I had 3 main things on my mind:
- I was making sure I maintained my centre of gravity while I had a 5-year-old climbing my left arm, coiling his legs around me, and my 3-year-old was dangling from my right arm.
- I was going over a menu asking myself which kid wanted a wrap, which a burger and trying to remember what sauce The Lass likes with her chips (I went with Sweet and Sour).
- I was hoping that The Mamanator would be back with my credit card before I got to the front of the queue – she was waiting at another take-out place while I queued up with the kids.
We were at “The Calder” – the service station near Calder Park on the Calder Freeway – the scene of much Caldernation. It was a pit stop as we drove into Melbourne for New Years Even 2016. The year was coming to a close, and I was being climbed like a monkey bar. Again.
I had a range of amused/sympathetic looks from bystanders as I continued to provide a literal platform for my children. Somehow neither of them ended up on my shoulders, surprising considering past history. But this was just all part of waiting in line with children. If they’re climbing me at least I know where they are.
There was actually a fourth thing on my mind too. It was New Years Eve, and The Mamanator and I were going to a “grown-up” party for the first time in 5 years. With 2016 behind us we’d crossed a magic threshold. The kids were old enough to be left with my mother for a whole night. We were going to drink and stay up to midnight while they were in her reliable care, and then we were going to have a late cafe breakfast with old friends. This was something we hadn’t done in a long time, and it felt good.
But there’s a lot of other thresholds we’ve crossed in 2016, and some of them have left us feeling that mixture of pride and grief that most parents get watching their kids grow and move on from things. I don’t know what it is about this year, but our lives and our children seem to have hit some kind of accelerator pedal, and we’re all having to adjust.
Our kids can manage a night with Yia Yia. We can no longer say, definitively, that they absolutely need us to fall asleep. Of course most nights I sing them to sleep, and am then a source of solace to my son who sneaks into our bed sometime between 11 and 2 each night. But one day, I don’t know when, will be the last time he does that. I get a feeling it may be soon.
There’s been some “lasts” this year that we saw coming, like finishing Kindergarten. That’s a set date, you know the last day your child will go to kinder. But there’s a bunch of other lasts that seem to have come in quick succession recently, the kids just hit fast forward a bit again.
There’s one in particular….
After Christmas we bought a set of bunks for the kids. They’re in them now, The Lad on top and The Lass bellow. When we were explaining the bunks to the pair of kids The Lass was convinced there would be four levels, ad that we’d all sleep in the bunks together. She’d be on the bottom, then mum, then me and then her brother at the top. It is a funny (and disturbing) mental image.
But we picked them up last Thursday while the kids were in care, set them up and now they sleep in them. In the process we took out the cot bed which we bought for 20 bucks off Ebay for The Lad when he was small. That cot has seen a lot of action with us, and now it’s sitting under the carport outside. Our smallest child is in a single bed. We no longer have need for a cot, and in all likelihood never will. Our last day of using a cot was December 28th 2016.
That cot represents another last in our lives. The last time we have a baby in the house. Probably, anyway. We’ve drawn the line at 2, because pregnancy is a nightmare for The Mamanator. When The Lass outgrows something there are no more hand-me-downees to receive them in this house.
As I was writing this my son got up to go to the bathroom. He’s next to me now on the couch because he doesn’t like sleeping alone. He gets to sleep alright these days, but he gets up and some point and crawls in with us every night. A night, possibly a night soon, will come the last night he does that. He’ll grow out of it.
You never know when a day might be the last day of something. But without last days you can’t have first days, so I suppose it balances out.