Scheming, in the Donegal dictionary, can also mean to intentionally avoid going to school.
Playing truant, mitching, scheming…take your pick.
Last Monday. I schemed school.
Well, technically, Mini-Me schemed school.
But honestly Teacher, it was my idea.
I didn’t even have to open the curtains at 7am to know that the sun was splitting the rocks in that wonderful way that suggests that today was going to be a scorcher. It may only be March, but the little weather-predicting farmer in me, just knew that it was going to be fantastic.
I looked at the clock. I looked at the clothes I’d laid out for her the previous night. I looked at the blue sky and I knew before I’d even allowed the thought to articulate in my mind, that the blue sky was the only one of the these things that mattered.
My girl was not going to school today. She was going to scheme. With me.
We were going on an adventure.
I let her dress herself in whatever the heck she liked. She chose her favourite dress-up dress; lilac and sparkly and hideously ‘Little Miss’ Pageanty, blue leggings, her gold glittery welly-boots and a multi-coloured hand-knit cardigan that we usually keep for shopping trips.
She added the final touch…a huge pink flower headband and Peppa Pig hat..and announced “Now, I’m perfect!”
And she was indeed perfect.
We wrapped the Princess into her pram, sloshed on some suncream and packed a “picmic” of apple juice and Gingernut biscuits.
And off we went on our adventure.
We’re blessed to live in the absolute sticks… I mean, if you’re looking for our house, you must first find the “back arse of nowhere” and take the third left. We’re on top of that hill past the house with the fancy stonework. If you start going down hill again, you’ve gone too far.
Sally SatNav would need three bottles of wine to find us.
It’s Heavenly. We live on the family farm, a full field away from where I grew up. So today, I decided it was about time I took my girls on a trip through my childhood haunts.
We wandered only a mile down the road and back, but we went so much further than that.
We went back to the 1980’s.
Mini-Me saw the tree in the hedgerow that Mammy used to climb with my best friend Roald Dahl, which no longer has the full covering of foliage that used to hide me from my sister and brother. (A Neighbour broke my heart when I was 14 by getting too happy with the hedge cutter. It was never the same and my hidden reading den was destroyed. For the record, I haven’t forgiven him yet. I’m looking at you Mr. Bellybutton.)
We stood in the deep mud at the gate to the potato field where we used to spend a fortnight “scheming” each Harvest. (“Slave labour” some might say, but what memories we have. I swear that there is no better taste than jam and clay sandwiches with tea in a plastic flask cup.)
We looked at the fields where we used to tie the long grass together and run through it, playing ‘Trippies’.
We found a magic stream… a newly dug drain, but humongously exciting. it required the immediate throwing in of twigs.
I showed her the gate the the Fairy Kingdom which lies at the border between Dad’s farm and the next. The old gate has been lying in that spot, above a busy babbling stream, for over 30 years. It’s rusted, ruined and utterly convincing as an enchanted gate. It only opens for Fairies in the moonlight…of course.
We saw the enchanted tree in the middle of the neighbour’s field. That’s where Pixie Hollow is…obviously.
We saw the “Jungles”; the messy, overgrown batch of whin bushes where my siblings and cousins and I had the most spectacular adventures as children.
And to top it off, as we munched our bickies and drank our juice, Mini-me realised that we were surrounded by glimmering fairies! (Midges…but hey!)
Oh the excitement.
When we returned home, she was buzzing from the fresh air and the fun. I was buzzing from the nostalgia and from the realisation that while it may not be quite as safe as it was when we were children, my girls will have the same opportunities for imagination and explorations as I did.
They’ll play in fields. They’ll get wellies stuck in mud. They’ll have adventures in jungles of whin bushes and they’ll hide up trees with their favourite books.
And where my Mum used to sound the car horn as our signal to haul our behinds back to reality for bedtime, I’ll probably just text them to come home. Because times have changed.
But what hasn’t changed is the fact that sometimes, you have to simply turn away from routine and convention and go have fun.
And you can’t measure, grade or assess how much a child can learn from simply going on a walk outside with Mum or Dad.
So for one day only, I was Scheme in the Sunshine Mum. (and it was awesome!) 🙂
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