The boys were off school this week for midterm break and we’d lots of plans. On Monday morning we got up, each packed their own bag to go stay with Granny and Grandad (I checked them to ensure there was underwear and not just toys). We had breakfast (and second breakfast), lined the bags up at the door and got our coats on.
Then I went to get the car keys. And they weren’t where they should be. So I looked for them.
And spent the next THREE hours doing so.
In those three hours I broke the monotony of the search with several frazzled phone calls to my husband at work. I was secretly (not that secretly) convinced that he must have taken them with him. I’m not mean, he has form. Well, we both have, we’ve both left the other stranded at home while we had their keys over an hour away, and the spare too, for good measure. This time he claimed to be innocent. I wasn’t convinced.
I decided to take control of the situation. (Not just to make this blogpost have a happy ending).
After the first ten minutes I told the kids to take off their coats and I turned the TV on. This meant I had only one child to deal with, Laoise gets fed up of TV. It also meant that the boys couldn’t see how stressed I was! A good parenting call, a conscious decision. I also decided not to shout. Another good move, and a rare one. I may have frightened the boys by my lack of shouting. It’s uncharactertistic. I didn’t want their midterm to start like that. I was determined to rise above this (what I thought was a) temporary setback.
The Prime Suspect in the mystery of the disappearing car keys helped me to look by emptying all the presses, even the ones I had already looked in. I checked the fridge, the dishwasher, the oven. Zero. I checked Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp. I looking behing the radiators. I gave the children snacks. I fielded two work phonecalls to clarify things I handed quite finalised last week.
I rang my mother with updates. She said she’d seen something on the internet about using the second remote control key over the phone to open the car. I googled, It said it *might* work. I rang my husband again and we tried. It didn’t. Then I rang him again. And again. Convinced he’d find them in his pocket, yet not convinced enough to stop me going through the bin. Twice. With Laoise “helping” and getting ideas for future mischief. I checked the laundry basket. ALL the laundry baskets.
I was losing hope. Our little holiday wasn’t going to happen. I had a sneaking suspicion that the keys might be locked in the car, so every half hour or so I’d go peer in the windows to see if I could see them.
Not even a glint.
Back inside the troops were getting restless. Cathal would appear and ask if I’d found them yet. Rather than bark at him, I kept smiling and teased in my nice voice “don’t you think I’d have told you?” “He’d giggle and run off. Mother of the year judges, I hope you’re taking note.
Laoise peeled herself a clementine onto the floor. Cathal announced he’d accidentally wet himself. A favourite mug was smashed on the kitchen floor. It was time.
A call needed to be made. I surrendered. I told the kids I was going to stop looking and we’d just enjoy our day at home. Ciarán looked at me disappointedly and in his best TV voice said “Mam, I never thought you were a quitter”.
Gawwwwwd, my heartstrings. This required a quick and considered reaction. I reassured him that it was for the best for everyone if we stopped looking. He said he understood in his best voice but then announced he was going for a nap. Unsolicited naps for six-year-olds don’t happen I was on the alert, but I went upstairs to find him asleep. His sister went to bed too and I spent some alone time with Cathal, while logging on to my work email and finishing a few things up before my few days off.
It later emerged that the boys’ compliance was due to them being sick, their bright red cheeks being the giveaway of slapped cheek virus. Blankets, TV and cuddles on the couch for the afternoon after a late lunch of omelettes. The day was actually turning out OK. We stayed in and had Calpol and hot drinks. The afternoon was quite pleasant, considering.
The morning’s dramas were forgotten. Heroic Dad was met with a fanfare when he arrived home at 7.15pm and used the spare key to unlock the car and the other set of keys were found in the centre console. (And he was absolved from most suspicion, despite his having locked them in, but I did put them there). So we put the bags into the car and started our little holiday 9 hours later than planned. It all worked out, the kids loved the adventure of getting to Granny’s at bedtime and were out like lights. It all worked out. We had the right attitude, and the necessary Calpol and Nurofen supplies.
The kids mostly slept the night (even though all three of them spent a short period in my bed together, til like in the song, they all rolled over and one fell out declaring things too squashy and retreated to his own single bed). We got to Kennedy Park a day later than planned, and stayed in Duncannon two nights instead of one in the end. We visited Hook Lighthouse, a place that has drawn me in since I was a child and we’d go there on Sundays to watch “the breakers” on wild days. Granny and Grandad were excellent hosts and facilitated make and do sessions, early rises and sweetie eating.
We had a great mini- midterm break, the two extra days I took off.
That Monday reminded me that having a bad day is often down to attitude. I consciously made the decision to not let the stress get to me. I didn’t want to waste the energy on getting cross. I enjoyed not being at work and being with my kids, I didn’t cry over the fact that we were meant to be in Kennedy Park in the sunshine rather than emptying the bin. The boys would have been too sick to do that anyway. Some days can work out if we don’t give in to the bad. And some things are just meant to happen. So, I’m resolving to remember this day and to try to keep my cool, to rise above it, and make the best of things. It’s all down to attitude, I’m adopting this approach and like Ciarán said I’m not a quitter.