Dad and the boys have a number of after school traditions and I thought it was time to share some of them. My "Mr. Mom" day really starts with the after school pickup. Prior to that, Ryan is napping, the flat is very quiet and Dad is trying to get things done. At 3PM it’s time to wake Ryan up to accompany me to pick up Kevin at school. Ryan usually oscillates between two different wake up modes; the first is happy Ryan and he pops up out of his crib and says "go get Kevin?", the second is grumpy Ryan when he would rather keep napping. He just lies there and moans "NO KEVIN TODAY!" I try to convince him on the grumpy days that he really doesn’t have any choice, I can’t leave him home alone!
So we eventually get ourselves out the door, armed with plenty of snacks, drinks, books, stuffed animals, etc…
Pick up itself is chaos. The sidewalk is blocked, there is a narrow stairway where parents, children and strollers are all crammed into the waiting area. I push my way through with Ryan. Sometimes he is super happy and ready to wave to all the teachers….other times I drag him kicking and screaming to pick up his brother. One constant in all the school pickups; as soon as Kevin sees me he doesn’t say "Hi Dad, it’s great to see you!" or "Hi Dad, I had a great day at school". Everyday, it’s the same thing; "Hi Dad…did you bring any snacks?" Evidently we don’t put enough food in his lunchbox.
So after we get back to the stroller we set off on our after school adventures. This summer we spent over an hour getting home. Now that the weather has turned cold and rainy, not to mention it’s almost dark by the time we pick Kevin up….we head straight home.
During the warmer months, here are some of our traditions.
Secret Technology of Life
After leaving school armed with snacks in the double jogger, we head up the hill from school to a park at the top of the hill above Hampstead. Early in the school year, Kevin announced that in this park you could find "The Secret Technology of Life". Ever since then we have been going to the "Secret Technology of Life" park climbing trees and looking for all the secrets.
On the walk from the “Secret Technology of Life Park” to the Judges Walk we pass the Admirals House. Lieutenant Fountain North lived here in 1791 he used to fire a cannon from its roof to celebrate royal birthdays. Later P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins lived in the house. The house served as the inspiration for the Mary Poppins character Admiral Boom. I always tell the boys about how the Lieutenant who lived there use to fire his cannon from the roof and they try spotting the cannon.
The cornerstone of our after school walk home is the Judges Walk. The name of this area comes from when the Judges of London escaped from central London during the plague and came to Hampstead to hold court for several years. Every morning they would walk through this field to a local pub to hold court.
I’m not sure how the tradition started, but everyday in the summer we start at the top of the Judges walk and Kevin commands "Dad, go down super-fast". Ryan chimes in "medium" …and I always compromise with "medium fast". We countdown "3, 2, 1, blast-off!" and then set off down the single track trail in our double bob. The boys thought it was like a rollercoaster ride. Inevitably, after it was all over, Ryan would command; "Do it again!!" Here is a little clip of the Judge’s walk rollercoaster ride:
The Fence Walk
After Dad has exerted himself by running down the Judges Walk we make our way past the zip line playground and then before we can go home we have to get out of the jogger and walk the fence line along a house on Reddington Gardens.
All along our path home, we do a lot of collecting. Its always for Mom…."Let’s take this home to show Mom!" Over the past year we have brought home sticks, rocks, wild flowers, weeds, dirt, chestnuts, and ladybugs (called ladybirds in England). We have quite a collection at home, stop by sometime and check it out! Mom is always excited to see the dandelions and pile of dirt the boys have collected for her!!