Delph’s activities have been ramping up. The dance school is getting ready for their biennial ballet show. Delph’s class just snuck in, having done their grade two ballet exams a few months ago. Friday night, Delph came out of the sea from surf class, sat on two bin bags as I drove home, got stripped of her wetsuit, quick shower, bite of pizza and back in the car with her leotard on.
Next morning it was get up, go to Linda’s for 9am, drop Delph off, quick dash to the supermarket, pick Delph up, brief but meaningful chat with Linda about encoding and decoding words. To mine Linda’s brain is a never-ending fascination, but it’s Saturday morning so try not to stalk her. Delph and I were back home before 11am.
‘Hey Ma,’ Lulu chimed when we reached the front door, ‘Amalie needs to go to town to check on her sister’s rabbits.’
Amalie was spending the weekend with us – her parents away for Sarah’s opening art exhibition in Cardiff. Amalie came back from school with Lu and was staying with us all weekend. In fairness, she had mentioned something about checking on her sister’s rabbits, but besides Amalie having a fruitful imagination, I’d forgotten the details. And I’d just been to town.
‘Why does she need to check on them?’
Lulu looked non-plussed. ‘In case they ran out of water, I guess. Alana’s gone to Cardiff too.’
Urgghh. I hadn’t even put the car keys down. ‘Come on then.’
Back into town – twenty minute drive. Pulled up outside her sister’s house and Amalie rushed inside. We all followed her in and slightly snooped around her sister’s. It is a big, interesting house. Am went in to the rabbit room and came out again.
‘Did they have enough water?’ I asked.
Amalie smiled happily. ‘Yeah, they had loads.’
Lulu appeared on the upstairs landing. ‘Mum, can we go to Marks and Spencer’s? I want to spend my wages on new foundation.’
‘Why are you upstairs, Lu?’
I shrugged. ‘What time is Jamie coming round?’
‘Ok, tell him that we’ll pick him up on the way home. No need to for him to take the bus now.’
‘He doesn’t mind.’
‘Just tell him. It’ll save him bus money and it’s no detour for us.’
‘Well, we better hurry then.’
‘Thanks, Lu. I didn’t realise.’
In the middle of driving home, a phone bleeped from the crowded back seat. Delph called, ‘Mum, can Aaliyah come round?’
Ahh, Polly Pocket. We couldn’t leave her out. A weekend without Pocket in the bungalow always feels a bit empty. Even though I’ve noticed those two no longer want to play Barbies. Well, Aaliyah doesn’t – Delph wouldn’t mind. Aaliyah has set the playing sights firmly on our caravan instead – and in fairness, it’s not a bad thing. It means they’re out of the house but still safe in the yard. The bigger teenagers would have the living room then – free to watch scary movies in the middle of the day. That’s what my teenagers like to do at the moment anyway. Am I supposed to stop them? I find the safe rule applies – so I make them popcorn and try and stodge them out.
We all got home, me solo, 5 kids-deep. Fin waiting at the gate. Husband away on a weekend trip.
Lulu, leader of the tribe, called out, ‘We’re going to the park, Mum!’
Happy sigh from me. This meant I could wash my car, do mindless chores.
‘But can we have lunch first?’
I stopped. Looked at all the growing, hungry, big children in front of me. ‘No one ate lunch before they came?’
Every head shook back with a sudden, sorrowful earnestness.