I had now reached week 2 of my Easter challenge. Bloodied but not beaten by my torn quad muscle, I knew that I required a different approach to successfully navigate the second half. I am a proud man but it was abundantly clear that I needed help, so on the Tuesday after Easter Monday I did what any good Irish son does in his hour of need, I headed to my parents’ house (the place that is still called Home on my mobile phone). As a family, we are very lucky to have both sets of grandparents nearby in Dublin, I still argue the toss with my in-laws about whether Shankill really is in Dublin but they are reachable by travelling on the M50 so that is all that really matters! Anyway the kids love seeing their grandparents and vice versa, or at least the grandparents do a good enough job of faking it! As an added bonus, the garden in my folks’ house is sufficiently long for the boys to happily while away a couple of hours taking pot-shots at each other with footballs, tennis balls, rugby balls or when things get testy, pretty much any object that comes to hand. My dad has a never ending supply of gadgets which he regularly replenishes in Flying Tiger, now that Hector Grey’s is no more (feel free to google search Hector Grey’s if required but in short, think of Flying Tiger but organised in a much more scattered and much less commercial way). These amuse and amaze the kids in equal measure. Tuesday’s visit to my parents followed a familiar pattern. As soon as the boys’ energy levels began to drop in the back garden (normally signalled by one of them trying to take the head off another one) and Ella started to get a bit grumpy, my mum produced her party-piece, crackers and cheese. It is a strange thing that crackers at home are only moderately sought-after but as soon as we enter my parents’ house, they become some kind of food of the gods, a modern day ambrosia. I must say, all of us were refreshed and replenished by the experience and I could now see a path through to the end of the week.
On Wednesday I went for an old reliable, the zoo! Well at least I thought it was an old reliable until Aaron went on over his ankle running down the mound surrounding the zoo car park within 60 seconds of arrival. I just about managed to coax him to his feet and despite the howls coming out of him I was pretty sure he was going to live. I can confirm that he certainly is not blessed with his mother’s high pain threshold (4 natural births without any pain relieving medication). Then as we ambled towards the main entrance, I noticed that Oscar’s tracksuit bottoms were on back-to-front, I mean did he not notice the dubs crest on his backside! I tried to get him to do a quick change at the side of the path but he was having none of it so it was back to the car. I could feel a Roy Keane tinged red-mist starting to descend upon me and the thought of packing up and heading back to Glasnevin did cross my mind, but Ella’s plaintive little voice asking “Daddy will we see animals?” pulled me back from the brink. The zoo is great and has improved immeasurably over the years. One of the benefits of having 4 kids is that I continuously get to see it afresh through a new set of young and wondrous eyes. Also, now that the boys are a bit older they can help push Ella around in her buggy so it’s win-win!
That was Wednesday successfully negotiated and on Thursday, I received a welcome wild card, the offer of a play-date for all three boys at the same time, jackpot! In my slightly frazzled state I was more than happy to depend on the kindness of strangers / parents from St Pats BNS, thank you Gillian! Again it was a win-win situation as the boys could sense that my mindset had changed from one of expansive new ideas (or my Leinster rugby frame of mind) to one of keep everything on a tight leash and hopefully we’ll get through it (my Munster rugby frame of mind). With the sound of nerf bullets flying past my ears as I dropped the boys off, I knew that I was another step closer to the weekend.
Friday was swimming with Ella day. Ella has weekly water babies classes and has been going since she was a couple of months old (as did all the kids thanks to the foresight of their mother). I now get to enjoy being in the water with her as she splashes to her heart’s content. The boys got to come and see her which was nice for them too, cue lots of waving from the viewing area and applause whenever Ella stuck her head in the water.
I had survived, I had made it through the fortnight and now all I had to do was start researching summer camps and fast (as I type I can see Niki doing up one of here dreaded To-Do lists). Was there any real secret to my survival, I don’t think so, a few new things, a few old things and plenty of help from friends and family. In the end I’ll certainly remember it fondly (mostly). Oh and we may have played quite a bit of minecraft!