This morning was an unexpected one. To be perfectly honest, having had my work clinic cancelled due to too few patients, I had kind of scheduled in a hiding-under-the-duvet-day.
But yesterday you threw up at nursery. Just a little but you were pale enough to worry them enough to send you home. I was in Bristol, sorry darling, but Daddy came to get you. And, thankfully, although today you are completely fine you are on the dreaded 48 hour nursery ban.
So now, today, it is just me and you.
I love this time. It is only since your brother started school this year that we have ever really had anytime alone together, and our little morning walk is my favourite part.
First we have to get your brother to school. I know how much you hate being constrained in your buggy but I really feel like I don’t have enough hands, and the roads are just too busy, to let you walk too. It is hard enough trying to keep W on the inside of the pavement away from the road because clearly, when I am out with either of you, every driver is bound to be drunk, drugged, blind or any combination of which making them likely to mount the kerb at anytime and wipe you out. At least they would then have to get through me first.
You generally moan quite a lot. You want your hood up. No down. No up. But as we approach school you begin to cheer up. Freedom is approaching and you can smell it.
We get to the playground and there it is. I release you from your buggy-jail. You race across the gravel to the steps and invariably reach the classroom before your brother. We will have no problems getting you to start school. You want to be there already.
We give W a cuddle, say goodbye, and then our walk begins.
First you have to jump across the painted feet in the playground. Then you lean into the wind, feeling it’s cold breath upon your face. You pause. Then you run for the gate.
You stop, you turn, you give me a grin and then you come and walk with me and hold the side of the buggy. You know the drill.
And then we pass your tree.
“When I’m bigger I climb this tree. I do it myself. I not fall down.”
You are obsessed with this one particular tree. And I believe you. One day you WILL climb it. You are one of the most strong-willed people I have ever met. That tree doesn’t stand a chance.
As we approach the crossing of course, “I can press the button?”
I grip your wrist whilst trying not to let the pram career into oncoming traffic, and you stretch and reach so hard with your one free arm until you press the button. You can JUST do it now. It delights you. You grin.
“So now we wait for the green man darling, then we can cross. What colour is this man?”
Our road crossing skills clearly need some more work. It’s not your fault. You are ridiculously bright I simply forgot to teach you your colours and only realised this recently. Your brother had my full attention as a baby as he was my only one. We spent hours learning colours, new words, shapes etc. You had none of this really. I kind of forgot. I’m sorry. Most of what you have learnt has been from W, and he is a great teacher.
We’re working on the colours.
As we head down past Dyrons the dance begins. You now know you have to stay on the inside, but that’s not going to stop this being a game.
You stop. You stand completely still, legs firmly apart like a little mini sumo wrestler ready to engage. You look up at me with a false frown.
“Are you coming?”
You frown, then you grin, then you skip along a bit. And then we do it again. And again. Down the road.
We have to hold hands for the ‘hidden road’, God I hate that lane from nowhere, and then today the game changed. I found a little plastic yellow bug in my pocket. I have literally no clue where it came from, looks like something out of a cracker, but I hand it to you.
“Bug!” you grin. “For me?”
“Yes. What shall we call him?”
You have always been quite literal with your toy naming. Your most treasured possession is ‘big bunny’, easily distinguished from ‘little bunny’ and ‘pink bunny’ for obvious reasons. It means our walk takes a bit longer today as you want to ‘help’ little bug climb every wall. Every. Single. Wall.
When we eventually approach the bottom of Highweek road you look at the bush and point and laugh.
“They’re not blueberries. They’re orange.”
For some reason you never fail to find this completely hilarious. I’m just happy we got a colour right and, for the millionth time, tell myself I must find out what these, indeed orange, berries actually are.
We do the ‘press the button’, ‘grab your wrist’, ‘aim not to lose the buggy’ thing and eventually make it to the other side not having been run over.
Now the fun really begins. There are railings so I can let you go. There are also a whole load of raised stones in the pavement ripe for climbing. You have to. The first time you did this my heart was quite literally in my mouth, convinced we would end up in A & E, you with a lacerated scalp and me having to explain to your Dad how it happened. Now I watch with marginally less fear. You have not fallen yet.
As we round the corner towards Asda the first thought in my head is inevitably ‘Good luck birds’.
You spot the pigeons.
“I can touch one?”
I have to say yes because it is just too funny.
You race after them “Hello boyd, hello boyd”. You have not managed to catch one yet. You look at me puzzled, “Boyd flew away?”
You got pretty close with a seagull once, which you were convinced was a duck. You “wack-wack”-ed your way up to him until you were really very close. But he flew away too. I’m sorry darling.
We have Asda down to a fine art now. You know that if you don’t run off or touch too much you will be able to persuade me into buying a pack of sausage rolls. Many of which you will consume on our way round the store. This is a habit you can blame entirely on your Dad. The look of confusion on the check-out assistant’s face as they scan his empty pork pie wrapper never fails to make me smile.
Today there is extra excitement as there is a Christmas aisle and you spot it straight away. Even better there are, thankfully plastic, elves taller than you and you pull the nose of each and every one, laughing hysterically as you go.
We grab our few bits and head for the tills. Normally this is the one by the toy-truck, deliberately planted to squeeze that little bit more cash out of desperate parents, but today there is a cardboard coca-cola truck so we opt for the checkout by that. You drive the truck while I load the bags. Then we still have to sit in the regular old truck too. I still won’t put any money in, mean Mummy, but I don’t need to. You are quite happy sat there steering away.
I eventually persuade you away from the truck, more sausage rolls involved here, and out of the store and we make our way towards the cinema. Today this is more fun than normal. There are puddles. You find a few little ones outside the Jolly Farmer and we spend a good few minutes jumping in those.
I eventually lure you away with the promise of more, and bigger, puddles.
We head for the market square.
I love this bit, especially today as there are no stalls so I have clear visibility, there is nowhere you can hide, and there are no cars. I can let you run. And run you do. And find the biggest puddles ever. You splash and splash until your tights are sodden.
“Are your tights alright Em?”
You lift up your skirt and jump.
One poor elderly couple sat having a coffee I fear will laugh themselves into an early grave.
We’re really not in a hurry so we continue with the puddle jumping in the market square for quite a while.
Eventually I lure you away, again with the promise of more puddles, but this time I’m lying and you don’t know I am. A part of me feels terrible doing this but the rain is getting heavier and we really need to get a cab to take us home.
Luckily there are plenty at the rank and we head off. You chat, INCESSANTLY, on my lap all the way home. The driver keeps grinning at me in his mirror. It is non-stop. Your parting words to him today were. “Thank you. This is my house. I want to be a cat.”
“You can be whatever you want to be darling.”
And you will be.
Did I mention you are strong-willed?
Though perhaps not an actual cat.
We have lunch and you are now asleep and here I am typing this.
I just wanted to get it down.
Our little walk, our little dance. I know you are so young that you will probably never have any recollection of it but I hope that maybe, one day, reading this, it might just spark a memory.
A memory of the little dance we do together, and how very, very much I love doing it. And how very, very much I love you.
And I cannot wait to see you climb that tree.