Two weeks ago my kids returned to school. Hopefully for good this time. I say this because I want them to have no disruptions, particularly for my boy who is now in his last year at primary.
School is of course a little different for both my munchkins now. Society has got used to face masks, hand sanitiser and frowning upon people who get in your personal space, so what would have been an alien environment twelve months ago is pretty much accepted these days. How times have changed!
When lockdown started it was all a little bizarre. Daunting, exhausting, nerve-wracking and dare I say exciting (which I know sounds sick), we approached it with a sense of trepidation and intrigue. How were we going to cope?
When embarking on my blog-writing journey I was warned this would happen. I was told that there would be a time when suddenly the writing would cease; that the material I have swimming around my brain would stop and my creative flow would vanish. Those who told me this were spot on.
Why have I been so quiet? Well, the answer is simple really. I am happy and content. My little blended unit is happy and content too. Yes, we have had the challenges of lockdown and I suppose, when I get a chance to reflect on it I’ll get hammering at the keys again. That blog will come. It is inevitable.
But there was one thing recently that meant I had to write again. I had to get my feelings down in written form. They say time is the biggest healer. Well, I am not so sure. Sometimes time can conjure more questions rather than provide a sense of closure, particularly for my boy.
They say nothing is more stressful than moving house. From the outset you’re worried whether house offers will be accepted, that buyer’s of your own house won’t pull out, that surveys come back with no nasty surprises and that solicitors do their jobs properly. My fiancée and I managed to overcome these hurdles with relative ease, finally finding out that we had exchanged contracts waiting for our suitcases to arrive in the luggage lounge of Zakynthos airport earlier this summer. Although I would have preferred not to have been calling around removal companies during my blended family holiday, the knowledge of moving house nevertheless stopped the holiday blues kicking in on our return to the UK, knowing we had only days to get packed and moved.
On a grey, frosty October morning, thinking back to June this year feels like ages ago; but it was then that my daughter’s eyes lit up for the first time, when she saw a decorated blue and red envelope, addressed to her, sitting on the doormat one Saturday morning. Not knowing who it was from, she eagerly opened it. To her surprise it was from Banjo Robinson.
For a second I could tell his life momentarily paused. He heard his name being called but didn’t know how to act. Turning pink, a grin emerged across his innocent face and his eyes widened with happiness. My boy had just been announced the coach’s player of the year for his football team.
Underneath the window on a hot July day sat my son. His mother had just beckoned him into the front room, taking him away from his toy cars. Sunlight poured into the room from outside, with dust dancing in its rays, putting my son underneath a spotlight. The scene was set. And then she told him.
Standing at the bar, I stared at the ales on offer but, unlike me, cared little for the drink I’d be consuming. Surrounding me were Sunday drinkers, fresh from watching the football or having had Sunday lunch, sharing jokes, sinking pints and creating an air of happiness on what was a glorious spring day.
I had other things on my mind. Earlier that morning, the ex sprung it on me that her partner was finally ready to meet me and could do so that evening. As I had been insisting on meeting this bloke for ages, I couldn’t turn down the offer. However, standing at the bar, pondering what to say to this man was an odd moment. I had already known in my mind what message I wanted to get across, but right there and then I had no idea how I’d greet this bloke. Do I shake his hand? Do I offer him a drink? What actually is etiquette when meeting the man who two years ago I found out was sleeping with my then wife, thus breaking up my family, meaning I see my kids only 50% of time in the week?
Slowing the car down, I see his gold Ford Mondeo on my ex’s drive. I don’t say anything. The kids are pretty oblivious to it. My daughter holds my hand as I guide her from the car onto the pavement, whilst my son opens the boot, grabs his stuff and makes his way to the front door.
We knock. The ex answers. There is no sign of him. Somewhere in the house he’s hiding, like a coward. My kids bid farewell, I hug them and wish them a lovely day at school before making my way to work.
When starting my blog, I was warned I’d reach a point where I would lose the pace. I was warned that out of nowhere I’d struggle for material, which would consequently breed frustration and then a lack of motivation. And guess what?! Those who warned me were right!
Time froze. It stopped. My little girl looked at her big brother, then at me. My son stood still. For the first time that evening he was lost for words. And me?! Well I wasn’t sure what to do, how to feel or how to respond. However, it had to be done. It was entirely appropriate. Soon-To-Be was left with no choice but to tell my son off for the first time.