Kayleigh came to stay this weekend. She arrived Saturday afternoon, armed with her 'Frozen' rucksack and many plans. Mostly these plans involved colouring, baking, collecting eggs, watering the greenhouse, pancakes, feeding the ducks in the park and insisting she was scared of the dark and would require the presence of a night light ALL night.
Right, I thought. That is NOT going to happen. Because, contrarywise, I cannot sleep WITH a light. It is unnatural. Messes with the circadian rhythmns and all that mumbo-jumbo malarkey. And I, my small friend, need good quality, dark sleep.
Cue: Operation Exhaust The Grandchild Into Undisturbed Sleep.
'Let's go to the park NOW to feed the ducks,' said I, with all the enthusiasm of someone who knew there was NOTHING on the telly and who had just partaken of a cream tea and could already feel it by-passing her stomach straight to her backside. 'It's only six thirty! Two hours before it is dark!'
Off we went! We could find only two ducks - I now believe ducks are 'early to bed and early to rise' creatures - but the geese and swans were still loitering like dirty stop-outs, so we marched bravely into their midst and shared our bag of crumby bounty. Aren't swans on land big up close? And growly? The geese were very charming though, and fed straight from my hand (Andy and Kayleigh preferring the throw-from-a-distance method.) I then spent the rest of the walk worrying that I might have caught some rare disease from goose spit, but I am still in tickety-boo health two days later so I guess I am safe from gooseparkian salivatum yukkity-yuk. Or whatever.
Kayleigh was very keen to do some running at this point. Well, with vast plains of open parkland ahead, what else is there to do? So we ran.
Now - I haven't run anywhere for some considerable years. Never had the need to, what with Maidstone being an angry bear/ testy crocodile/ rabid velociraptor-free zone. And I don't know what got into me (the sunset? The romance? The urge to get home because I needed the loo?) but suddenly I was off! Fair sprinting I was, 'crost the grass, 'tween the trees! All right, it wasn't overly sustained sprinting, but for an almost 50-something with cream tea baggage on board, I was pretty impressed with the result. So was Kayleigh. To the point she insisted we continued performing bursts of sprinting for the next hour, along with galloping on pretend horses and some pretty energetic use of the playground equipment. I nearly got stuck in what I considered to be an unnecessarily complicated see-saw (I made do with a scaffolding plank across an oil drum when I was a child) but managed to extricate myself without looking a complete arse. I also had an exhilirating moment on a piece of open-air swingy gym equipment which has reminded me I have a waist somewhere between my ribs and hips and I ought to make a more concerted effort to find it some time. And by the time we got home it was wash time, teeth brush, bedtime story and bed. Lights out.
Yesterday we planned to go to the cinema but the weather declared it to be of seaside worthiness so after a pancakes in the garden breakfast, we packed a picnic and headed for Camber.
For those of you who don't know Camber, know verily these three things: 1) the parking is VERY expensive (pretensions of London here) 2) the tide comes in VERY fast and 3) the sand dunes are VERY high and when you climb them, for every two steps you climb up, you slide back a step and a half. It's exhausting climbing Camber Dunes. It makes your thighs BURN.
Anyway, we arrived, made camp, and the next thing I know, Andy and Kayleigh are up to their waists in the sea and jumping about like loons. Not with swimming cozzies on, mind - oh no. Because we didn't take cozzies, did we? But who needs to faff about changing into one of the most unflattering forms of clothing known to wo(man) when you can just race into the sea fully clothed? Honestly!
'Is that appropriate?' said I, with sensible person disapproval. But it is very difficult to be disapproving when faced with two fully clothed, laughing and sea-drenched persons, especially when one flings herself to the ground to make sand angels. Result - one five year old looking like she's been dipped in demerara sugar but doesn't give a hoot.
We then spent a partially successful hour amongst the dunes trying to fly a kite. This involved one substandard £4.99 kite, several near-miss dive bombings and one excitable child insisting it would work much better if we RAN.
'You can't run with the kite,' said we.
'Why not?' squealed she, caught up in the whole 'being-on-top-of-the-sand-dunes -kitey- windy-excitement' thing.
'Because you will fall off the edge of the dunes and get squished like a bug,' said we. 'And neither of your parents would be pleased if we returned you home in a flattened state.'
We bribed her with an icecream to abandon kite flying for the day.
On the drive home we played a game called, 'Wouldn't it be ridiculous if...' and then Andy and I sang a medley of Abba songs and Kayleigh, against all odds, had a 'zzzzzzzzz' for half an hour.
Back home we did colouring and reading and other bits of stuff involving slicing fruit, martial-art style, on the Wii Fit. I then insisted she had a full bath and hairwash because I didn't want to be hoovering up sand for the next fortnight. And then I read her the first 7 chapters of 'The BFG' with Andy accompanying the story through the medium of mime, and off she went to bed.
Two hours later, with Kayleigh spark out, we went up, switched off the night light and turned in ourselves. After ten minutes, a whispered conversation...
'I'm scared of the dark...'
'No you're not. Go back to sleep...'
We had pancakes in the garden again this morning. We could see our huffed breath. The seasons are turning.
Oh, to be 5 again.