I had a shocking start to the day earlier this week when I was awoken at 7am to the sight of my youngest at the side of my bed shouting what appeared to be random, unconnected words. ‘Can I help? I want to crack the eggs. I don’t want a purple one, I want a blue one!’
As the haze of sleep slowly evaporated, it dawned on me that it was Shrove Tuesday, or as every child in the country knows it, Pancake Day. Normally a day that elicits mild interest from the younger members of my family, it was all change this year and they had talked of nothing else in the run up.
My older kids had researched recipes, new methods of making different shaped pancakes and had persuaded me to buy food colouring so they could make rainbow versions, hence the colour choice preferences loudly stated by my youngest.
With so little going on in their lives at the moment, no school or clubs, no activities or even opportunities to just hang out with their pals, I’m not surprised that they saw this day as a bit of a beacon for fun, a chance to have a pancake party and liven up the repetitiveness of life in lockdown. We had great fun making them, though not so much attempting the kitchen clear up afterwards, and we even made some discoveries along the way, like the fact that making pancakes blue or multi-coloured doesn’t affect their appeal but making them a light pink does as they resemble big old slabs of skin. Be warned if you’re attempting multi-hued creations!
It got me wondering if there are any other special dates on the calendar that might serve as a distraction for my poor kids. Did you know for instance, that there is a National Opposite Day? Taking that as my lead, I’ve told the kids that one day next week they’ll be wearing pyjamas to go outside and having their breakfast at dinner time (I can’t wait for a big Ulster Fry!).
Another unusual one is Plan Your Holiday Day, which might seem like a hard one to observe, given that we don’t know what rules and regulations we’ll be living with next month never mind by the time summer arrives, but it made me think that if we get a nice, dry day this week we could hold our own mini holiday at home with games in the garden, some pretend palm trees strewn around and dinner outside while sipping non-alcoholic cocktails.
Of all the weird and wonderful celebration days across the year I think my favourite is National Chocolate Cake Day, a day we’ll definitely observe on at least one of the next seven days and we’ll finish on Friday with a nod to National Puzzle Day. I’ll hoke out all the board games and set up a World Cup style playoff chart to see which family member comes out on top.
I know these may seem like silly, daft ideas but quite frankly I’ll try anything to make life just a little bit more fun and exciting for my children in these strange times.
For those of us who grew up here in the 70s and 80s, we know what it was like to have external events encroach on your childhood. Even those who weren’t personally affected by The Troubles grew up listening to the news and had all that negativity permeate their daily lives. I remember what it felt like to be a child and be scared and I hate to think of my own kids feeling the same way.
I know this is a very different experience, in terms of duration if nothing else, but I’m sure our children are experiencing similar, fear-filled emotions, even if they’re not saying so or showing it to the grown-ups around them.
They’re hearing stories on the news and seeing it online, their lives have been turned upside down and they’ve not seen, never mind had a hug from friends or family in months.
Anything I can find to distract my lot is welcome. Though my plans for styling their manes into bouffants after reading about National Great Big Wig Day may prove to be a step too far...