We recently began watching a new sitcom called, ‘The Kids Are Alright’. It follows an American family in the early seventies as they raise eight sons.
It has echoes of ‘The Wonder Years’ and ‘Malcolm in the Middle’; heavy on the nostalgia, a soothing narrator delivering the moral of the story and the subsequent lessons learned combined with eight boys clattering each other at various intervals throughout.
“Were you like that?” I enquired of Himself.
“Christ yeah! But worse!”
My husband is one of three boys; a dynamic that I have no knowledge of with having only the one brother. To this day, I don’t know how his mother survived unscathed.
Every so often casual tales are dropped into the conversation along the lines of ‘Remember that time with the wardrobe…?’ Which pertains to the incident where one brother was shoved into the hefty piece of furniture as the other two toppled it against the bed so as to block his escape.
They left him there for a considerable number of hours. They filled copybooks with every swear word imaginable, they launched themselves and each other from any height, they consumed such mounds of food that my mother-in-law would be gifted a barrel of spuds at Christmas for her custom.
“My Dad used to try and reign us in by getting us to do jobs around the place but it never lasted… we would just end up fighting.”
In an effort to occupy them and get some painting done, their Dad would tape pound notes to the ceilings which they could only remove once they reached that point in the decorating process. They would be left to their own devices to race each other to the cold hard cash, giving each other dead arms along the way.
My husband is a child of the seventies and I of the eighties. When parenting was just as relaxed in its approach. Therefore, you would think that some of same would have rubbed off on me. Turns out it did not.
I’m a dormant individual by nature; give me a roaring fire, good book and a little glass of something and I am set. Therefore, the Universe saw it good and fit to bestow children upon me that are veritable adrenaline junkies. As a result, I have adopted less of the eighties approach of, ‘You’re grand!’ and instead have developed somewhat of a hovering style of parenting.
In controlled circumstances, sports, enclosed parks I am cool as a cucumber. But they have gotten older and as a result want to stretch their legs a bit more.
On the week my husband was off, we planned a number of day-trips. Weather matters not a jot to us; we just throw all necessities in the boot and hit the road. We headed in the direction of Wexford with promises to pull in to all those places we normally pass and promise to return to. Our first stop was the National Heritage Park; a firm favourite.
Wide open spaces are what my children crave. While friends could not understand my preference towards such when my children were younger, I could not understand their passion for those hell landscapes which were soft play. I would rather stick a raincoat on my child and make them stand in a ditch for shelter than witness the Dante’s Inferno of lurid colours, wailing and bodily secretions that warrants paying admission to. So far so eighties.
Then came the waterfall. Mahon Falls is a breath-taking spectacle of nature. As are the winding roads dotted with wayward sheep on the approach. But as the scale became apparent, so too did my worry. “Should I put the helmets on them? They’re in the boot,” said with one hand on my phone as I checked what our health insurance covered in relation to ‘waterfall incidents’ and the other hand rooting for the aforementioned headgear.
As I extracted my being from the car, they were already a good distance down the track.
“Don’t worry Mum.” shouted the eldest, “We watched loads of Parkour videos last night!”, as he gave a thumbs up before pelting off with my husband and daughter.
“Not on my watch,” muttered I, as I gathered momentum and chased after them.
Two hours later, exhausted and with the greatest casualty being a mere nettle sting and my bruised ego from falling into the river, we fell back into the car.
“Wasn’t it grand? Wasn’t everyone fine? Oh, I promised them chips on the way home so we need to stop somewhere.”
“Fine. I was thinking though, there’s a bit of painting to be done; do you want to tape down a few coins and leave them at it…?”