The life of a runner, mother, radiopharmacist and vicar's wife – that's me!
I’m on the train and I have no kids in tow. This means that I haven’t had to practice my weight lifting skills by carrying all their stuff across the station concourse. I haven’t had to try to fold the pushchair one-handed while, at the same time making sure that my toddler doesn’t run off or that my older son doesn’t upset his sister. I haven’t had to try to squeeze the pushchair into an impossibly tight space in the luggage rack on the train or to buy the entire stock of chocolate from the buffet in order to stop the youngest crying because I won’t let him sit in the pushchair on the train. I haven’t had to swap seats three times so that everybody is sitting where they want to sit or remove the entire contents of my bag to find the packet of crisps that the kids want to eat. I haven’t had to colour in the CBeebies magazine or take part in iSpy or Guess the Animal. I haven’t had to do any of those things as I left the kids at home!
I should clarify that I did mean to leave them behind. It isn’t simply that I forgot them! They are (relatively) safely in the care of my husband.
So, I now have the luxury of a couple of hours on the train on my own and I don’t even have anyone sitting next to me! It’s brilliant. I’ve decided at least to do something useful with my time so I’ve been listening to a few old episodes of ChinesePod.
I’ve been trying to learn Chinese (on and off) for years and we got relatively good at it when we’re living in China but now I can’t remember half the vocabulary so I’m having a bit of a bash at picking it up again. Rather than sign up for new lessons I decided to learn some of the old lessons. They aren’t really quite as slick as the new podcasts but they are still really good for learning Chinese even if they had to improvise a bit back then (the one I just listened to had a woman as the man – which was a tad confusing).
I still hope that we’ll be able to go back to China at some stage, but my Chinese is going to have to be a lot better than “Do you know if Lily has a boyfriend” or “I don’t feel very well” if I’m going to actually be able to do anything useful.
Pretty much the first words I learnt when we went to China were “change nappy/diaper.” It is amazing how useful these few words were. In fact, most of my early vocabulary centred around children. When I wanted to be discussing politics or religion or even culture, I would find the conversation had headed in the direction of whether my daughter was well behaved or why she had blue eyes when mine are brown.
The problem with trying to learn Chinese at home is that, whenever I think that I might have a few spare minutes, while the kids are playing nicely, to listen to an episode of ChinesePod and I get my iPod out and untangle my headphones and I sit down in a comfy chair ready to listen to the lesson, it is at that very moment that complete bedlam breaks out. The toddler needs his nappy changing, the older ones want something to eat, there is a disagreement over an insignificant toy, the Kindle has run out of power and nobody can find the charger, Lightening McQueen has become wedged inside Mack and won’t come out, somebody can’t find their ‘other’ shoe. It’s always just at that moment when I press ‘play’ that these things happen. Why is that? So I haven’t got much beyond “Do you know if Lily has a boyfriend?” But it isn’t for want of trying.
I’m going to enjoy my kid free time but I will still miss them – even though they can be a bit annoying at times!