"Perhaps we could have a pool party." Early summer had arrived hot and balmy. The kids were still in school and I wondered aloud about a hypothetical summer holiday activity as we'd actually already got round to filling our mammoth 10 foot paddling pool. As anyone with kids knows, wondering aloud is a dangerous past time, and perhaps is an infuriatingly futile word. "Perhaps we could have a pool party."
There. I'd said it. For my nine-and-a-half-year-old and my nearly-eight-year-old that was as good as set in stone, and what I'd envisaged as a nice play date for them all was rapidly spiralling into a rather more grand and complicated affair. Mental gulp. I began reining them in amid thoughts of how I would - or wouldn't - manage. Although Rizzy at three months is not new anymore, it's still pretty full on given that nearly three-year-old Biscuit is challenging us with some creative attention-seeking behaviour.
I resolved however.
End of term came and the glorious summer weather went. Standing at the beginning of the six week holiday it didn't seem like a problem as we had loads of time. One wet and cold week passed. Then two. There were days and bits of days that felt like summer, and the paddling pool certainly got used. It got used by my loonies when it was only 16 degrees Celsius outside. Friends came and enjoyed it, but it wasn't the designated Pool Party, and there weren't enough friends for it to count. During Week Three Little Feet and Big Grin began to ask when it would be with more urgency. Weeks five and six would be spent away, so it had to happen by the end of Week Four. Every morning Biscuit began to ask, "Is it today?"
The upcoming weather wasn't brilliant, and I forecast bitter disappointment and recriminations. We'd been on plenty of trips here and there and met up with lots of lovely friends, but the lack of this Pool Party was beginning to cast a shadow. Friday evening end of Week Three I began to pray in earnest. By Saturday evening I began to feel a whisper. Wednesday. By Sunday morning I thought I should check out the forecast for the week (again). OK not much to differentiate between Tuesday and Wednesday but "Wednesday. Never mind about the forecast. Wednesday." Really? OK then.
"Girls, we're having the Pool Party on Wednesday. You can invite three friends each." They began listing; I began texting and Facebook messaging. Monday: chilly and dreary. Tuesday: weather improving but still not ideal. We weeded the garden and hit the pound shops. A great deal of the fun in having a party is the preparation. Without that it would have felt like merely having a few friends round. Wednesday: gloriously sunny and about 23 or 24 degrees C.
And what more is there to say? Twelve girls had fun for four hours. ("Are you sure you can cope with them for four hours? You're very brave... Be good for Emma, won't you?") There was the odd moment, the usual divide between the Splashers and the Non-Splashers, but the two-year-olds and the nearly-ten-year-olds and all in between enjoyed themselves. The other mums and grandmas that stayed pitched right in and it just happened. Rizzy obligingly had a nap for the trickiest part, the introductions and settling in, when one or two need suggestions for activities (Sandpit? Fishing game? Er, paddling pool?) and she wasn't too difficult the rest of the time.
The Mister came home from work to find me collapsed on the sofa watching Peppa Pig with Biscuit. "How did it go?"
"Good, thanks. Yeah. They all enjoyed themselves. But I wouldn't want to do it again next week."
The Mister, remembering all the tidying up he'd been involved in: "Yes it's definitely a once-in-the-holidays thing."
"Oh dear don't institute it as an annual event!"
And the forecast for the remaining days before we go away? Wet.