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On Saturday we were invited by a friend to join her family’s olive harvest. I was giddy about the idea of combing trees for the day but, as always, I was terrified that Alfie might do something that would mean I might never be able to speak to my friend again.

This is the boy who floored a toddler at a birthday party and got me bawled out in front of a room full of parents. It might be two years ago but that kind of experience stays with you like the nightmare where you turn up to school naked.

Then there was the time we went for a walk with the local home-schooling group and he managed to poke a boy in the eye with a stick and hit him in the head with a rock. Oh, and by the way, we’re in the middle of nowhere and the boy’s parents are the ones who know the way back to the car park. Yeah, that wasn't awkward at all.

Toe curling moments like those mean that each time we go out in public my brain is consumed with begging Alfie not to have a brain fart.

It’s frickin exhausting.

All through Saturday I waited for the carnage to start, for the meal to be ruined, for the ornaments to be smashed, for the olives to be scattered; but those moments never came. 

In fact, Alfie nailed it. 

He was funny, loveable, helpful and generally all the things I see when there’s nobody else around.

Olive picking the Wairarapa

I was convinced we had dodged a bullet, and that Sunday's birthday party was going to turn into a complete car crash. 

The universe loves balance after all.

The party was held at a soft play area; a shiny, brightly coloured, sugar fuelled, indoor hell and it was scheduled for The Afternoon. In our house that’s the period of time between lunch and bedtime where all three children run on empty while not napping.

All through the party I steeled myself for the sound of birthday boy losing teeth, or parent threatening a restraining order but once again those moments never came. 

As we relaxed on the sofa that evening I looked down at my boy curled up in my arms and finally saw what Keith has been telling me for the longest time: Alfie has grown up and changed.

I’d been holding on to my fear of public humiliation for so long I’d become Chicken Licken while the family had moved on without me.

Which is why when Alfie looked up at me and asked if his friend could come for a play date, the scream inside my head was only barely audible.


  1. You know, I imagine it must be so much easier to be the parent of the screaming kid with the bruised arm instead of the one of the kid holding the nerf gun. High horses must be fun to ride. I imagine. Sigh. (they do grow up)

    1. And best of all, you can torture them with all the stories in later life. I have absolutely no experience of high horse riding but I'll join you on disarming duties any day.

  2. Ha! I am so glad there was no car crash. And no restraining orders issued is always a good day :)

    1. I cherish every day without restraining orders being issued :D Do any of your boys play especially hard? I know it's fairly normal boy behaviour but it seems to be becoming taboo to have any kind of rowdy play.


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