Today we braved the money-eating expedition known as the school summer fair.
I use the word ‘summer’ loosely because, as predicted, the heavens opened as we arrived.
Amongst the usual array of tombolas, raffles, and face painting was a ‘water or wine’ stall. I’m sure you’re familiar with the premise; you hand over a pound, choose a gift bag and pray to the fete gods that it contains wine not water. Your luck obviously varies depending on the water to wine ratio.
This got me thinking that the ‘water or wine’ concept can be applied to quite a lot of the aspects of parenting.
You get up in the morning and attempt to prepare breakfast; will it be:
Wine – They all require the same, easy, mess-free breakfast variant.
Water – They all ‘need’ a different cereal/shape of toast/the only bowl you can’t find.
School run; will it be:
Wine – All children ready at door complete with bags, coats, shoes and a smile. Followed by a pleasant walk with friendly chat, arriving at desired location with plenty of time to spare.
Water – The school morning black hole consumes one of each pair of socks, 2 water bottles and an entire pe kit. Two small people in a pram with a further two dragging along behind, akin to walking two untrained greyhounds whilst steering a lame horse. Pleasant walk becomes power walk. Location reached……..eventually.
Trips out in public; will it be:
Wine – Three beautifully behaved children, smartly dressed, interested in their surroundings along with a sleeping baby who wakes to eat, is sociable for a few minutes then drifts back to sleep.
Water – A random array of outfits stretching from a summer dress with wellies to a full on spiderman costume after a last minute shriek of “just put something on will you”. Waning interest after the realisation that there’s no play area/gift shop/horses/star wars display. A screaming baby who requires hour long meal stops, followed by a clean nappy, followed by a complete outfit change.
Bedtime; will it be:
Wine – A relaxing bathtime, followed by clean pyjamas, bedtime stories, cuddles and snoozing.
Water – A flooded bathroom, demands for certain nightwear (some of which I’m sure we’ve never owned). A search to ensure that the longest possible story is selected. Annoyance at the quality of the character voices provided. And of course; delaying tactics. Allow me to outline some of favourites:
- My elbow itches.
- My pillowcase matches my covers….I wanted mismatched.
- My dolly isn’t tired.
- Everyone else is making too much noise.
- I’m too hot in my covers…..
- I’m too cold without my covers.
- My Stormtrooper is looking at me funny.
The whole job of parenting small children hovers precariously between good and bad. Sometimes one outweighs the other, sometimes they’re fairly even and sometimes you just have to make the best out of either.
On this occasion when I handed over my pound and selected my gift bag I was rewarded with wine (Sauvignon Blanc to be precise). Another time it will be plain old water. But, you know, without the occasional ‘water’ scenario you’d never appreciate the ‘wine’ moments. Also sometimes, just sometimes, it’s possible to turn water into wine.
Welcome to my world