Despite what the majority of this blog implies, having kids isn't all bad. They're generally decent, kind creatures and at least once a day my heart feels as if it will explode with love for them as I watch them learning to be human. When they are spontaneously kind to other kids, or when they are afraid to try something new but do it anyway, or when they hurl themselves at a family member with 100 percent love and affection - this brings me pure pride and happiness. They have helped me relearn what joy is.
Then there are the little things - tiny parcels of happiness they have inadvertently sprinkled into our day to day life. So many of them were things I enjoyed as a child and have somehow discarded on the way to adulthood. Therefore, my listicle today is made up of the childhood pleasures my kids have reintroduced to me:
Why did I ever stop eating these? They are tiny pots of scrumminess, enough sugar to give you a buzz but small enough to feel slightly virtuous.
Jumping in puddles
I'm not convinced this was de rigeur pre-Peppa Pig but it is now an intrinsic part of childhood (and parenthood) and rightly so.
I have touched on this before but it really is a bloody excellent way to pass an hour or so
I am putting this in because friends assure me it is jolly, wholesome fun. I will need quite a few more sessions at the gym before letting my wobbly arse sag over both sides of a bicycle seat in public.
Ham, fried eggs, baked beans and potato waffles for dinner.
This is the best kind of comfort food - minutes to make, a joy to eat and minimal washing up. Perfect.
Be it bugs or birds, getting down on the ground and watching beasts go about their business is fascinating. I totally get that birds evolved from dinosaurs.* Have you spent any time with a swan? It's clearly a T-Rex that's had a makeover.
Bananas and custard
Again, why did I ever stop? This is a joy of a pudding and a piece of piss to make if you buy ready made custard. (I tried to make my own custard once, from powder. It did not go well. I served it to my kids as 'custard cake' because it was solid. They were not impressed. We shall not speak of this again.)
Myths and Legends**
There's a reason these stories have lasted millennia. They are proper, powerful insights into the human condition. It's really interesting to reappraise these stories as an adult, once you've actually experienced the emotions, learnt how the world works for yourself and lived your own stories.
Messing about in water
In my twenties swimming was a serious business; cutting through the water with cold efficiency, like a really boring shark. These days I'd much rather hoist a small child on my shoulders and try to drown my husband and the other kid, cackling like loons as we do so. Also, "synchronised swimming" - I can still do a handstand, a forward and backward roll and collapse in giggles when I attempt an underwater cartwheel. I love larking about in the pool, it's properly life affirming.
Seamus Heaney has always been the soundtrack to my life; weddings, births and deaths have all been marked with his words, but I seem to have left most poetry behind me. I seem to have gotten into the habit of only reading it to kids. The magnificent Julia Donaldson and Michael Rosen always make bedtime stories a treat. I have rediscovered my favourite childhood poems like Up the Airy Mountain, The Owl and the Pussycat, Cottleston Pie, The Highwayman. All the classics. After six years of this, I have finally been inspired to start exploring poetry for myself once more. Kate Tempest is my most recent discovery and is exceptional. It's nice to say hi to Syliva Plath, Stevie Smith and Wendy Cope again too. To be honest I doubt I'll be working my way through Aurora Leigh any time soon but I should be able to manage a sonnet a week, or a haiku at the very least.
So that's my list, I'd love to know if you have any rediscovered pleasures you'd like to share with others too. That's what comments are for, i think.
*This provides an answer to the question, which came first the chicken or the egg? It was the egg - lizards lay eggs and they were around before birds.
**There's an excellent podcast called The Myths and Legends Podcast (surprise), which makes each story sound like it's part of Serial and to be honest with the behaviour of some of those Greek Gods they could well be.