Friday, January 11, 2008

So this is what a normal family is like...

Here is a photo I took in Phuket at the resort. It illustrates how this week has been with only two children here. Ahhhhhhhhh, so calm, peaceful and serene. (No sarcasm here. I actually mean it.) When I took this back in September it was about 10am. The air was sticky and humid. The kids were all back at the room watching pirated dvds we'd bought the night before and I was wandering around the grounds with my brand new camera having some quiet time. All I could hear was the sound of water and birds. The sea was a distant rumble in the distance. The tropical foliage was bright with flowers. Very few people were about. I had a lovely time doing nothing much, just taking a few photos.
Tony (the ex husband) has had the two older boys all this week. He has a fruit shop and he needed some help while a couple of his workers were on holiday. The boys were rapt because they're of an age where the $5 a week pocket money I give them isn't quite keeping them in the champagne lifestyle they aspire to. I was rapt because I want them to study hard, go to uni and get a degree, and nothing will light that fire more than a week of standing on a concrete floor, lifting heavy boxes and dealing with the general public. So since Sunday night I've had just Brennan (13) and Connor (11) here.
This may offend some people with only one or two children.... but you guys have a bloody beautiful existence. What are you all complaining about?? I've never had such a glorious absence of arguments, angst and racing around in my life. We've had a lovely time. Brennan and Connor get along beautifully. They wouldn't say so, but really I guess you'd call them best friends. We've gone a whole week with not a single raised voice or appeal for Mum to adjudicate. (That's because Jack isn't here. He feels that he's the man of the house, even though it's patently obvious that I am. I have the hairdo to prove it. The red toenails, mascara and skirts may detract slightly from this, though.)
This week we go with the flow. If we feel like pancakes for lunch, then we have them. If we want to stay up till 11 playing Tetris (the only game I like), then we do. (I beat the kids. Once. I'm a legend.) We've had takeaway three times this week because there's only three of us so it's cheap! Cheap I tell you! If one of them gets a call to meet mates at the pool or to go to a friend's place, they're old enough to ride their bikes. They're old enough to have their own interests, so the whole week has been a gentle ebb and flow of us sometimes spending time together doing whatever, then drifting off to do our own things before coming back together again. I tell you, you people with only two kids are living the dream. You've died and gone to heaven without actually having to go through all the dying part. You've won Tattslotto, but in a more spiritually uplifting way than having mere filthy lucre. (Though that'd be good too.)
I kid you not, this week has been just as relaxing as having a whole week child-free. It's been that level of pure calm, but with more company. Now before you fill my comments section with abusive missives, let me state that I realise that I'm lucky.
Brennan and Connor are both primary kids. Bren starts secondary in a couple of weeks, and we all know that that's where they start to drift off. This is almost certainly the last summer I'll have where he is still in love with me. (I don't mean in a disturbing, call-Child-Protection way, so calm down.) You know how little kids are born with that need to bond and be with their parents? Seeing as how I've been the only one to bring them up on a consistent day by day way (I've been divorced for 11 years), it means that I've been the main focus of all of this love.
(I in no way mean to imply that they don't love their Dad. They adore him, and he adores them. In 11 years he has never missed an access weekend with them, which is statistically unprecedented. But the way our lives have turned out it means that I'm the rock that they base their lives on. )
Brennan and Connor still have that unquestioning love and affection for me. It's a beautiful thing that I know will soon change and evolve into a different way of interacting as they move into adolescence. Jack (15) was always a little distant. He's as stubborn as I am. And as bossy. It's outrageous. But at least he's communicative. You can't get that kid to shut up. Jordan, on the other hand, was like the younger two kids are now. He's just finished year 7, and the drifting away to establish his own identity has begun.
It's bittersweet. Taking the long view; there's no way I want any of them to be a 'Mummy's Boy'. There's nothing more stomach-turning in a grown man. However, the complicated dance that we have now started will eventuate (I hope) into a mother/son relationship with each of them that is deep, funny and respectful (on both sides.)
Particularly as they will probably all be living here till they're 45, judging by current trends.
So it's been a lovely gift, having the two little ones here. There's no adolescent angst, no backing off and advancing back... just three people who adore each other, hanging out and having a good time. Kids who hug me and tell me they love me for no particular reason, just because they feel like saying it. I've been known to do the same thing too. They get along and they share. They have complimentary senses of humour, so in that regard I'm as lucky as all get out. They entertain each other.
One thing was weird though. Only putting out three plates for dinner each night. It seemed too meagre. FIVE plates is normal.
Tonight I drop the little ones off to Tony's for the weekend, and then they're all back on Sunday night. I'm looking forward to seeing Jack and Jordan today, all grown up and working in the shop. I'm really proud of the way they're developing as people (so far. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and we're a long way from finished yet.) But this week has been like an oasis. I don't think I'll have a week like this again. And it's been lovely.


Marita said...

I always feel like I'm on some kind of holiday when I only have one of my girls around. Half the workload is a holiday.

Glad you are getting a break.

Laura Jane said...

Great post. I know exactly what you mean, about being still young enough to love their Mum - it means you are still one of their rock solid favourite people who they would choose to hang out with.

Its all good. I love the sound of how you've brought your boys up, and its really healthy that you appreciate and give YOURSELF credit for the fine job you've done (along with their dad).

I'm completely sure that there are days as a single parent that just SUCK big-time. I take my hat off to you.

And as the mother of only two (now 22 and nearly 19), I also agree with you about having it relatively sweet. Thats the reason I only had two kids - I figured one in each hand as i crossed the road was all I could handle - and thank God my contraceptive worked effectively!

Keep up the good work and have a great weekend to yourself.

Anonymous said...

As a mum-of-four I know exactly what you mean. When even one is missing the whole dynamic changes and they bicker less and get along a whole lot better, and seem a whole lot easier to me. When I had only two kids this seemed incomprehensible, but it's true.


susan said...

I bet if you only had those two for a little longer it would be back to the normal bickering...only maybe a little quieter. :P

My neighbor has eleven and I swear she doesn't even seem to hear the scabbles anymore. I'm not sure if she is amazing or a fool!

I'm glad you get to enjoy your time with the little ones.

MP said...

all boys..they are a different type of creature aren't they? Sounds crazy at your house!! Our house is turned upside down when my stepson visits!!