5 October 2013
Rains, Trains, and Feeling Brave
A good friend arranges to meet up - a really great friend turns up to help you get to arranged meeting place when she hears you're having a hard morning! :)
This whole refusing-to-hibernate thing is working out giving us the strangest adventures this week. On this occasion the adventure was a brilliant fun afternoon on the park in a torrential downpour.
Emma even brought her crochet for me to photograph. Beautiful Emma and her beautiful arts and crafts.
It really did rain a LOT. The children absolutely refused offers to go home, and mine wouldn't even put coats on. By the time we did go home we were all rather cold and totally drenched. Talia fell in a puddle on the way back, and took off half of her clothes, so we kind of ran the last two streets with baby whimpering and the others starting to complain that they were wet. (I refrained from sarcasm. I just thought sarcastic things in my head about children who beg for five more minutes in a freaking thunderstorm only to complain about having been rained on.)
Isn't it a good job that home comes with practically unlimited supplies of hot tea? :)
On Friday I took all four children up into the High Peak by train, to visit a home-ed group who meet once a month. I'd been invited by a fellow unschooler, and assured that I would be made very welcome - first I just had to overcome my fear of taking these four wild ones on public transport long distances...
The travelling is OK, for me, actually. I joke about my kidlets being wild, but they are lovely friendly helpful travelling companions, and they really give me no cause to freak out and/or lay down rules. They are usually very considerate of other passengers, and tend if anything to fight much less in public than when cooped up at home. And yet transporting them gives me the biggest most horrible anxiety attacks, especially when coupled with any kind of time pressure. Trying to get them somewhere on time is my most common panic attack trigger. So it was a really big deal. Still, I was just Going to Do It and Not Freak Out.
Until I paid for our tickets, took the children through the barrier, and was told casually in passing by a guard, "You'll be changing at Sheffield."
Wait a second, I'll be WHAT NOW?
I didn't say that. I must have been radiating about-to-have-a-meltdown though, because he kindly looked up the details and made sure I knew the platform for and name of the connecting train we'd be getting. I stood in that entrance way clutching our tickets feeling stricken. In sight of our actual train.
Honestly, I was terrified. If you've never suffered severe anxiety I'm not sure I can explain it. But I wanted to run. I wanted to gather my little chickies, and run home, and hide there quietly. I did NOT want to get on that train. I'd rather lose the money I'd spent on tickets than lose a child at a station somewhere (or lose my mind in the process of getting there). What if we missed our connection and had to traipse all the way home without making the meet? What if we got to the meet and missed our train home and were stranded for over an hour in the rain in the middle of nowhere and didn't get home until 9pm? All the worst case scenarios flashed through my head, a parade of failures and ways in which I was going to let these kids down and generally be the worst parent in the world.
I said, "OK kids, it's an adventure!" And we got on the train.
(Please excuse Roo with a mouth full of picnic!)
After a while, I start to breathe normally again. I keep saying, "We're fine. We're doing this, and we're fine. They're safe, I'm a great mama, and I'm looking out for them. We're having an adventure. Look how happy they are. We're fine."
They watch out of windows a lot.
Rowan: Look mumma! A horse all by himself, he is so sad!
Me: How do you know he's sad? He might be a really happy horse...
Rowan: Nope. He has a frowny face.
Other passengers react to these happy, curious, lively young people. Some chuckle at how Talia says, "MINE!" and holds out her hands for whatever her sisters have. Some wave back at Rowan as she greets them. Some chat with Jenna a while when she politely asks them if they know which station is next or what the name of their dog is or whether she may offer their baby a biscuit. None of my possible predicted Terrible Things comes to pass (not even the minor everyday ones like Talia trying to take all her clothes off, or Rowan making repetitive annoying four-year-old noises that might bother the other passengers). We arrived at the group totally unscathed.
And it was so worth it. Such a lovely friendly welcoming group, where I didn't even feel like the newbie, let alone the freak I occasionally feel at other social gatherings. ;) It was wonderful to see teenagers and parents hanging out together, affectionate, actually friends. It was wonderful to see the children running together in a pack, and stomping barefoot in puddles, and dancing, and watching the rain. It was wonderful to see families getting involved with their own children, and each other's - asking questions of the kids about known interests, and sharing news, treating each other kindly. I've never got that vibe from a large real life group before.
The return journey, although I didn't so much as know our connecting train's destination, was not so stress-inducing. I knew we'd done it before, and I was confident that I could keep it together. Changing trains again was, of course, a hurrying-across-the-station, carrying the barefooted baby, where-the-heck-are-the-toilets, rush. And then we were on the right train, and on the homeward straight, with a bag of chocolates in my bag for the children who were all hungry again.
Morgan, on the way home: "That train has FOUR cabbages, but this one only has two. [After some delighted laughter from Jenna and I...] Oh, carr-a-ges-es is too hard to say, I'll just say cabbages." :)
Talia fell asleep upright in her chair. The gentleman sitting next to her laughed and helped her get comfortable while I finished reading a story to Rowan, then I scooped up my small sleepy and cuddled her close all the way home. It would have been a perfectly blissful moment, were in not for the fact that Talia had fallen asleep with four chocolates in her mouth at once, and therefore drooled chocolate into my cleavage and all over the inside of the ring sling.
Picture the scene as we waited for our lift home. Me with chocolate baby drool all over me, sitting outside the station with three of my four children barefoot in the sunshine; I felt like a damn lioness.