Going to an evening school fete was the LAST thing I felt like doing. It was Friday and it had been a long week. My husband came home from work and I pounced.
“Right, Matt, we have to go. Oh, ‘Hi,’ by the way. Okay, The kids are singing in the choir. Do you remember I told you about the fete? Do you remember? Don’t tell me you didn’t remember it. We need to go. Like right now. Flossie is worried she will be late. What are we going to do about the rides? The kids have been asking me about the rides. I don’t think we should do rides, I mean we have just been to the EKKA right? Do you think we should do some rides with the kids? I’m thinking not. Maybe we can get dinner there so then we can then come home and put the kids to bed. Snags on bread. Yes, let’s do that. It will be nice not to have to cook tonight. What are we standing here for? We have to go now!”
I’m so glad no one was there video my run of words (like a crazy woman). I looked at my husband for a split second (for a second was all I could spare); it was the last thing he wanted to do too.
Fast-forward a short car trip, looking for a park, getting children in and out of the car without them breaking an arm and there we were. We were standing with a thousand other people with the noise of rides and screams ringing from every direction. Matt and I, we looked at each other with blank stares while our four children clawed around our legs.
“Muuuum, we have to go to the hall NOW. I have to meet my group.”
“I’m not sure what song I’m singing! Mum what am I singing? Muuuuum. I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M SINGING!”
“Fairy floss! Fairy floss! I’m hungry. I’m hungry. I’m sooooooooooo hungry.”
“I want to go on a ride. That one! That one!”
I don’t know how long we stood there, just like that. It was like we were in a freeze frame: Matt and I staring at each other — both exaushed with no plan and no idea what we were really doing — with our four children going mental around our legs. We felt totally in the deep end with no life ring in sight. HA!
I don’t remember how we got there, but we eventually found ourselves sitting in the hall waiting for our children’s choir performances. It was the first time we really had a minute to stop. Two of the kids were with their choir now and we each had a child sitting on our lap.
We were at crossroads here. We could either be super-feral or just laugh hysterically. There really was no middle ground. So I laughed. And Matt laughed. There was an edge to hysteria to the laugh, but the humour was there.
We looked up to see rows of children standing straight and tall on the stage. There she was: our girl. She spotted us and her face lit up in a wide grin. The next thing, I see my husband doing the i-am-looking-at-you action. You know, like this:
Of course, as usual, my daughter responded with the same in amongst the stage of still children. Yes, my child was the one doing the Robert-De-Niro-I-see-you action right before the choir performance. The people next to us took a peek at the crazy family from the corner of their eye. It was a very subtle glance; not at all like this:
I, on the other hand, was not so subtle; I looked daggers at my husband and whispered in a not-so-soft voice.
“Maaaatttt! Stop distracting her!”
I watched the corner of his mouth lift in a cheeky smirk and, I couldn’t believe it: he turned back to the stage and did it again! If looks could kill…
That’s when I gave up to the madness. This was my family. In all its imperfect wonder. My husband was always going to be the geeky guy who constantly made the children laugh at inappropriate times. And I was always going to be the one trying to “do the right thing” in an effort to keep it all together. Between our extremes is the mad place where our family lives.
My heart burst with pride as I watched my two eldest children sing and smile like angels through their performances. You know when you feel so proud, you feel like sobbing? Despite the madness, I was so glad to be sitting there right then. Here is my daughter singing a snippet from one of her songs.
Before the night’s end, there was a sausage sizzle dinner, no rides, no fairy floss, dropped bread, tomato sauce stains and me trying to hold at least 5 cans of opened soft drink. As we walked back to the car, Matt and I were laughing, about something I can’t remember, and our children were running just in front of us. Ah yes…my lovely, crazy, weird, imperfect family.
There are guides for being out at events with kids, planning for events, managing school and advice for every other situation under the sun (I even write about these subjects), but sometimes, you just have to muddle your way through and try and find ways to laugh in the process. The things you do for your kids ay? I would go to the moon and back for them if I could.