A lot of people say that the pureness of a child's mind, and the innocence of their behaviors and intentions are a true measure of a person. Too young to form false impressions of a person, or be manipulated by the clever games we adults play. It is also said that while they are a good natural judge of character, they are also a trigger for uncontrollable happiness, and fun. And based on this weekend I have to agree fully.
If I look back at my own childhood, fun times at shops, grabbing things and messing around was never on the cards. Two reasons really, firstly we didn't have huge superstores full of fun at every turn then. Woolworths was as good as it got. Not knocking that experience of course. And secondly the huge lack of money in the house meant we didn't really get to go to the shops that much anyway, let alone come home with a new toy. Also, as great as my childhood was, it was sparse. There were not loads of trips to the park, with lots of friends, and running about playing football with mum and dad. Dad wasn't there, and mum had a bad back, so lots of activity was never on the cards.
Back to the main point of this blog anyway. On Saturday afternoon, I went with a friend and her two kids to the shops. The plan was, after challenging me to do the Couch to 5k Challenge, I now needed suitable attire to start running in. After having already added to my wardrobe recently for cycling too, again thanks to her, genuinely. So the plan was to go to Decathlon, grab some running bits, maybe look at bikes for the future for the kids, then go home.
My friend came to pick me up, complete with her two children who I have never met before. Unsurprisingly I fell victim almost immediately to her daughter who gets her own way around people, but then don't all little girls? I know Sian did too, and maybe there lay my weakness. As for the son, shy and intelligent, reminding me much of myself at that age, engaging is not always easy. Possibly the similarities between us was enough, but either way we clicked quite quickly. By the time we arrived at the shop we were all getting on just fine.
Unfortunately on entering the store and heading for the bikes, the son found a bike he loved immediately. Luckily it was the same bike which I believe had caught both our eyes too, so well chosen there mate. Shortly after the daughter also found a bike she liked, and took off on it like a nutter, After a little bit of time doing laps of the bike area, with the daughter being on stabilisers and going solo (under a watchful eye) and the son needing a little help, decisions were being made, and mummy started to realise she would more than likely be buying bikes today. Choosing a slightly bigger bike for the daughter, stabilisers were fitted to it, the bikes put in for prep, and I grabbed the bits I needed, before we all checked out. Getting the bikes into the car was a fun challenge to say the least, and the journey home apparently consisted of me being manipulated by the daughter, and giving mummy a good laugh. (cow!)
That was really the end of the planned trip, but over the next couple of hours, the kids took it upon themselves to keep inviting me to the next stage of the day, from coffee and shopping, right up to going home with them for dinner.
So I guess this is where it might all start to read a little bit weird, but in the name of trying to explain myself I shall as always, be honest.
Going home for dinner, mummy was left preparing the meal, while I went into the lounge with the kids, and sat with them playing on their iPads. The daughter inviting me to watch cartoons with her, and the son wanting me to watch him play his game. Looking for attention I guess, they got closer and closer until we were all curled up in the corner of the sofa, cuddled up. I even managed to find a spare hand to pet the dog who had also come to join in.
With everything I have missed out on in life with my own daughter, who incidentally turns 21 next month, it was nice to share the closeness of the bond of the kids. There is something about the time spent with a child, the connection, the conversation, and the interactions, that just melts me. Totally caught up in the moment, I could have stayed there for a lot longer.
In no time dinner was ready, so we all sat to eat, shortly after when it was time for me to leave.
I went home that evening like a child who has just found out they are going to Disney the next day, unable to sleep, thinking over and over about the fun I had had that day, and excited at the prospect of going out the next day to the park on the bikes. Needless to say I only managed four hours sleep that night.
The next day, en route to Sainsbury's to do my weekly shop, I heard from my friend to say she was going to try and fit the bike rack to the car. I offered a hand, and five minutes later arrived at the house. We got the rack sorted eventually (thank heavens for my 5 series estate I don't need one!). To my surprise, time was of the essence and the plan was to leave for the park immediately. My shopping or the park with mummy and the kids?.....DUR ! Off we went to the park.
With stabilisers on, the daughter was off like a shot, but new to this bike the son was going to struggle a bit. But he had great help on hand with a very determined and strong minded mum. Like any child learning to ride a bike on 2 wheels for the first time, it is a daunting time and really drains their willpower and self belief for a time, before it finally clicks. So a few attempts, some tumbles and spills, and a little frustration, then it all fell into place. Before I knew it, I was filming his first solo set off on his bike, and off he went. Confidence skyrocketed, and huge smiles appeared on all our faces.
The feeling of sharing a moment like that with someone is impossible for me to put into words. Having missed all that with Sian, it was emotional to say the least. It is a huge step in a child's life, and I was privileged to have shared that moment with them all. Thank you all for allowing me to be a part of a special day.
The whole time over both days was filled with great conversation, a whole heap of genuine laughter, and dare I say this without sounding really weird, but I felt part of a family. A sensation I am not familiar with at all if I am honest. Not trying to replace anyone, not wanting to over step my place in all this, I am just a friend of the family after all. But to spend time with a great friend and her two amazing children just gave me a sense of belonging and purpose, and one which lifted my spirits so much I can't explain it. It is an addictive feeling, and I know I will struggle if I am not careful, not to get too involved and attached.
You know when you do something for the first time and it is exciting, but you soon grow tired of it. And then you do something you fall in love with instantly and know you want to keep doing it, for me its like scuba diving. Well this was like the latter for me. There were fun time, as well as little tantrums and tears, but it all belongs as part of a package, and it is one I am comfortable around.
Invite only, I totally get it. From time to time, and not for good, it makes perfect sense. Not wanting to intrude, force myself into anything, or change the dynamics of an amazing friendship. None the less I am ready at any time for the next adventure.
Like I say, I really hope this doesn't come across as overbearing or intrusive. Stalkerish I can handle as its my natural place in this environment, so I am told. But unwanted behaviour is NOT something I want to be a part of.
Here's to finding other things too that make me feel as good at this.