More often than not these days we get a taxi in to town. I love the walk, but often find the thought of needing to keep all four of them safe walking along the main road rather terrifying. It's suddenly possible again though, as Talia has reached an age and stage where she will most often freeze when I ask her to, and the others very nearly always do. Marginally less terrifying, then.
Mine are the eclectically rainbow babies in hand knits and mittens on strings. :) They mostly choose their own outfits these days, and still my bright and cheerful weirdness predominates!
I read an article a while back that kind of stuck in my head and left me feeling quite guilty for hurrying them along. Well, now I'm happy to confidently assert: with four children pretty close in age, you are ALWAYS either trying to get someone to hurry up or trying to get someone to slow down - or both. In fact, once you get past two children walking confidently, unless you have highly compliant little ones (or maybe even then) you will be herding cats trying to get them to stay together. Well, that's how we walk in to town. It's like a concertina, as we spread out and draw back together again.
We dawdle at walls and other interesting things to climb. We spend time poking at moss and examining all the different kinds.
We debate stopping at the Arboretum on the way (but decide that we're all hungry, so we'd better keep going). We stop to look at some chipped paint on a wall for a good long while, because the four year old wants to. We run sticks along the railings. We also have to stop (still with our sticks) and poke something that looks like a giant orange poo for about twenty minutes (I think it was some kind of sand/cement stuff from the building works). We watch over the railway bridge for trains, and Rowan holds up a branch and pretends to be a tree.
And the entire time, I am head-counting and trying to keep everyone together, saying first one name then another, and playing the stop/go game. Hurry up, slow down, hurry up, slow down. It's not always pretty, or perfect. Sometimes I yell, have to grab a little one's hand before they step into the road, get stressed or whiny under the pressure of keeping everyone safe, or sing in the loudest and most undignified way to keep flagging spirits up as they get tired. It's not always pretty or perfect, but it's pretty much a good analogy for much of my parenting at the moment. We just about hang together, somehow. And that's pretty wonderful. :)