me: "Being bored is good for your brain.")
Kid: "Are we in Kangaroo Valley yet?" (Me: "Does it look like we're in Kangaroo Valley?")
Kid: "When will we get there?" (Me: "Another 15 hours. At least.")
Kid: "We aren't going to get home in time for the Thunderbirds." (Me: "You can watch it tomorrow. You've just had an amazing ice skating outing. Don't complain.")
***Next day: "Ice skating was so great. I suppose we won't get to go once a month."