There are two text messages I never mind receiving. The first one is a mid-week one.
In Lidl. Do we need anything?
Now, there is a big difference between needing and wanting something.
I usually fire off a quick response along the lines of: we need milk, nappies and toilet roll.
But I want chocolate, a magazine and you could get a 6 pack of beer if you want to.
The other text message beeps through at around this time of year.
Do you want to drop the boys over on Sunday so you can do a bit of Christmas shopping?
I usually fire off a quick response along the lines of: Hell yes!!!!! Is 9am too early and is it for all day?
Last year we took Smallest Boy with us but this year we would be alone. Alone with a capital A.
We booted the boys out of the car at their Wonderful Nana’s house and as soon as they were preoccupied, we scorched off in the direction of the shopping centre.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a smidgen of guilt/worry/stress/at leaving Smallest Boy when we drove past him, scooting along the driveway on his Y-bike.
He looked up mid scoot and I ordered Mister Husband to slow down so we could say our goodbyes.
terrified reluctant, fearing Smallest Boy
would throw a wobbler and want to accompany us.
“Ok.” Smallest Boy revved his engine, “get me treat.” And with a scattering of gravel, he was gone.
Mister Husband took his cue from our youngest boy and followed suit.
The car was weirdly quiet on the first leg of the journey. There were no shouts from the
front seat passengers directed towards those in the back to be quiet and stop fighting. No threats of treats being withheld if the thumping of their neighbour didn’t stop. No frustrated reassurances from us that we are nearing our destination and wee’s could soon be forthcoming.
Then we warmed up and started talking to each other. It was a bit stilted at first. We may have mentioned the weather. We definitely spoke about the kids. We outlined our plan of action. Pondered briefly, the possibility of the place being jam packed.
But we didn’t care. We would face down those crowds as only those without kids in tow, can and push our way through with the best of them.
When we parked and got out of the car, I treated Mister Husband to a lascivious look.
“Let’s do something we haven’t done in a long time.”
I’m still not sure if it was interest or alarm that sparked in his eyes.
“Let’s hold hands.”
I’m still not sure if it was relief or disappointment that sparked in his eyes but he laughed and, being the man he is, grabbed my hand and we went into the shopping centre.
The next few hours passed in a frenzied spending spree.
At least once the sharp, panicked cry of “mammy!” made me look around in earnest. Then I remembered we were alone. Alone with a capital A.
I did check my watch a few times and wondered how Smallest Boy was doing; was he tired? Did he have a little snooze somewhere?
I couldn't resist a quick text; "How are the boys? Did Brendan sleep?"
The reply was immediate. "Loud! Yes. For an hour."
And all too soon it was time for that last cup of tea and the journey home.
Funnily enough, the chat in the car was much livelier on the way back. It went something along the lines of; “we really must do that more often,” and “wasn’t it great to get a few hours alone,” and “do you remember the days when we used to spend that time in the pub on a Sunday afternoon and we didn’t think twice about it?”
We really must, it was great and indeed. Indeed.
Back at Wonderful Nana’s the boys were practically on the doorstep waiting for us. Coats on and everything.
I wonder why.