This weekend saw a rare occurrence: we stayed in all day. What made it even rarer was that it was a fine and sunny, if rather chilli, day and none of us were ill. But for some reason we never stepped foot out of the house. We nearly always go out, even when it is pouring with rain we get the boys dressed up in their waterproofs, and they love splashing about. But on this particular day none of us felt the urge to suggest we get some fresh air.
At the time it seemed like a good idea to stay in (good ideas always seem to be just that at the time). The boys were playing nicely and Karen and I were getting things done that we did not expect to, and there was certainly an element of not wanting to upset the apple cart when things seemed to be going so well. We are also very aware that since he started school, Jake needs the weekend to slow down and recuperate a bit, and also become reacquainted with his toys. Sam too was well engrossed in doing some drawing and playing with stickers (the great time eater for young boys).
So we rode our luck. We rode our luck that this calm scene would continue as the afternoon wore on. It was stupid because it did not – it never does – and like frogs sitting in gradually heating water we did not really notice until it was too late that the family dynamic was starting to get a bit, well, interesting. I was certainly getting rather tetchy (although I am sure that I would not have admitted it at the time), as was Jake who was gradually getting more defensive of his toys whenever Sam came anywhere near them.
By now Sam was completely bored of anything that we provided for him by the way of entertainment and so went searching for alternative forms of amusement. Now Sam is at that age where he is finding out that he can actually do and reach things that he had not thought possible before; especially with the help of the plastic step that he has taken to transporting around the house. So first stop was my coffee machine. He managed to switch it on, waited patiently for it to warm up (or maybe just kept pressing the button until it had warmed up), got an espresso cup and produced a perfect espresso. Unfortunately he had put the cup under the milk nozzle, so the espresso went straight into the dregs tray. This was probably a good thing given the circumstances as a 2 year old stuck in the house all day with a double espresso inside him does not bear thinking about. Other experiments he tried included to see how many beakers of water a toilet roll would absorb (one of his many toilet roll tricks) and seeing how far the contents of a blackcurrant fruit shoot drink would travel (part of a more general recent predilection for squeezing things out of things).
Anyway I digress. The upshot was that we realised that we really should have gone out. We should have made the effort to all get our hats, coats, scarves and shoes on and gone down to the playground, or even just round the block for a walk.
The simple act of going out seems to deflate whatever builds up in the house. We all enjoy going out, we like the fresh air and we do things together rather than our own thing inside and, well basically, we all get on much better as there are not the same niggles that happen when we are limited to our own four walls.
So the next time cabin fever strikes I hope that we recognise it before it is too late to do anything about it, or even better just get out and do something. What is the worst that can happen?