This afternoon I was reminded that it doesn’t take a lot to make your children happy. Lola, now 6, and Lincoln, 5, are inseparable. When they’re not at school they are together, always together. So much so, that when one of them has a play date, I arrange one for the other as well. I’m always trying to keep things ‘fair’, the less fighting I have to deal with the more likely I am to be a nice person. Even with a 14 month age gap the kids think they are equals, they see no distinction in rank or ability; I consider this an incredibly fortunate thing, most of the time.
When it comes to what they do, they always have to be doing the same thing. It would be grossly unfair for one of them to be at a friend while the other is stuck at home. But being the unfair, negligent mother that I am, this is what I did today. I did not arrange a play date for Lola while Lincoln was at his friend. What was she going to do all afternoon? The extreme iniquity of the situation was unbearable.
Thinking that an afternoon alone with my daughter is a treat I am rarely allowed, I tell her that I will play with her. Unconvinced, she stalks into the house to find something else to moan about. At this point I make a conscious decision to spend the full 2 hours that my son is at his friend, with Lola.
So, we make lunch, and eat in Dad’s office, stifling giggles while he’s on a conference call. We feed him lunch and discuss Lola’s art from the last week. We mix up some icing and scrounge around for Marie biscuits to ice, decorate them with sprinkles and make numerous cups of tea. After distributing cookies to Dad, our cleaning lady and our gardener, we take the rest outside to have a picnic in the garden. Aside from the photo’s I took of her with her cookies, I did not look at my phone or reply to an email.
When 4 o’clock rolled around and I announced it was time to fetch Lincoln, she was horrified.
“This was the best fun ever! Better than all my other play dates. Can’t we have just 5 more minutes?”
And my heart melted.
Such a small thing, 2 hours alone with my daughter, and this is from a mom who is home in the afternoons. You think you are available, in-between running errands, answering calls and organising their lives. Then you stop, and actually give them your full attention, no “I just quickly” or “in a minute”. You stop your world for them, just for 2 hours, and it’s better than any gift you could buy in a store. Something so pure and simple, and you can see the sun shining out of their soul.