The eldest had a day off school this week. It is always a hard one to call, she had seemed peaky, but by 9.30 it was hard to see there was very much wrong.
But in any case, it presented a rare opportunity for some one to one time with her. And she could not believe her luck when I suggested we do painting together, at an easel, outside, so that we could copy what we saw in the garden. I envisaged the two of us, passing a happy morning, companionably dunking our brushes, chatting of this and that, assessing the light on the branches… but of course she is 5. What actually happened was that I abandoned my own craft to sit next to her, advising on how to dunk the brush in water without then streaking the whole canvas with too-runny paint. But that was nice too.
Regarding subject matter, I had envisaged replicating the cherry blossom, the willow tree opposite, a cloud bespeckled sky, that kind of thing. Caitlin chose to immortalise the trampoline. Ah well. Who is to say what is art, after all? Perhaps it is indeed this:
I suppose we will have to put it on the wall now. Heavens.
Time is slipping away from me, if 100 challenges are to be done by May. And the only answer is to start doubling up on them. So, I hatched a cunning plan to combine these two in one activity.
My husband and several other gentlemen of the village went away for the weekend. All the abandoned wives and children sought solace in numbers, and gathered together for a marathon 24 hour play date and sleepover. I volunteered to lead the first activity: a village litter pick-up, dressed as superheroes. It was inspired, as it enabled me to a)gain maximum value from the Bananaman investment, and b) create a slightly strange and dare I even say fun event from an activity that might otherwise have met with protest.
But it is marvellous how willingly the children accept such proposals. ‘We’re all going to dress up as superheroes and pick up all the litter in the village’. Of course we are. What else are Saturday afternoons for? 10 children ranging from 3-8 years embraced the prospect, and presented as instructed, variously dressed as Batman, Spiderman, a princess, a pirate, a ballerina, Mrs Incredible… I gave them each a carrier bag for their spoils. And a pep talk about how the village needs us. No litter must remain after our efforts. And off they all ran, in high spirits.
I had been anxious we’d fail to find any litter (for such is the nature of the very community-spirited village we hail from) – but once we started to look we found a surprising amount. They checked around bins, dug about in ditches, scraped up mushy paper. On occasion the refuse was so precariously positioned that only Bananaman could safely go in for it. Between us we filled about 8 carrier bags, enough for everyone to feel proud! And finished up in the park for some well deserved celebratory roundabouting. Happily we only bumped into one other family, and she was very understanding about it!
The hunt was followed by a feast of chicken nuggets, ice cream and cookies, a couple of hours of trampolining, endless table football contests, DVDs and stories.
But at bedtime a couple of the kids were asked what had been the best thing about the day. ‘Litter picking with Bananaman’ came the gratifying reply. Oh yes.