Christmas, magical time of the year, they say. And this last Christmas was a really magical one, at times.

We were all at home together for almost 3 weeks–my son Ben, my husband Diego, and I–and that doesn’t happen often. I loved it and I hated it, it was amusing and exasperating, all at the same time.

I love spending time with my family, and I wish Diego could be home every day, instead of working long hours away from us. But when he’s home from work, it’s never a straightforward affair. I don’t know if there is such a thing as “too much time together”, the Christmas break didn’t feel like that, but it was a big adjustment for all three of us and required some extra effort to make this time together run smoothly. It felt like we needed to synchronise our moves, find out which steps were good together and which ones were just pushing us to clash with each other. We eventually found our special family rhythm, although it was a bit like dancing on eggshells.

We realised very soon that anything could trigger Ben’s tantrums, and if not resolved quickly they would escalate in full enraged episodes, mostly directed at me. Diego proposed to implement a strict routine, and so we did: every half an hour was planned ahead first thing in the morning.

Ben became a much happier boy, easier to handle, and after the first few days, planning ahead and following the new regime became second nature. As for myself, deep down, I felt trapped. Every half an hour accounted for! I felt I had to rush through everything as worried I would get too far behind schedule.

I found fascinating how differently our brains works: the schedule made Ben calmer and me anxious! Diego didn’t comment on it but, being his idea, I’m sure he utterly enjoyed it.

And 19 days later life returned to be what it was before the long break: Diego went back at work and Ben at school.

On our first day back at school, it was amazing to see Ben gaining his confidence again. He woke up, showered, got dressed and went off to school with the biggest smile ever. And once back home, although slightly tricky to handle at times, he offered some truly funny moments.

He spent a good hour insisting for us to go to the train station to pick up daddy at work, at 2pm, all the way to London, where according to him he builds bridges. Daddy does work in London, he got that bit right, and to be fair he’s built a number of very good bridges, but being made of Lego™ I don’t think they count.

Then he asked me to take out his luggage. Now, I fully expect that one day he will want to leave home and make a life of his own, and maybe it’s me just being overprotective, but at the age of 3, I don’t think that day has arrived yet. I shouldn’t have worried anyway. The reason he needed his luggage was to go on holiday with Daddy. The two of them were going to see steam trains somewhere (the Island of Sodor?). Then he added, “Mammy, you can stay here at home waiting for us” (Gee, thanks!)

And finally, just to prove once and for all the level of attachment my son and I reached, he once told me “Mummy, you’re a very good fella and you’re my best friend today”. It might have had something to do with his best friend Jack being home sick that day, but it’s still good to know I’m a close second.

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