Since there's been a man painting in our house for the past week, we've been spending every day out. It's been costly, stressful, tiring, enlightening and fun all mixed up.
On Thursday, we went to my Dad's apartment for the day. The children love it there. Lady and Thomas played snakes and ladders and 4-in-a-row, and Duncan checked their cupboards for sweet things/looked through the Argos catalogue/played with trains. My step-mum encouraged me to go out for a while, so I took the opportunity of meeting up with Gordon for lunch at a (quite upmarket) restaurant. It's clientele was mostly men in suits and elegant ladies, with hair that's 'done' once a week. We had a really nice meal, and when Gordon went back to work, I went off and spent some of his hard earned cash on some clothes for me. I got back to the children after a couple of hours away feeling like I'd been on holiday. This is certainly one of the benefits of living quite close to your parents!
On Friday, it was my mother-in-law's turn to put up with us for a while. I had to leave Duncan and Lady with her while I took Thomas to the optometrist for an eye test. He was so solemn sitting there during the test, and even when he couldn't make out the test letters, he always had a guess- he'd never admit to not knowing! So, he is a bit short-sighted (not surprising since Gordon and I both are) and we went off to choose some frames for him. He's delighted of course, bring him closer to his goal of looking like Harry Potter.
After that, my MIL had to go out, so to use up some more time, I took all the children to the transport museum. I asked Lady to stay with Thomas and make sure he was OK so I could stay with Duncan. At first, Duncan was 'stuck' in the cafe, crying for cakes or chocolate bars, but I knew he wasn't hungry as he'd just eaten before we arrived. He also had a hard time getting past the big display case of with the model railway and a Percy and Thomas train in there too. He kept trying to open the glass door, while I tried to distract him with something else, and threatened to take him home. After a bit of noise, he started to run off to look at some other things. A group of men were setting up some model railways for a one day exhibit the following day. I was right beside Duncan, with my hand on his shoulder, making sure he didn't cause any harm to the intricate, lovingly arranged sets. He did reach out and touch one signal post, even though I was whispering to him to 'just look, not touch.' One of the men setting up snapped at me, 'don't let him touch anything.' Duncan was struggling to get away from me again, and I thought 'grumpy ould f.' and called Lady to tell her we'd have to leave right away. Duncan cried and said he wanted to go on the big engine, so I relented and took him to climb into the cab of one of the steam trains. And that was the turning point, from then on he was great and we all had a lovely time. About 20 minutes later, the man who'd spoken to me earlier came past. I avoided eye contact, feeling very offended and all, but he came up and apologised for snapping at me earlier. Wow, I wasn't expecting that! I did appreciate it though. I told him that I did have to stay close to Duncan who's autistic and loves trains, but could inadvertently cause damage. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if Duncan joins their group in 10 years time!
The rest of that day was spent having lunch in the McD place, running about in the forest park (we all patted a beautiful Great Dane) and watching part of a DVD in the car while it rained.
Yesterday we went to the local indoor play area. We arrived at 11.15 but couldn't go in as they only can let preschool aged children in before 12. So we had an early lunch, more junk food at the drive through, then went back for 12 on the dot. The children had the place entirely to themselves and made the most of it. Thomas was brave enough to go down the huge, high, inflatable slide with Lady, and Duncan went on a bouncy castle for the first time. He spent more time in the ball pool though.
We then drove back to my Dad's apartment for the afternoon and Duncan did some reading practise using the Argos catalogue; he can now read all sorts of important words like 'busy time Thomas' and Grrr, Roar, Ding and Toot.