Partner and I were trying to decide where to go on Bank Holiday Monday. A whole day off is quite a treat, so it always requires very careful consideration and deliberation and umming and aaahing and still by Sunday night, getting nowhere. We needed to know how many of our kids were joining us and the conversation went something like this:
Ok, can you all come downstairs please! (Shouting)
Come downstairs! (Yelled)
Oh ffs (muttered) Downstairs now! (Screeched)
So already Bank Holiday Monday has turned into even more of a stress.
Who wants to come out with us tomorrow?
Where are you going?
We’re not sure yet.
I can’t, chirps daughter 4. I’m going to Dorset with Dad for the week.
Blimey, I mutter, thanks for the heads up.
Let’s go to London! Brighton! Bluewater!
(Three teenagers seem to be available at this point)
Well, we’re thinking possibly Rye.
Is there a New Look in Rye?
No. There’s a Boots.
I can’t come, I need to revise.
(Two down, two possibles).
Will you buy lunch?
So off two teens, partner and I went to Rye. Now, those of you with toddlers will be familiar with the phrase, ‘are we nearly there yet?’, chorused at regular intervals. Well, if I told you that you’ve still got a good 14 years of that ahead of you, you might want to drown yourself in alcohol, or find a cave to curl up and cry in – or perhaps both. Ok, it wasn’t two minutes into the journey – that record is held by daughter 2 on an 8 hour road trip to Scotland. No, it was about 20 minutes in – daughter 1 and 25 minutes in – daughter 3.
We arrive and daughter 1 is on the look out for shops. She spies a sign for: Rope Tree Walk: A Shopping Arcade. It’s like a mini Bluewater, partner jokes with her…and she’s off, like a rabbit out the trap. Followed by the biggest letdown since Father Christmas had too much whisky one year and woke her up by falling over her dolls’ house.
Ultimately, we all had a good time and as I dodged parents with buggies and double buggies around the narrow, quaint streets, I thought about how my life once was and how it now is.
Waiting outside the fish and chip shop for daughter 3’s chips to be double fried, there was a toddler next to me, refusing to get into his buggy. His parents had run out of options. He was sprawled on the pavement, meaning others had to walk in the road and he was hollering! My heart ached for the mum and dad and I wanted to say something to them. Just a quick comment to let them know that I had been there and that I knew how embarrassed and exasperated and exhausted they were probably feeling right now. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing – that comment that then gets repeated at soft play the following day to all the other mums. I looked at daughter 1 for inspiration and remembered her sprawled on pavements, on kitchen floors, in parks and in supermarkets and I turned to the parents and said: take a photo and then, when they are her age (pointing to my 16 year old), you can embarrass him. The mum smiled and I felt that I had said the right thing. A small dog then passed by the toddler, who was now sitting on the pavement and for some reason I added: I hope that dog doesn’t piss on him! I turned back to my daughters and smiled at them – it didn’t seem that long ago…and they were both shaking their heads in complete and utter embarrassment. What did I say?
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