It is a truth universally acknowledged that whenever the Grange Gardens café opens in a blaze of sunshine, the weather will instantly start leaping about across the calendar. So it was this week. Monday: café opens, and it’s April, all sunny and bright. Tuesday: rainy February, cold enough to bung the heating back on. Wednesday: July, people wearing sandals and saying, ‘phew what a scorcher.’ Today it’s September: warm but an autumnal nip in the air. I have missed my calling; I so should have been a weather girl.
Anyway, I was thinking how this was the first Grange Café opening day I have missed in several years, as both children are now at school, and that led to a bittersweet reflection about how life changes, and how we are gradually re-introducing activities that were closed off during the toddler years. Not that sort of activity. I mean things like choosing restaurants for their food, rather than the wipe-downability of their furnishings. Visiting the loo on one’s own. And going for proper walks.
Everyone deals with having kids differently. Some create the metaphorical equivalent of an empty room, stand well back and wait to see what the kid will have them do. Others say, ‘We’re going to carry on exactly as we always have.’ Friends of friends did this: bunged their baby in a sling and legged it up the Hindu Kush. (Have just looked up Hindu Kush to check it is something you leg up. It is.) They were all happy until their child learned to say ‘no’, around the age of ten months. I went to the opposite extreme, creating a lifestyle devoted to minimising the possibility of toddler tantrums, in me or the children. Yes, one’s horizons might thus narrow to Monkey Bizness and the Grange, but on the other hand it means never having to be stuck half-way up the Hindu Kush playing ‘I Spy’ for fourteen hours in order to avoid an epic scream-fest because the yak’s milk tea tastes ‘yucky.’
Then last week we were driving along the A27 when Thing Two stuck his head out the window and said, ‘I want to go up that mountain.’ For sure, Mount Caburn isn’t the H. Kush but it’s big for a small boy who’s been shielded from adult pursuits. We took him at his word and a few days later caught the train to Glynde and walked back to Lewes over the ‘biggest mountain ever’. Predictably, he started to moan immediately we left the train. But by the judicious distribution of chocolate-based snacks every ten yards, and by sherpa-ing him on the back of an obliging sheep, and, yes, by playing ‘I Spy’ even though he would insist that ‘grass’ begins with a ‘j’, we made our first successful return into the world of grown-up walks.
I’ll just about be ready for another one next year. In the meantime, it’s back to the Grange Café. Once the weather’s settled down a bit, anyway.
Beth Miller, 7th April 2011. Published in VivaLewes.com. Photo by Chris Winterflood.