The children are back at school (despite the snow today) and I have the chance to return to the computer, to the blog, and to the enormous pile of ironing...
I love this time of the year, when we actually get a week at home to spend time together as a family. We had no anxieties about travelling anywhere - choosing to walk around the village in the snow rather than drive and having The Oldies visiting us for Christmas itself. The four of us had a lovely time together: playing games, reading books, watching Mary Poppins, being beaten by son at Mario Cart Wii.
We all eat together, which I think is one of the most important things a family can do. We sit at the table and talk. And (as I push the boat out) usually have dessert (I assume Christmas Cake counts in this category). It also gives us, the nasty, horrid parents, the chance to discipline our children. This year, we tried to emphasise the use of the word please.
Why is it so difficult? We have been harping on about its use for the last eight years!
Please can I have the milk?
Please will you stop singing at the dinner table?
Please sit with all four legs of the chair on the floor.
The children both struggled badly. My husband and I gave out silent screams of frustration.
But something must have sunk in. One day last week we were getting ready to go out for a walk. Like using the 'P' word, this is something the children object to (until they are actually out in the fresh air, when they love running around and throwing snowballs and clambering over tree stumps). For a good ten minutes before we leave there was whining, whinging and moaning.
"Mu-um, do we have to go?"
"Mu-um, I'm too hot, I don't want to wear my coat."
"It'll be freezing outside. Put it back on, love. And your wellies."
Then, of course, there was the sibling rivalry. The arguments ("That's mine!") were unending ("She stood on my toe!"... "Well, he hit me!" ... "But it was an accident!")
I stood in the hallway and raised my head to heaven.
"God, give me strength!"
"Please!" my son pipes up. "You forgot to say please..."