toysIf you have small children then you probably know that there are a few brief years in your life when the lounge floor becomes a bright, noisy minefield.

When my first son was born he was bought many toys by his loving grandparents and other family and friends. These toys were spread out on the wooden floor day after day. The train would regularly make a journey around the table legs, the Duplo would often wait patiently to imbed itself into a visitor’s bare foot and, as my dad once commented, everything, but everything in the room played a tune. These toys would be packed back into their huge, red, plastic boxes at night but within minutes of rising, our lad had upended the boxes and spread his goodies about the floor again. As he grew to almost three years of age along came our second son and all the baby toys were back out again, joining the various action figures, with poseable bodies, with which our first born now enjoyed playing.

I often gazed at the small patches of wooden floor I could just about make out and wondered when, if ever, our lounge floor would once again belong to us.

But then, in the blink of an eye, the toys began to change. They were no longer baby toys, they no longer played nursery rhymes and they were beginning to spend more and more time resting in their red plastic home.

Fast forward to now – a teenager and an ‘almost teenager’ reside in our home. We only have a few toys in a red plastic box which is much reduced in size. This elite selection is kept for visits from other people’s small children. Our own children no longer gaze with wonderment at the toy section of the Argos catalogue or call me in from the kitchen to admire the adverts on children’s TV. For them it’s all about Facebook, tablets, Xbox, scootering and mates. I’m not saying that the lounge floor is exactly clear now, cleaning not being my forte, but there are no more dangerous mines and no more colourful characters calling out as they are accidently trodden on.

And, do you know what? It won’t surprise you to discover that it breaks my heart. Where did those years go? How did this happen? My youngest son has begun attending high school and whilst I’m incredibly excited for him to have moved on to this new experience I’m struck by the thought that I will never again stand in a school playground waiting to be identified by a teacher and watch the beautiful lithe body of one of our boys hurl itself towards me with a cry of, “Mummy!”

To those of you who are still in that brief, amazing, exhausting time of life when everything revolves around your small children, I will say the words that you’ve heard a million times already – enjoy it, make the most of it, embrace it. It will be gone before you can say, “Ouch, Buzz Lightyear if I stub my toe on you one more bleeding time, you’re going in the bin!”

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