I have been thinking a little bit today about how different our lives will look like in the next few years. This was mainly triggered by thinking about our government and education, and how, as a teacher and a mother, I have a vested interest in what education looks like. Yet, in this stage of life where my firstborn daughter is only eighteen months old, I am inclined to bury my head in the sand. There is so much about the way our country does education that deeply saddens me, and the prospect of Ruby and any other children we might be blessed with, getting to school age and facing all that education involves, is something I am not ready for. I share this at the start of this post about what our afternoon routine is like because I feel a real gratitude for these early years that I get to spend with my daughter, and for the slowness that I can allow to shape our afternoons.
It is early Summer here in England, and I love that it is warm enough to leave the back door open so that Ruby can go in and out of the house and garden as she pleases. Our afternoon's are punctuated by reading, cooking and tending to our tiny garden. On days when the sun is shining, the front of house is filled with golden light in the afternoon. Around 3pm, we gather up a pile of books, get comfortable on the sofa with the sun spilling over us, and read together. Ruby has started this routine of pointing up to our bookshelves, earnest and insistent that there is something that she wants to look at, but needs my help to do so. She then attempts to climb up the shelves, ever hopeful that she might just be able to reach what is out of her grasp. I lift her up and together we go through the books on that shelf to find the one that she has her eye on. Again and again, she says, 'no, no, no', shaking her head. I am so intrigued by this new routine of hers - she is normally so certain and decisive about which books she would like us to read together. I am beginning to think she just likes the process of climbing and being lifted up and watching me sort through the books.
Our reading time usually comes to end in one of two ways. Either Ruby climbs off my lap to go and find something else to do, or the oven alarm sounds, reminding me to check on whatever I am cooking. Today, it was granola. I often find the time between 4 and 5.30pm the hardest part of the day. Ruby and I are both getting tired and I am often wracking my brains for what to prepare for her dinner. I particularly love the days when there are leftovers in the fridge so that I don't have to think of something new to cook. (I bake because I love it; I cook because I have to. If only cake was a suitable dinner.) So in this hour and a half lack lustre period, I tend to procrastinate by going for a walk with Ruby, or tidying up - anything that avoids actually cooking. When it comes to preparing dinner, Ruby sometimes joins me to help prepare the food, using her crinkle cutter to chop vegetables. She loves to play at the kitchen sink too, and this tends to happen when I am cooking dinner. It provides the perfect distraction for her, as well as an opportunity to wash her hands while I finish off preparing her food. We sit down to eat between 5.30pm and 6pm. By this point, both of us are excitedly anticipating John's arrival home. Ruby periodically stops eating to look out of the window, saying, 'Dada?' in the hope that he is arriving home for the evening.