Rewind

The start of September and it seems there are two types of parent: those who can’t wait for their kids to go back to school and those mourning the loss of the summer holidays. 

I can understand the first group of parents completely. Maybe it’s the hell of juggling work with childcare. Holiday schemes are expensive; holiday entitlement doesn’t equate to the amount of time the kids have off school; family generosity only runs so far; and it’s a rare employer who’ll let you stash the kids in the bottom drawer of the filing cupboard. It’s not an easy juggle. Or there are the challenges of having a brood around 24/7: the whines of boredom or cries of sibling disharmony; the perpetual requests for chaperoning/food/cash. It’s not hard to simultaneously begrudge teachers their six weeks holiday and consider it as the least they deserve for putting up with 30 needy/whingy bundles of perpetual motion/complete slothfulness each day.

But then I get where the second group is coming from too. We’ve been lucky to have a beautiful summer for once. When the sun’s shining and no one’s crying/sulking on a family day out. Ok, maybe the bliss only lasted for five minutes, but Instagram is there so that even if the days have had blips, all evidence will suggest that you’re living life in an Enid Blyton world (where Fanny and Dick are nothing more than names, rather than insults hissed between siblings in the back of the car).

  
And thus the world seems like a beautiful place. School feels like a cruel prison of thought control – let’s home school and let them learn via the resources of the National Trust!

But actually, there’s a third group of parents: those wondering where the hell August went!

Back in July the holidays loomed large. A familiar dread: what on earth are we going to do with the kids for 6 weeks? So how can we be here so soon?!

Week 1: Ticking off the to-do list

  

It’s vitally important not to let the kids atrophy in a summer of pyjama days and iPads. We will venture forth an expand their minds so that they return to school with abstract knowledge of medieval fortresses and scientific endeavour!

  
Week 2: Holy Joe, where did all of the money go?!

A week of days out, family restaurants en route to home and gift shop purchases and the coffers are suffering.

And, actually, for all of the entrance fees and audio guides, playing in fountains will always be more enthralling than a museum exhibit. 

  
Plus middle-class, middle-aged National Trust women have a low tolerance threshold for children having a meltdown. Perhaps we won’t be taking out that membership just yet.

  
Perhaps we’d better take it a bit easy. Let’s not stray so far from home – the park is lovely and the beach is up the road. Free fun! Or, at least free fun until Noodles discovers the pleasures of the seaside arcades! 

  
Week 3: Crafting (i.e. we’ll never get that sodding glitter out the carpet!)

The kids don’t want to go out in the car any more. Oh well, the odd pyjama day won’t hurt. (Besides, there are no more clean clothes left!) We’ll get the glue out instead and craft a present for Granny, maybe do some baking later. Probably best to wear old/dirty/scruffy clothes for that anyway. Just don’t answer the door to anyone!

  
But then the floor is sticky with PVA, there are paint smears over the walls and the mountains of washing are now sprinkled with glitter! The kitchen is no better. The sink is piled with bowls of melted butter and cake batter*. 

(*Who am I kidding! That cake batter bowl was licked so clean it barely needed washing!)

There’s a layer of flour and icing sugar on every surface and you regret not buying a proper guard for the Kitchen Aid mixer.

  
Moreover, everyone’s so full of raw cake mix that no one wants to eat the buns you’ve so lovingly created. Maybe Granny can have them. We can present them in the tissue box now so covered in rhinestones it looks as though it’s rolled in Dolly Parton’s dressing up box. She’ll love it!

Week 4: What do you mean Granny doesn’t want to have the kids stay for a week?!

And after we’d so kindly given her a rhinestone-encrusted tissue box filled with dodgy-looking biscuits. 

Oh well, we’ll get the school uniform sorted instead. Except the blazers should have been ordered before school broke up for the summer and no one’s stocking the size trousers we need. Do you think Noodles will mind wearing a pleated skirt instead? Just until the shops re-stock…just after Easter when the Back to School stuff gets launched again.

