Long-suffering readers to this blog know it doesnt take much to distract me from the reading routine. I truly believe in and love reading with the Monkey, but I am nothing if not easily distracted. It’s been the 15 hour a day work habit (since cracked), a trip to nanny’s, a trip to grandad’s, seeing friends, not seeing friends, even just the dread of reading a book before a usually later than it should be bedtime because it descends into “read it again please”. Another 10 times and then, before you know it, you’re looking down the barrel of a time-out and toy removal intervention. I’d read to her all night long, if only it didn’t result in having to shoehorn her from her bed the next morning, irritated and venomous. So, if we are going to read, despite the name of this blog, it has to be done a reasonable distance from bedtime. Now it’s the turn of new-sprung summer to get in the way of a reasonable bedtime hour and eat into the limited time we have to do useful and meaningful things before said bedtime. I hate it when people whine about the weather (what do you MEAN it’s TOO HOT??) so please don’t think I’m one of those. As I said, I’m just that I’m easily distracted.
Also, violins are unnecessary, but I don’t really get to do the lovely bits of parenting other than on Saturdays or Sunday (which is why it’s really important to try and be in the moment, however stressfull it can be, otherwise, bam! you’ve missed all of it, not just the time you spend working). We’re the cliche of a weekend dad/ mum and we’re not even divorced. Monday to Friday, it’s the childminder who has custody.
So, last night I decided to stuff the routine such as it is and head to the park after collecting her from the childminder to enjoy the evening without being cooped up in the flat. By the time we got home and cleaned up, after a really lovely time I might add, we’d missed bedtime and with it, the chance to read anything together. Tonight was still more beautiful than last night, so despite the threat to both bedding and booking we repeated both park and ice-cream and had a brilliant time. Monkey returned home sporting a veneer of baked beans, paint, icecream, grass, sand and juice. She looked like a walking 90cm art installation. In the absence of a hose, a bath was given and enjoyed and then – despite the lateness of the hour – I bit the bullet and read Monkey Puzzle with her. She was a bit insistent that I read it again, which I didn’t capitulate to, but surprisingly settled down without drama all the same immediately afterwards. Maybe I’m wrong, but perhaps her needs are being met a little better, so the demand for more attention isnt there in quite the same way. Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps the sun has just put her in a good mood.
I’m loving how much she’s now getting from books. It’s been a long road to get here, but I’m so glad it’s one we are on. The longer, lighter nights and the opportunity to get out and about in the evenings is also thrilling. So how to balance all of these things into the two and a half hours from tipping off the train from work to getting her into her bed? Perhaps I now just require a bit (more) forward planning: picking up a chilled drink from London Bridge for her on the way home and making sure there’s a book in the bag to read in the park in between wolfing down ice-creams and tearing about on the slides. She gets her exercise and a 99, we get some time precious time together and we also get to read without tears before bedtime. I just need a sliiightly longer todo list.