Tue 30th Oct 2012
Still working through the CaveMammy back catalogue of scribbled notes on Free Range outings! This trip was the day before Halloween last October. Schools were on midterm break so we had the pleasure of the company of CaveCousinEtte who is a proper Big Kid and who brought an element of gravity to the proceedings. With three whirlwinds of enthusiasm to organise for this trip, we needed military precision in our preparations. Sets of dry clothes were gathered and sorted into plastic shopping bags for quick and easy retrieval (CaveBoy – Dunnes; CaveCousin – Superquinn; CaveCousinEtte – Lidl). I got them dressed in the kitchen of our house. It’s second nature to the boys now and they strip to underpants as soon as they see blue rain gear but the little lady had to be shown the ropes and CaveMammy had to deal with all kinds of unusual issues like pretty woollen tights and flowery hair clips. We had a spare pair of red rain dungarees for her to wear. The fashionista in her was clearly horrified by having to step into these monstrosities and when she asked if she could take them off now and it was clarified that these were for wearing outside the house, on the street, in front of real live other people, she came over all pale. But luckily she was distracted by the thoughts of adventure and got on with the job in hand.
The plan was to head to the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin but with all the commotion, we were late leaving and didn’t get down there till four, only to find that the gardens were on winter time and were closing in half an hour. The gardens’ carpark was already closed so I left the car in the carpark of the pub across the road, praying we wouldn’t be clamped and we skedaddled over to squeeze a bit of play out of the place. The kids were bouncing with the excitement and with the novelty of all being together on a school day. As soon as we went in they wanted to see the jungle I’d been promising them so we went over to the big Victorian glasshouses. They oohed and aahed at the orchids on the way in and were suitably impressed by all the jungle foliage in the big steamy dome at the centre. There’s a grass hut in the middle with an open door on either side and they spent a good fifteen minutes running round and round the paths through the dome and racing through the hut, playing some kind of chasing game, rules of which were unclear.
I started to think that it wasn’t very Free Range to be circling around a glass dome over and over again so I convinced them to move on out (more oohing and aahing at orchids) but only got them as far as the tree outside before they wanted to play superhero-you-run-i-chase-you-scream again. So I put away CaveMammy agenda of exploring the gardens and let them at it while me and CaveBaby picked up some nice autumn leaves for our nature tray at home. There was lots of excitement when the park attendant came along to ring the huge bell that announces the closing of the park and the drama of it all brought superhero-you-run-i-chase-you-scream to an abrupt close. We’d only really had a half hour of outdoor time so I decided I’d walk them down the road to Griffith Park before it got dark and let them burn off a bit more energy down there. So we left the car in situ (please don’t clamp me) and moved en masse down Botanic Avenue. There were a few moans, where IS this park anyway, but it wasn’t too far in the end and we came in out of sight of the playground which meant I could keep them playing in the trees for a bit. There was a nice stand of trees there and we played get-home-safe where they tried to get from one end of the stand to the home tree at the other end, running from safe tree to safe tree without getting caught by the person on. It was good fun and they were exhausted after it so we took a gentle wander further up towards the bridge at which point he playground was spotted and the Free Range game was up. But given the early closure of the Botanics, we felt the move to tarmac, plastic and metal would be acceptable, just this once. As a nod to freerangosity, we got into the playground by climbing the fence which the kids loved and was kind of funny as we were all geared up like we were about to climb a very wet mountain and the normal children already there left a space around our troop as they advanced. Even the grumpy teenagers by the river looked wary of them. CaveCousinEtte had completely forgotten how much of a fashion faux pas she was committing in the Lidl dunagrees though and swung out of play structures, oblivious.
After a few circuits of the playground, I walked them back to the pub carpark to the (yay!) unclamped car. The by now very tired little CaveKids were more than happy to pile on home and sit down to the lovely slow cooker casserole that was waiting for us. After dinner, the kids drew pictures on pumpkins, CaveHusband carved out their designs and I artfully arranged my gathered leaves and pine cones beside the lanterns, dreamily imagining myself as some kind of paleo Martha Stewart.
And then it was bedtime and, in true caveman style, we threw the lot of them in one bed. For the warmth that was in it you see.
Happy belated Halloween from the Cave.