When we first moved to our current house, one corner of the garden was full of the most enormous Pampas grass. Now you know the urban myth about Pampas Grass don't you? I have no idea if the couple who lived here before us were swingers or not, but if the size of the clump was anything to go by, we were advertising a wild social time in our village!
Who knows what might have been, but sharp leaves of Pampas grass and then-toddler Mark, didn't mix, so we dug it out. And then discovered that the far corner of the garden was rather shaded and boggy and not much else wanted to grow there, so we got a playhouse instead.
And for the next dozen or so years, it served us well. A destination in our own garden, for when indoors was getting a little oppressive. A place to store trucks and sand toys and water pistols and as they grew, rugby balls and cricket stumps, rebounding nets and badminton racquets. All the outdoor paraphernalia of boyhood.
But out of all of us, I think it might have been me who loved it in there the best. When they were little, I would perch on my tiny chair with a cup of tea and watch them become immersed in some elaborate game or other - content to have me nearby without needing anything more than my vague presence. The playhouse gave me headspace, because there wasn't a pile of ironing in my peripheral vision, or a floor badly in need of a hoover distracting me from watching them go about their business.
And dang, if it wasn't the most photogenic of backdrops.
So much so, that in the last few years, it morphed into a cousin-filled growth chart of sorts.
But as those children have grown taller (not to mention more pesky to photograph), so time has taken it's toll on the wood of the house and this Easter, with the gap in the roof growing larger and none of the perspex windows left intact, we decided it was time to let it go. Bittersweet, for sure.
I know those small child days are long and exhausting, but sometimes I think it was easier to be a good parent then. The years when you just needed to be around a lot and not be too busy doing other things. When it was enough to hang out, drink your tea and watch them play. Teenager-dom, with the incessant pushing against boundaries and self absorption is proving far trickier. Small people also go to bed at 7.30pm. Need I say more.
Though of course, there are still lighter moments of parenting older children. My neighbour asked me, somewhat aghast, if I had let the boys loose outside with an axe. Nooooo, I scoffed, of course not. It was a sledgehammer.
And my mum-cred did briefly raise a notch or two when I taught them the right way to swing one.
In fact, a spot of demolition probably helped no end in the quest to dissipate a bit of the testosterone flowing round these parts. And that's always a good thing, I think.
Now I wonder if anything other than Pampas Grass can be persuaded to colonise the corner. Or do I just install a mum-shed?