Resolutions and the school run
There’s a reason for the cliché “the tyranny of the school run”. I’m dreading having to re-engage with it tomorrow. As a not-a-morning person it always ends up being a last minute rush for us, often involving leaving the house several times and, if I’m lucky, being watched by the guy across the road smoking outside his front door. So if there’s ever something I need to apply my new year’s resolution too, it’s weekday mornings. The uniform, book bag and water bottle are ready this evening (I’m aware this is normal in most households but I managed it about three times last term) but as I suggested in my last post, I’m aiming for something more than being a bit more organised. Since my oldest started school we’ve lost a lot of quality time together. I need a way of connecting rather than disconnecting with him on the school run so tomorrow we’ll leave the house a bit early and I think we’ll invite the wood elves to join us.
Let me tell you about the wood elves. I didn’t see them coming; they just showed up one day. We were walking in Hitch Wood in Hertfordshire, a magical place in bluebell time. Only it was October and there were no bluebells. Instead it was chilly in the shade, the leaves were already falling and our designated snack spot was a way off. So my heart sank when our oldest started complaining he was cold. And he was tired. And he probably had a sore fingernail or something. My husband slowed to walk with him but, ever impatient, I was further up the path. I cast around for things to distract him for a bit. There was a soft mossy bank on the edge of the path so I brushed a bit free of leaf litter and then arranged the most brightly contrasting autumn leaves I could lay my hands on, grabbed a couple of beech nuts and two feathers that happened to be on the ground nearby. “Look!” I called back to him, “The wood elves have left you a present!” It worked much better than I’d expected. “Really?” he ran up looking delighted, or at least now out of the grump zone. He carefully picked up the ‘presents’. “Are there really wood elves here Mummy?” “I think so.” And that was it, we were away. We found wood elf palaces just along the track in some amazing old coppiced hornbeam trees, more gifts of sweet chestnuts and feathers showed up on the path and when he called to them “Hello wood elves!” they showered leaves down on him (it was a gusty day).
Those were the Hitch Wood wood elves. We said goodbye to them with promises to return with Granny and Grandad a month or so later and he was full of the gifts that he wanted to bring back (mostly puddings, cherry crumble particularly).
But then there were the wood elves of the Ashridge Estate who lived in somewhat grander ancient oak trees and before I knew it we had our own family of wood elves living with us. For the remainder of the autumn term, they frequently joined us on the school run and would be dropped off at their own school in a laurel bush near the classroom. After school they would be picked up again, rarely forgotten although often ignored for the rest of the evening. I noticed they had more holidays and sick days than my boy, but I guess that was their prerogative.
It doesn’t seem to matter that when the wood elves talk they speak in a high pitched squeaky voice and that Mummy or Daddy are facing in the other direction, nor that Mummy’s voice isn’t very high so it often cracks with the effort. They are both real and unreal and that is the magic of the four year old’s world and a bit of the magic that has come back into our lives too. So I’m going to do my best to make time for it tomorrow morning.
I haven’t forgotten the post on the inspiration for this blog, more on that soon.