Making the most of a new life

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Powerless in Yorkshire I


The other weekend I had the boys to myself while Karen was away. This is a situation which happens often enough as not to phase me, but not often enough as to make it unremarkable; and this time it was four days, the longest that I have had them on my own.

I was not too worried about this because I had got plenty planned out and the sun shined everyday. By the Saturday evening we had had two brilliant days and we got home in the evening tired but happy. Sam was straight into bed and asleep, and Jake wanted to watch a programme before settling down. We had only been back 15 minutes, however, when the power went off. Checking that the houses around us were still lit, I then realised that our lights were still on too (doh!) but that all the sockets were off and, when investigating further, found that I could not get them back on again.

Jake was very understanding about his programme and toddled off to bed, leaving me to wonder what to do next, and what happened next was very unexpected:

I freaked out a bit.

I started to think of things that I could do to rectify the situation, but they all involved using a phone or the internet; both of which were unavailable (and my mobile had no charge). I was freaked because I could not do this research, and I was freaked because I could not at least send Karen a text to tell her what had happened. This was stupid, annoying and irrational; but real nonetheless.

So I decided to wait until morning to sort everything out telling myself that the worst case scenario was that the food in the freezer would spoil. This did not help and after several sleepless hours I remembered that we had a phone charger in the car, so I sneaked out, switched on the ignition and charged my phone – hoping that no one would come along and seize a golden opportunity to steal both car and phone thus rendering the situation immeasurably worse.

Despite the risk I have to say that I felt a lot better with a charged phone, and was then able to look for an electrician to ring in the morning, and could send Karen that text. I started to feel in control again as if somehow the power in my phone gave me power too.

Part of me feels rather embarrassed to admit this episode, but I thought it was worth sharing because it showed me just how used I had become to having technology at my fingertips, how much it gives me the illusion of being in control, and how fragile that can be. I am sure that I would not have been so freaked out if Karen had been around too, or if I did not feel the responsibility of looking after the boys, or if I had not been so focussed on getting home and just relaxing.

I think it is fair to say that I am not the sort of person who usually worries unduly about things, and tend to be quite sanguine about change; but this incident somehow disturbed my equilibrium in a way that many more potentially impactful things would not. I guess I was caught off guard and although balance was restored when the power fully was the next day it still troubles me that such things can happen so easily.

I am sure that everyone has these bizarre irrational moments when we lose perspective and, as in my case with charging the mobile, make potentially bad decisions by taking unnecessary risks. These can be quickly rectified, or they can persist and get worse, even multiply sending us further off balance. I was fortunate that I had the personal resources to regain my equilibrium quite quickly, but can remember times in my life when that would not have been the case and it is striking for me that it was the lack of communication that caused me to freak the most.

So for me the key lesson is the importance of sharing issues and concerns and work through issues with others whether they be friends, family, or professionals such as coaches. It helps us to understand our situation more, and with that awareness comes a greater ability to not only solve problems, but find the sort of balance in our lives that we want.

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Cabin Fever

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?