Often our weekends are taken up with children’s sports, their parties, their friends, their sleepovers; as well as their homework, assignments, projects, speeches, escapades and dramas. But last weekend we took a break from parenting and spent time socialising and catching up with our own friends.
For my mental health I needed parental leave. Archie has been on uni holidays which has meant a lot of loitering around the house. I asked him when he was going back to uni and he said, ‘I don’t know’.
‘What do you mean you don’t know?’
‘I haven’t checked’.
‘Well it’s probably already started’.
‘Probably’, he said as he shrugged without concern and headed back up the stairs.
Then Arabella popped out of her room and said she’s unable to do her maths work because her ‘computer is too old’. I think I’m still paying it off! I told her there must be some way it can be upgraded so the uni assignments can be downloaded onto her very old two-year old laptop. And then she started up about her birthday party. (I didn’t know she was having one).
‘You don’t have to have a birthday party every year, you know’, I advised.
‘Yes I do. And I’ve chosen the cake I want. I’ll email you a picture’.
And a mean boy at Alfie’s school stole his lunch. Ripped it out of his hands. It was a sausage roll and sauce. I ordered it for him from the canteen because it was a cold and wet day so I thought it would warm him up. And because he loves sausage rolls I also knew he would eat it. And he needs to eat because at the moment he’s so thin I can count all his ribs. The mean boy snatched his lunch order bag then twirled it over his head then threw it on the ground and stomped on it. Bye, bye sausage roll! So I had to send an email to his teacher saying children should not snatch food from skinny boys because their parents already go to bed worrying their child has expended more energy than they have consumed.
So we took the weekend off.
On Friday night we went to a friend’s home to celebrate his recent promotion. It was a catered cocktail party that would have been held in their garden except the weather forced a re-think and we stayed inside and out of the rain. We had a great time catching up with a lot of people we hadn’t seen in a long time. There was a great variety of food but I particularly liked the ham being placed on the table and sliced in front of us and put into very fresh miniature rolls with a choice of condiments. A glazed ham is always so eye-catching and festive.
After stumbling through the front door at 2am we woke to more rain. We did hope it would ease up as we were off to a party that night to celebrate a friend’s 50th. And they were hoping to have it outside! Alas, the rain persisted and so furniture was rearranged to make room for the one hundred guests. Let me tell you about their three sons.
They are the same age as Archie and Arabella. The boys were smartly dressed in ironed white shirts with black bow ties and black pants with long black aprons. All three of them had done the cooking for the party!
They made their own hummus, threaded baby bocconcini, cherry tomatoes and mint onto skewers, made a ‘palate cleanser’ of cubed watermelon with a little goat’s cheese and a dash of fresh mint, roasted eye fillets of beef and made a chimichurri sauce.
They operated the kitchen, worked behind the bar, served all the food and said speeches about their father without using any notes. So accomplished. As much as I was impressed, when I thought about Archie not knowing how to load the dishwasher and Arabella storing fresh spinach in the freezer, it was hard not to cry out, ‘Where did I go wrong?’
Another 2am stumble through the door and you guessed it, we woke to more rain. And it was Father’s Day. I slow-roasted two shoulders of lamb for seven hours and served it with a homemade aioli, a carrot, suede and potato mash and a mixture of steamed greens with this season’s asparagus to help convince us that despite the weather, it is actually Spring.
After I put the lamb in the oven for it’s seven-hour journey to ‘meltingly tender’, I realised I now couldn’t put a dessert in the oven. ‘I need a double-oven, Carl’, I cried out inappropriately (seeing Father’s Day is not a day that’s all about me). And then I had to think about what I could cook that could only go into the oven once the main course was served. I chose individual berry crumbles with a topping made with coconut flour, pecans and oats. They were served straight from the oven with a dollop of ice cream.
And now it’s Monday and Archie’s loitering with seemingly no intention of going back to uni, Arabella is at uni but not doing maths and instead sending me pictures of prospective birthday cakes and I’m thinking of my little guy and mentally adding up his calorie intake minus energy expended. It’s time to plan another weekend of parental leave.