  
Oh, and must remember to send apology flowers to the shop girl in Clarks! No one deserves that sort of hell for minimum wage!

Week 5: I’m done!

Sod it! These holidays are an eternal roll call of parental tortures! We’re out of cash, patience and underwear. Pyjamas rule, hair rushing is overrated, bedtime doesn’t exist in the hope that a late night will result in a lie-in and tablets are our friends (both the medicinal and technological sort)! 

  
Besides, the kids need time to go feral. They’ll be shut indoors for 6 hours a day bending to the will of the curriculum soon enough. Although feral nowadays means they’ve embodied the spirit of the Annoying Orange rather than got dirty playing in the garden.

At least staying in means that all the neglected chores can be done. Except the whirlwind of two children means that things are messed up far quicker than can be tidied by one mum, let alone tackling the bigger projects that need doing. Perhaps I’ll just drink wine instead.

    
Just stay away from other people’s Facebook pictures of their Mediterranean holidays and kid-friendly festivals. They’re probably secretly hating it anyway. In fact, I’m sure an Amaro filter is secret code for this-might-look-like-perfection-but-is-actually-hell-on-earth.

Week 6: Wait, what?!

Woah! What do your an it’s the last week of the holidays?!?! But we haven’t ticked off all the things on our Summer Activity to do list!!! We haven’t signed up for the library reading scheme. We didn’t make it to that theme park. We haven’t done the BFG Dream Jars trail around London. We haven’t made those homemade Jaffa cakes and I haven’t even ordered the name tags for the uniform, let alone sew them in! Sharpie marker will just have to do. It’s worked every other year after all!

And so we cram in what we can. At least by doing it all in the last week they might remember something for their What We Did in the Summer Holidays assignment back at school. Although what we mostly did was sit in traffic with all the other frantic families.

 

The bank holiday traffic was worth it for more fountain fun!
 
And here we are, facing the final weekend before we all take pictures of our kids in front of our front doors. Noodles is about to start school and Boo is moving up to blazer territory. I want to freeze time, but also get a routine back. I’m very much done, but also very much not. Maybe if we could just rewind and do it all again just once? Then maybe I’ll appreciate these golden days of summer, rather than feeling guilty about going to work then guilty that I’m not at work. Maybe I’ll have a better plan and Noodles and Boo will spend less time in their pyjamas. Or maybe it would be just the same. After all, it’s always the same every year. I never quite learn to distinguish between a heartbeat and eternity! And thus the sun sets on another school summer break.

  
There’s only 7 weeks ’til half term anyway.  Now, if you’ll excuse me I’ve got some shirts to label with Sharpie markers.

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All the Things We Didn’t Do This Easter

Ah, Pinterest. I’ve been here before, comparing my life to your perfection. But today’s Easter Sunday: less pressure than Christmas but still with a side order of expectation. There are two problems with trying add a dash of Pinterest loveliness to reality though: a) reality’s already pretty much rammed to be adding egg-blowing to the To Do list and b) time pinning perfection severely eats into any time available to actually replicate it!

It was never really going to happen – deep down I knew that. But you never know. Ok, I don’t play the lottery so that’s not going to happen and I don’t have any wealthy relatives at death’s door (or otherwise, to be honest), but maybe an unexpected gravy train will roll in from somewhere that will bestow upon me endless time and wealth to spend on glittery chocolate mini eggs and bespoke artisan-crafted nests.

  
Added to my lack of the impossible happening, Noodles has been unwell all week. Clingy at the best of times I have therefore either been at work feeling mum guilt in extremis or pinioned to the sofa by his little body desperately in need of constant big cuddles. 

No time for applying gold leaf to quail eggs or dip-dyeing lambs then.

  
So here’s my list of things that haven’t happened this Easter (and truthfully aren’t going to happen any Easter thereafter) even though my Pinterest and photo stream of screen grabs suggest otherwise.

No breakfast bunny pancakes.

