Pleasure and pain

I saw dolphins bodysurfing yesterday. I called to Husband and the Sprogs and we gathered to watch them frolic on the waves. I saw bluebottles too, scattered on the water’s edge. I kicked sand over them, hoping the Sprogs wouldn’t notice. Sprog 2 is terrified of bluebottles. One wrapped around her thigh in January and she screamed for hours. She still refuses to go in the water, preferring to build sandcastles on the shore. Husband took Sprog 1 swimming, despite my anxiety about the bluebottles. He thought I was over-reacting, that the odds were against both Sprogs being stung in the same year. But I was worried – if he was wrong, it would be the end of our family beach expeditions for good. And I love taking the Sprogs to the ocean. It’s so beautiful and peaceful, when a Sprog isn’t in agony. Sprog 2 still had a blast, despite not setting foot in the water. She loved running away from the waves and kept urging me to join her. “Let’s run away from them together! Come on Mummy  it’s fun!” And I wanted to do it, I really did. But my childlike enthusiasm for life has been withered by age. I just can’t seem to relax into play. Can’t or won’t? Now there’s a question for my therapist. I used to be the queen of imaginative play when I was a kid. School holidays were spent in a fantasy world of shops and cafes created in my grandparents’ garage, I’d fashion aeroplanes and cars from my grandmother’s washing trolley, I’d make my sister to reinact Logan’s Run scenes with me, wearing my mother’s old, cut-off dresses. Where did all that creativity go? Why can’t I get down on the floor and lose myself in play with my kids? I can cook with them, I can build sandcastles for them, I can play board games with them. But anything beyond the purely practical eludes me. Husband spends ages conducting imaginary (and highly repetitive) mobile phone calls with Sprog 2. She loves it. But, when he hands the imaginary phone to me, I get about one sentence in and … well, I’m lost for words. Is there anything, other than mind-altering drugs, that can unlock inner silliness at age 43? I wish.

TONIGHT’S MENU: Sprog 1’s favourite dinner, Roast Tomato Soup (a dumbed down Gordon Ramsey classic). Here’s the recipe …

4 tablespoons olive oil, 1kg roma tomatoes, halved; 2 garlic cloves, halved; 1 onion, sliced; small handful of thyme sprigs; 1 teaspoon caster sugar; 1 litre chicken stock; 2 semi-dried tomatoes; 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce; sea salt.

Preheat oven to 220C. Toss tomatoes, onion and garlic cloves with olive oil. Sprinkle with thyme sprigs, sugar and salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes until caramelised. Tip into a stock pot, removing woody stalks of thyme. Add chicken stock, semi-dried tomatoes and barbecue sauce. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Use a stick blender to puree the mixture. Reheat if necessary. Serve with a fresh cob of bread and butter.

5 thoughts on “Pleasure and pain

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  1. I’m feeling the same way. I took the kids to the park yesterday, They had scooter races and played on the equipment while I sat under a tree with a magazine (or 2). We did come home and make paper aeroplanes which they creatively flew out of the trees and off the verandahs as well as down the hallway.
    In our teen years we all become uptight about play. It’s no longer cool to be imaginiative unless you are good at it (arty). Then we hit the workforce where most of us have our creativity crushed even further (try nursing).
    Maybe we need a good pillow fight to loosen up!

  2. I have the same thing. I rarely, get down on the floor. I have to have all the housework and work chores under control or be in a especially relaxed mood.
    I wonder if it was because one or both our parents modelled a practical form of love. My Mother rarely got into game mode and even now doesn’t really get into play mode with the Grandkids. My dad on the other hand can get very silly and has always enjoyed an imaginative game.

  3. I also think that the stress of responsibility is distracting. Yes, you had a lovely time at the beach but you were also the one nervously looking out for Bluebottles! (I too miss those times were I’d spend the day sitting in a carboard box outfitted as a submarine – looking out my round blue cellophane covered portholes convinced the neighbourhood was under water …)

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