On Thursday afternoon, our usual 10 minute walk home from school took us two hours. But there were no tantrums. There was no dragging of feet. We arrived home excercised, relaxed and happy. Let me share a little secret with you. A routine is good, but a spontaneous breaking of your routine every now and again lifts you out of the daily grind and turns your thoughts to other things. It gives you a break.It is like finding time you thought you didn't have.
Our normal routine on a Thursday would be to collect Number One from school and then take Number Two to athlethics but leave 15 minutes early because Number One is bored and Number Three needs to be fed. This routine is usually heaps of fun for Number Two. Since he is the middle child and demands far less attention than his brothers, I like to stick with athlethics class for him even though the other two aren't too pleased about it.
Thursday was such a lovely sunny day that I couldn't bear the thought of spending it in the school PE hall. So, on the walk to school I suggested we go for ice-cream after the school pick-up. To be honest, that was the end of my plan. School, ice-cream parlour, home.
As luck would have it, Number One had had a particularly good day at school behaviour-wise and had no homework left to do. So we strolled over to the ice-cream parlour, ordered, ate and chatted happily. Number One checked the menu and counted out the money for the waitress from my purse (they are learning about money at school at the moment). He even asked for the bill and paid all by himself.
As we got up to leave, Number Two wanted to show me something in the street behind the ice-cream parlour. We never have a reason to go round there, but he was there with a friend's family recently and wanted to show me the fountain he saw. So we went. We were about 150m from the ice-cream parlour but in the opposite direction to home. And here it suddenly struck me - we could turn around and walk home. We'd be there in less than ten minutes. The boys would play their usual games of Lego or Playmobil and I would mind the baby, make dinner, tidy up or put on a wash. Or we could keep walking in the wrong direction and take a different way home.
So we did.
It was wonderful. We walked through parts of the village that the boys had never seen and that I had rarely been in. We looked around us and chatted about the houses we passed. We talked about how old there were and what they were built with. We watched the sunlight flicker through the leaves on a big copper beech. We don't do things like that on the school route. It has become so routine and we are always in a hurry to get to school, to get to sport, to get home, to be somewhere else but not in the moment.
Two beautiful houses fallen to ruin.
Once we got home, I sent the boys to change for bed. I got Number Three changed for bed too and set the table for dinner. We ate boiled eggs and sandwiches for tea instead of having a cooked meal. Afterwards the boys went to bed without any trouble, happy and sleepy.
A pretty pink villa. It reminds me of a dolls' house.
At home that evening a line from one of my favourite poems popped into my mind
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost
I've loved this poem since I first came across it over twenty years ago. It is such a simple poem, so matter of fact, but it perfectly describes my relaxed and spontaneous afternoon with my boys.
Sunlight filtering through a big copper beech tree.