  
Look, so cute! And surely not that hard to replicate (if I bought ready-made pancakes and chopped them into the right shapes, because I’m not going to get anything that spherical myself). But I didn’t buy them…or any strawberries, bananas or whatever that is making up the tail. Everyone had to fend for themselves instead (I’m such a bad hostess when family visit). Suffice to say it was largely Easter egg chocolate for breakfast instead.

No family day out

  

The sun shone yesterday. Which is rare at Easter (or on any family day out to be honest), so a nearby egg hunt would be great, right? From the pictures on other’s Facebook feeds it was lovely. We were glued to the sofa, remember? I was lucky to get to the loo without wailing from the smallest one. No way on Earth were we getting in the car!

So today, instead, we stuck to our house and garden. But, I guess, at least that way you get all the eggs to yourself.

  

 

I counted them all out and back in again this year, so at least I won’t be finding chocolate ovoids in random footwear come next February.

No beautiful Easter tablescapes 
  
Ploughing through laundry after a washing machine malfunction two weeks ago (with normal service only resumed yesterday) it was miraculous that we could actually identify the location of our dining table enough to clear it! 

There were tulips…but ones that were bought for me weeks ago by an angel of a co-worker who wanted to make me feel appreciated after a less than perfect Mother’s Day. There are plenty of tulips on Pinterest, but none with missing petals.

No jaw-dropping Easter roast

  

I don’t mind cheating when it comes to cooking and was planning on being inspired by The Pool’s suggestion of A 50:50 roast where you fiddle around with the meat a bit and then add ready-made sides. Aunt Bessie does a more reliable roast potato than me anyway. 

I did make my own cheese sauce for the leeks…and then Noodles’ persistent wailing because he wasn’t attached to my lap got too much and Husband had to take over!!! Which meant that not everything made it to the oven. Those bits being the only bits that Boo would eat, of course. Cue tears and chocolate making up her third meal of the day.

But at least the roast lamb made it to the table. Which is more than I did. I got to eat a tepid dinner in the living room with Noodles asleep on my lap, snoring through a bunged up nose.

  
At least I didn’t miss out on the beautiful tablescape/freshly picked tulips/decorated egg place settings that I hadn’t made.

No Easter cake

  

Probably for the best, as it would never have looked like this anyway, and my kitchen would have been covered in flour and melted chocolate and I probably (definitely!) would have sneaked a taster of  several too many mini eggs so the topping would have looked sparse.

Instead I made Crunchie Munchie Fridge Cake, encasing chocolate bars in more chocolate and topping it with melted chocolate and another chocolate bar. It looked like diabetes on a plate.

  
But, you know what, when you’ve induced a sugar coma on your entire family, no one notices that your Easter hasn’t been Pinterest perfect.

I may use that as my tactic next year too.

  

Mother’s Day Realities

Mother’s Day in the UK. I wake up not to breakfast in bed, but a Facebook newsfeed of others’ breakfasts, alongside shots of flowers and Pandora jewellery, chocolates and smiling children. As the day wore on, yet more smiling children, smiling mothers, smiling grandmothers, roast dinner shots and heartfelt quotes about love and family and #MothersDay #blessed.

Funnily enough, it didn’t work out like that here. So thank heavens for my sanity when a friend posted a pic of her washing pile with the caption ‘same shit – with lovely flowers and chocs’ whilst another friend posted a shot of an empty chair at a local steakhouse, the chair vacant as her teenage daughter had a strop and decided she’d rather just sit in the car.

  
I love my friends for telling it like it is. Because behind the pictures of family bliss lies a reality that’s less social media friendly. You can tick the boxes, but still come out underwhelmed and undervalued. Here’s what I got:

A lie-in!

  
But only because the kids didn’t fall asleep until 1am last night, so were too tired to get up at dawn.

Sadly it also means they don’t want to sleep tonight!

A Bacon Sarnie

Of my own making. At lunchtime…because with neither bread nor bacon in the house this morning it took a trip to the supermarket to stock up on supplies first. At least I used Husband’s card to pay for it.

