Ian and I have recently had time to sit down together, enjoy an entire cup of (hot) coffee and talk to each other without interruption. This is weird. Very weird. This is an event that has not occurred for just over 7 years! Further evidence of our world having changed dramatically is that we each managed to read a book over Anniversary Weekend.

In the last week we have both been moved to comment that parenting seems to be getting easier (this is said with some trepidation, as we are a bit nervous that we may be in the eye of the storm!!)

In retrospect, our problems are entirely of our own making – we were crazy enough to breed three children in the space of 3 years. In fact, we broke this barrier with a month to spare, and only narrowly escaped having 3 children in nappies at the same time, with Abby miraculously toilet training at 2 and 3/4s!

Exhaustion and busy-ness have therefore been an integral part of our lives since then. Our eldest, Abby, has recently turned 7, Liam is nearly 6 and Sam has recently turned 4. They have all been sprouting like mushrooms over summer, and currently seem to consist mainly of ribs and legs (I’m sad to say that we have now seen the last of that delightful “squishy” phase of puppy fat that is so adorable in babies and toddlers).

The other change we’ve noticed is that the kids have suddenly become a lot more adventurous. About 4 years ago we bought a 2-acre lifestyle block so that the children would have lots of room for outdoor play. However, up until this summer the only person playing outside has been Ian on the ride-on mower! I’m now happy to report that we have our kids (and the neighbours’ kids) rampaging all over the property.

In part the kids’ activities were hindered by our old driveway; until a few months ago we had gravel, stones, and cascading rivers! We now have a lovely tarmac driveway, and as a result the kids have suddenly developed confidence on their bikes. We’re embarrassed to say that due to a lack of riding opportunities, all of our children were still on trainer wheels until just after Christmas. Nanny and Granddad Burridge came to stay, and within one day had got Abby and Liam onto two wheels. Sam the Man was desperate to copy his older siblings, and unbeknownst to us, got Abby and Liam to teach him how to ride Liam’s bike. We were then invited outside (with great secrecy and giggling) to see a “Show” – we were absolutely blown away to see our little 4 year old calmly riding around on 2 wheels as if he had been doing it for months!

As the children are getting older we are finding it hugely enjoyable to see their vocabularies expanding, and levels of comprehension increasing. A fun part of this has been a giant leap forward in joke telling. At the moment Sam the Man epitomises the joke-telling standards of the last few years:

Sam: Knock knock.

Mum: Who’s there?

Sam: It’s me, mum!!! (big smile)

Sam: Knock knock.

Mum: Who’s there?

Sam: ummmm (scratching head) – what am I s’posed to say again?

And of course, the all-time favourite, “What time is it when an elephant sits on your house?” – “Time to get a new house!”

Other than that, small children and jokes are a funny combination (excuse the pun). They usually have difficulty remembering the joke or give you a punch line which they think is hilarious but makes no sense at all!

So it is with great pleasure that I can report that Liam (our “Mighty Middle” child) recently told us a brilliant joke that was actually funny!

Q    “What’s black and white and black and white and black and white?”

A    “A penguin rolling down hill!”

It’s a shame that the long, hazy days of the summer holidays are about to end and time for playing and joke telling will be severely curtailed. We’re dusting off the school bags and reading through the checklists in the Back to School section to make sure we are ready for the new school year.

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Kerry Burridge is mum to three great kids and was Kiwi Families founding Editor.

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