Friday 13 October 2017

Autumn Parenting: The Dream vs The Reality

Ah, autumn. If you ask me towards the end of summer, I will tell you autumn is my favourite time of year. My eyes will glaze over and I will let out a sigh of nostalgia as I tell you about how much I love crunching through a carpet of fallen leaves. Ask me in autumn and I probably won’t hear you over the sound of my own misery because why is the world so cold and wet again?

I spent most of September feeling excited about autumn drawing in. Then the first leaves started to fall from the trees, the house became an igloo and I realised I had no winter boots. I was ranting to Laurie about the horror of autumn on the first of October when my five-year-old sweetly piped up, “But, Mummy, what about all the crunchy leaves?” Yeah, I get it, kid, I was an insufferable dick in September.

So, here it is, my dream of what autumn parenting would be like, followed by the cold, cold reality:

1. The school run
The dream: Dry, crisp mornings, grabbing our scarves and coats as we run out of the door (even in my dreams, we are late for school, to imagine otherwise would be laughable), holding hands as we crunch our way through the carpet of dry leaves on the pavement. Ebony kicking the leaves high as she runs beside me, both giddy with the joy of autumn.
The reality: Constant rain. Umbrellas dragged inside out by the wind. Shoes and sock and underwear soaked from the waist-deep puddles that line the path to school. Shoes squelching beneath our feet. The soggy leaves sit in clumps at the side of the path, doing little other than hiding the piles of dog crap beneath.

2. Nature walks
The dream: Taking long walks in the woods, kids laughing and giggling in delight, searching beneath the leaves to find the acorns and conkers beneath. Pockets bulging with chestnut-coloured conkers on the way home. A bag filled with delicate and beautiful autumn leaves.
The reality: Dragging the kids out, bribing them with stories of fairies and other things we definitely won’t see on our walk. Mud everywhere. Wet leaves, deep puddles, so much mud.
Jumping in puddles very quickly turns to sitting in puddles which very quickly turns to crying in puddles. The walk home is more of a hardship as I carry a mud-dipped toddler home, my coat getting coated in mud thanks to the filthy pair of wellies pressed against me.

3. Autumnal crafts
The Dream: Cosy afternoons at home with glue, glitter and a selection of foraged autumn leaves. Conkers become caterpillars, leaves glued to card to form a variety of wild animals and pinecones decorated to become hedgehogs. The walls of the house become an art gallery paying homage to the season.
The reality: The five-year-old manages to make one picture before the leaves are picked off by the toddler. Glue gets spilt. Craft afternoon quickly descends into chaos and tears. Scrunched up leaves cover the house, I spend most of the afternoon wrestling conkers from the toddler’s mouth, everybody has specs of glitter stuck to their scalp for weeks. I stand barefoot on a pinecone and teach the kids a new expletive in the process.

4. Autumn clothes
The dream: Evenings spent knitting beautiful homemade scarves to go with their adorable snuggly winter coats. Each time we leave the house, strangers ask to photograph us because the girls look so sweet.
The reality: Frustrating evenings spent knitting scarves that inexplicably end up triangular. The new coat comes home on the first day with three missing buttons, only one of which the five-year-old managed to hold onto. School mornings spent fixing yet more holes in the already ridiculously crap scarves I knitted. People laugh at us as we run down the street on the way to school.

5. Halloween
The dream: Afternoons spent crafting to create beautiful decorations to decorate the house. All of the food we eat is Halloween-themed with a healthy twist - jack o’lantern muffins, ghoulish bananas and spiderweb noodles. Both children look adorable yet terrifying in their Halloween costumes.
The reality: The Halloween Pinterest board gathers dust for another year as I am forced to concentrate my efforts on the impossible task of trying to find non-sexy Halloween outfits for small children. Eventually, give up and dress the kids up in obscenely short and corseted witches outfits, grown-up versions of which are probably popular in fetish brothels in remote corners of the globe. Sugar overload.

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