Chocolates 

  

Bought for me for my dad (because Husband doesn’t see what Mother’s Day has to do with him – although I’m not sure how Boo and Noodles are meant to make it to Thorntons without supervision).

I was grateful for them beyond compare by the end of the day too. Without them as a bribe Boo would still be crying over her homework. Funny how the promise of an Orange Crisp or nine can make the three hours of wailing and sulking less torturous.

Precious Time With the Kids

Sadly Noodles vetoed a trip to the cinema (I was more than happy to pay for 90 minutes of quiet sitting down too, even if it involves watching an animated Panda, but he was having none of it). So instead I got to cut up bits of card into a thousand tiny pieces as Boo had a craft day (ie I then had the joy of picking up most of the tiny pieces of card from the floor and differentiating between which of the shards were rubbish destined for the bin and which were preciously vital to the project) and got to stand in the garden in the rain whilst Noodles bounced on the trampoline.

 

And there I was hoping I could have snuck in an hour at the gym. 

A Traditional Roast Dinner With the Family

  

Guess who cooked. Clue: it was me! And as for it being a picture-perfect family gathering, Noodles refused to come to the table and Boo was mid homework meltdown so sat sobbing over her six maths questions in her room. Less of a gathering; more of a distribution.

Oh, and those tulips at the top of my post. My favourite of all flowers, on display in my living room, looking beautiful with the promise of spring. I bought those for myself in the week too.

Don’t tell anyone, but next year my fellow underwhelmed mums and I have got a plan: we’re booking ourselves in for a spa day. We figure the kids might notice around teatime, the husbands as the football/obligatory Mother’s Day James Bond film finishes. Or perhaps when they log onto Facebook and notice pictures of our manicured toes on their newsfeed. Maybe then we’ll finally get to join the ranks of the #MothersDay #blessed.

Unconditional

Be grateful, kids, for unconditional love. Without it you guys would be sunk.

It’s what gets us through childbirth, even though we haven’t met you yet.

It’s what gets us through that first meconium poo. (The first real test of parenthood. It’s a strong person who doesn’t instinctively gag.) it also gets us through all the subsequent poos, including the most violently explosive, just-put-the-clothes-in-the-bin-and-open-all-the-windows ones. And the vomit. And blood. 

It’s what allows you to use our bodies until we break. From cracked, bleeding nipples from feeding you as an infant to back pain and arm ache from carrying you as a toddler. Its what drags us through the tunnel of sleep deprivation. It’s what motivates us to run aside you as our lungs burst as you learn to ride a bike. It’s what gets our knees through another search under the sofa to find your missing dummy/school shoe/favourite toy/escaped hamster.

It’s what sees us fight the forces of chaos and gravity as we pick everything up from baby toys to pieces of Lego and Loomz bands to plates and towels and mouldy bowls of cereal. (Why do kids only learn how to pick stuff up twenty years after they learnt how to drop things all over the place?)

It’s what gets us through the toddler tantrums. The screaming, the flailing limbs, the kicking and punching. The public judgement. 

It’s what causes us to shrug as any savings disappear in favour of a trip to Disneyland. Because the window for saving is bigger than the window for fairytale magic.

It’s what allows us to endure yet another trip to the park/playground/soft play area, the umpteenth viewing of your favourite DVD/reading of your favourite book (the one with the flakiest of plots and God-awful writing, but which fires your imagination like nothing else). 

It’s what sees us freezing on the sidelines of a football field or slowly go numb from the waist down during interminable dance recitals.

It’s what forces us to remember the lessons we learnt in school when confronted with homework-induced tears. It turns out there is a reason to learn trigonometry at school: to then cause major upset and stropping as we try to pass our knowledge onto you. It would be easier to teach compassion to the Devil.

It’s what gets us through a meeting with your key worker/school teacher/head teacher without lashing out or breaking down.

It’s what motivates us to keep restocking the cupboards and the fridge, even though we know we may as well just feed a plague of locusts.

