We live a ten minute stroll from school. It quite often takes us a half hour or more to walk home.
I’m blessed to have a job that allows me to pick-up my children from school four days of the week. I’m so very mindful of reconnecting with my children at the end of the school day. Whilst mornings and evenings can be rushed, I like the afternoons to be in slow motion. ‘Walking with’ and taking time is so very important.
The boys like to connect with their friends after school. they play handball or soccer in the school courtyard. I never hurry them. Sometimes I’m able to catch up with other parents or have a chat with the teacher-librarian. The boys like to run around the school oval enjoying the space to themselves.
The eldest boy does parkour on the seats, railings, fences, and walls. I admire his balance and nimbleness as I wince and catch myself saying “be careful”, to which he says “Always am Mum” with a wry smile. Whenever we are out and I can’t see him, I just look up, he’s the kid walking along the top of the soccer goals, or up a tree or a lightpost.
We walk home slowly. The boys can talk about their day, or not.
The youngest boy likes to pick the flowers that are spilling out onto the footpath from people’s gardens, “for you Mum”. My middle boy, the live-in-his-head boy whom I have to frequently remind that he needs four hugs per day for survival, slips his hand into mine and we hold hands as we walk.
I’m frequently carrying their school bags as they run back and forth playing games on the footpath. The first one to the next letter box “gets the cake”, a pretend game that one of them made up years ago. They hide in bushes to scare me as I walk past, the bushes wiggling and giggling as I approach. We say g’day to other people in the neighbourhood, people walking their dogs or watering their gardens.
We walk in the heat and the rain. This week it rained and the boys and a friend floated leaves and sticks on the water flowing in the gutters. Two boys refused the umbrella I offered them because they wanted to get wet. The youngest opening his mouth to catch raindrops on his tongue as he walked.
This time is like a great big sigh. I’m always amazed at how much life the boys can squeeze out of the walk home from school.
And when we finally get home we have afternoon tea together to connect at a deeper level. Sometimes this time is heavy and silent, sometimes it’s so chattery it makes my head spin. I hold whatever space they need.
And then they go off, on their separate ways or together, for more play or to do homework, for an hour or more, before we have to get ready for soccer training, kung fu, or futsal.
Penrith has a farmers market once per month. We’d never been, so on this rainy and cold Saturday (14 degrees celsius in summer!) we went down to have a look. When I saw the carrots I was taken back to my childhood and my heart was a-flutter – dirty carrots with the tops on them. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Kalamatta olive sourdough. Fruit spelt bread. Saltbush lamb. Simple food that feeds the soul and the body. We went home and I made bruschetta for lunch to my children’s delight. Then for dinner, we had saltbush lamb, kipfler potatoes, dutch carrots, jap pumpkin, and green beans. The boys declared it was the “best dinner we’ve ever had”. The boys who normally despise shopping are keen to go to the next farmer’s market. They loved the personal nature of the market, being able to talk to the stallholders about their product, and the food was so much tastier.