The house falls quiet for the first time in more than twelve hours, and I let the silence settle over me like a favourite blanket.
I love this time of evening. We call it grown-up time in our house, and the boys seem to accept that it’s simply something that helps to keep their parents sane.
I switch on the kettle, savouring the sound of the water reaching boiling point. The anticipation of a quiet cup of tea to mark this peaceful moment is arguably more delicious than the tea itself.
A month or two ago it got dark at four o’clock but tonight I strolled along the beach at half past five and it was daylight still. It might be February but spring comes early in these parts, and my soul just knows that it’s already here. You can even taste it – I breathe in deep lungfuls of salty sea air and it fills me up with hope – the perfect but intangible distillation of what Spring really is.
This Spring I plan to laugh a lot. I’ll breathe in hope and exhale humour. I don’t laugh enough and today I caught myself in full-on Victor Meldrew mode. Lighten up, I told myself, un-furrowing my brow as I realised that frowning makes the world seem a much darker place. Laughing makes it lighter.
Yesterday marked a milestone in our family, and the alchemy of the moment was more magical than first steps or words. We laughed together, but it was our first proper family in-joke, consisting of a genuine misunderstanding which led to a little micky-taking and ended with us cracking up together. Now any one of us needs only to say ‘bacon chocolate cake’ and no-one can help but laugh.
I love the natural capacity kids have for humour. From slapstick-style falling over to witty repartee my lads have got comedy covered, but I’m so often too distracted / busy / stupid to see the funny side.
And yet teaching a kid to prioritise laughter is such a gift. The funniest people I know seem to be the most resilient, too. I aspire to be more like that, and to encourage that emerging trait in my kids.
There’s often so much confrontation in our household – so much more than I had expected there to be. If we’re not issuing ultimatums, cajoling, or demanding then we’re enforcing time outs, removing privileges and doling out lectures. It gets so dull, and it’s so much more fun to laugh together.
It’s time we did that so much more.