It’s what sees us in a school car park before the crack of dawn, waiting to collect you from a school trip. 

It’s what makes us answer the phone at 3am to rescue you from whatever mess you’re in. It turns out that 3am is no more fun than when you were a non-sleeping baby.

It’s what gets us to drive you and your wordly belongings around the country until you choose where you want to settle. And pay for a goodbye meal for the privilege.

Yep, be grateful, kids – it’s powerful stuff. Because although you light up our lives with your smiles and enthusiasms, your warm hugs and hearty laughs, there are also plenty of times when we don’t actually like you much. It might last minutes (the duration of a tantrum or session of whining) or years (you’re meant to push as away as teenagers, right?). But luckily for you, underlying everything is that unconditional love. Ok, it’s what drives us as parents to brag about your achievements and post photos of you everywhere (also known as mum-you’re-killing-me embarrassment) but it also means we didn’t abandon you in a supermarket at the age of two. 

Roy Bear Tells the Truth

‘Oh, yeah, Noodles got given this bag at the end of nursery today,’ Eve informed me as she passed me a large The Hungry Caterpillar bag that had been hanging from the back of Teddy’s buggy and that I’d assumed was a new changing bag for him. Inside was a teddy dressed in a jumper and knitted trousers, a toothbrush, flannel and towel, pair of teddy-sized pyjamas and a journal. Roy Bear had come to stay the night!

‘I’ve come to stay the night,’ it said in the front of the journal. ‘Please could you draw a picture, take a photograph or write in the diary about the things I’ve been doing so that I can share it with my friends in nursery.’

There’s no way on Earth that Noodles would draw a picture and I have no way of printing off hastily-shot pictures, so (like the other parents) I’m left to write an account of the day. Unlike the other parents, mine shall be a work of ‘constructed reality’. (I know that the people mostly interested in it will be the nursey staff and the other parents. It’s already reading like a case of oneupmanship. ‘Got left in the bag and then Noodles showed no interest in me,’ isn’t going to cut it. And he’s already thought to be a square peg so it’s probably best not to add flame to the fire.) 

  

However, if Roy told the truth it would go something like this:

– Monday 11th March –

Jeez! Is there a support line for toy bear cruelty? 0800-TED TALKS maybe? I’ll give it a shot once everyone’s gone to sleep and us toys can wake up. (Toy Story wasn’t joking you know! It was cold hard fact, which is why you must NEVER EVER throw your kids’ old toys out or donate them to the nursery. It’s abuse everywhere, I’m telling ya. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.)

But onto me. Poor me. I couldn’t have gone back to the house ‘so big I nearly got lost’ after riding in the ‘shiny black car’ again could I? Oh no! I got used to that lifestyle far too easily, but today has been a trip from the stars to the gutter. What a comedown!

I mean, how can anyone forget about me?! I’m adorable! But whereas other families have taken me to the park for a go on the swings or  fed me ‘special treats’ of ice cream and chocolate (like these kids don’t eat these things every day? Pull the other one!) today I’ve just be abandoned! Left in my bag for hour after hour after hour. And on the hottest day of the year so far. And there I was – dressed in knitwear for crying out loud! – alone in the dark. I didn’t sign up for that!

It’s cruelty I tell ya! Cruelty!

You can take this as a formal complaint!

At the very least there should be a fine. I can spend the income on more weather-appropriate clothing. Who wants to wear a jumper more fitting of an 80s kids’ TV presenter day in day out? And those red trousers sit up higher than a pair of Simon Cowell slacks! Do you know how hard it is to remove a wedgie when you’ve got paws?! Has no one heard of Build-a-Bear? Man I could get me some sweet sweet threads from there! Sheesh!

  

But no wonder the mum panicked when she found out about me! I’d been abandoned, left to overheat and not even provided with an imaginary cup of tea from the play tea set!!! That in itself contravenes basic soft-bear rights. Disgusting!

But what’s truly shocking is that rather than tending to my stuffed toy needs the only thing she was concerned about was not being judged by the other mums/staff. Everyone knows that the other parents revel in finding out whose had chips for tea or who lets their kid play on the Playstation/watch CBeebies all afternoon. And tonight I didn’t even get anything to eat (not even the standard chicken nugget, when surely everyone knows bears prefer salmon, marmalade sandwiches, honey and picnic baskets!) or to indulge in lazy-parenting techniques. No, after today even the McDonalds-for-dinner-whilst-watching-back-to-back-DVDs parents look like goddamn Mary-frickin’-Poppins!

Except, the piece of fiction she’s come up with is shocking! Pure propaganda! Yeah, sure, I got taken to the supermarket with cutesy pictures of Noodles pointing out the buses down his street or counting the numbers down the aisles.

  
She even posed me in front of the goddamn honey!!! Did I get any? Did I heck! 

  

Never mind bare-faced lies; these are are bear-faced lies! Lies with MY face on them!

Because it’s all a lie all for the sake of looking like an engaged parent, rather than someone whose worked all day and whose childcare arrangements don’t stretch to after-school bear care. It’s a wonder she can sleep at night! Actually, she may not sleep tonight as she tries to print out said photos when it’s going to require transferring them from her phone to her laptop and then fixing the printer. Ha! Obviously without actual photographic evidence of our ‘adventures’ it’s just her word against mine. It’s how you tell the true yummy mummies from the rest. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before one of them sets me up with my own Facebook account for all of my selfies. Now, that’s how you go the extra mile in parental over-striving. They’re amateurs, the lot of them at the moment. Even the shiny car/massive house participant. If you want to be a Tiger Mum you’ve got to think outside the box.

Today though I didn’t even think I was going to experience things outside the bag!

As a result of today’s horrors, I would like to apply for a transfer. An international teddy transfer placement up in Alaska. My woolly pants will actually be appropriate for the winter months and I may finally get some goddamn salmon!!!

Roy x

Families Day Out Are a Big Mistake #9: You’d Have Thought I’d Have Learnt By Now

Why do I keep doing it to myself? Inspired by perfect pictures of other people and their kids doing outdoorsy stuff on sunny spring afternoons I think ‘We could – should – do that too.’ 

And thus it was that I set off for the bluebell woods at Foxley for an afternoon of sunny springtime loveliness. The Internet had made it sound delightful. 

  
But then the Internet can make Tinder or extreme radicalism or Dominos pizza sound like a good idea. I should have known better.

The best part of an hour to get there. The best part of the trip. Unless you like good music – we had Now That’s What I Call a Party! on the CD player. The playlist is terrible. But then I’m probably not its target audience.

  

No, Noodles and Boo are its target and every good record label knows who calls the shots on medium to long car journeys, if only because driving to the tunes of a school disco is preferable to the sound of whinging.

My eardrums may have been bleeding, but we arrived in one piece and with no one covered in vomit – well, that’s one up on last time! We really shouldn’t have got out of the car.

‘I don’t want to be heeeeeere.’ Boo whinged from the off. ‘I want to go hooooommmme.’

It didn’t then help that she promptly walked into a car’s wing mirror.

‘Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!’

Noodles was all right though. He ran off ahead, as is his style…

 …and then decided it was a good idea to launch himself at the biggest, dirtiest muddy puddles and to play with an electric fence.

When I’d let him do neither he joined in with Boo’s chorus: ‘Go home! Go home! Go home!’

  
The path was a bog. Both were in shoes (Noodles having trashed his boots at the beach a few months ago when depth perception of the sea and the concept of ‘paddling’ we’re both beyond him; Boo had left her wellies in the car). Boo freaked out at a butterfly. I called it a day.
We’d been there all of 15 minutes.

I decided to take them to Tesco instead. Ha! That’ll teach them! And at least their glum little faces fit right in with the other customers.

 
We did catch a glimpse of some bluebells in the woods. But was it worth the 2-hour round trip? Let’s just say next time I’m going alone.

   

And I’m not going to think my family as being capable of playing keep-up with the other families on Facebook. We’re clearly a different breed.

Family Days Out Are a Big Mistake #8: The Treetop Adventure

‘Would you be a Boggle or a Twiggle?’ I ask Boo as we make our way through the woods.

‘A Boggle,’ she resolutely replies.

I can’t blame her. The Twiggles live high above the trees in cute little houses. The Boggles instead live in the swampy marsh, their houses elevated out of the stinking mud.

  

There’s just one problem with my little Twiggle – it’s not much good clambering amongst the treetops when you’ve not got a head for heights. It’s especially hard when you’ve got a little brother not bothered by vertiginous drops whose already off at a scamper.

  

Boo grimaces her way around the Sky Maze.

It’s especially unfortunate for the mum involved (guess who!) whose paid a not inconsiderable amount of money to fly solo in the parenting stakes only to have to marshal said trembly-leg Twiggle through the aerial obstacles whilst wrangling the smallest to a more manageable scramble…whilst feeling a bit jelly-legged herself.

We’d gone to Bewilderwood for the day, a ‘curious treehouse adventure.’ A theme park in the woods and marshes with zip wires and slides rather than roller coasters and rides. I thought it’d be good to get out for the day and get some fresh air.

  

I should have realised my error sooner. Probably around the point Boo announced she felt queasy in the car…whilst we were at a standstill in traffic. Why hadn’t I made sure I’d put the spew bucket in the back? Suffice to say an old Costa takeaway cup didn’t cut it. Trying to wipe gelatinous bodily fluid from a seatbelt with a baby wipe whilst the damn thing keeps reeling in isn’t the most fun to be had either. And exactly how many vomit-related incidents does it take before the gag reflex stops kicking in?

But I’d pre-booked the tickets and we were damn well going to enjoy ourselves.

  

What ‘enjoyment’ looks like when you’re part of the Gluestick brood.

I may have used the phrase ‘suck it up’ whilst Boo whined about being on a rope bridge 20 foot in the air as Noodles galloped ahead.

  

I also watched my can of Coke turn into a river as Noodles knocked it off the picnic bench and my sandwich disappear as Noodles decided he preferred my lunch to his.

I watched both of them turn mute after we’d queued to meet the Easter Bunny. I was the only parent to bunny hop through the tunnel whilst my kids walked. And then they got the chocolate eggs. 

  

I watched a rash develop on Noodles’ face over the course of the afternoon. I’m still not sure if it was a reaction to a) the woods, b) being on a day out (Boo also similarly developed a rash on a trip to London Zoo that resulted in a trip to A&E on her return) or c) a rare brush with British sun.

  

At four o’clock we found our mojo though.

Boo had plucked up the courage to go on the zip wire…and loved it! 

  

‘Just pretend you’re flying!’

Sadly, as solo parent I didn’t get to have a go myself. (Although that was probably a blessing for the equipment, to be honest.)

Noodles found similar joy in the toddler zip though. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Luckily by now the park was emptying so we could hog them.

  

It was a shame then that the park was due tomorrow close at five.

Boo wanted to go in the maze. Time was getting tight as seeing as I can get lost in a supermarket car park it didn’t seem like the best idea so close to closing. Noodles wanted a present from the gift shop, specifying that he wanted something ‘red’. Bewilderwood colours are pretty much pink, green and purple. There wasn’t much ‘red’ to choose from. 

  

I think ‘Red’ the strangling punk monkey may crop up in my nightmares. Not that he’d rock up in Noodles’. He fell asleep in the car on the way home so didn’t get to sleep until 2.30am!!!

But for all the tears and traumas – despite the fact I’ve ached like crazy today – the conclusion was that we all had a great day. Boo has spent the evening tonight begging to go back. Absolutely we will. But I’m taking another adult – preferably one with a head for heights and a bottom for squeezing through tunnels – with me.