It was almost like looking in a mirror.
I was stood on one side of the road and you were stood on the other. I, like you, had my pram and was flanked by two children – five year old on one side of me, three year old on the other. The three year old was screaming “mummy I want a cuddle!” with one breath and then, Miss Contrary that she was, bellowing “No mummy – leave me!!!” when I actually dared try to engage her. You were trying to placate your toddler boy and I could see your fraught face though I could not make out your words over the din of traffic and my own noise maker. We caught each others eye briefly as we waited for the green man to tell us we could continue the march to school and that is when, I think, we each saw ourselves in the other. Finally the beep as the green man appeared – the starter pistol telling us to get the banshees and go. Halfway across the road we met and I said “Something in the air?” just as you said “What’s up with the kids this morning?!”. You summed it up perfectly with your half joking, half deadly serious “GAAAAAAARGH!!!”.
For a few fleeting moments I had a comrade, a sister in arms, in you the perfect stranger and it made me smile in spite of myself (or, more accurately, in spite of bloody stroppy little madam to my right!).
I hope your day got better. Mine did, mainly thanks to bribery and Peppa Pig (not Dora the Explorer as after much brin wracking I now remember her to be the cause of the frackas in the first place!).
There is nothing quite like the fall of dusk to trigger a full on inquisition from a preschooler. First is a reasonable statement upon the announcement of bedtime “No it’s not, it’s not dark!”. At which I have to explain that the sun goes to bed later in the summer (as explaining seasonal clock changes in a way my three year old can understand is beyond even me, the mummy who uses ballpit play balls to explain how static shocks occur to the bewildered looking imp – well she did ask!). This prompts its own question. “But why does it go to bed late in summer?” I think for a bit and tell her the sun works hard in summer, shining lots to help make things grow before winter comes and everything grows more slowly, and so it shines for a bit longer. “But why can’t things grow faster in the winter as well?” “Because it’s cold and lots of things don’t like the cold”. “Mummy, can I have another story please?” “No, it’s late now sweetheart.” “But mummy I have been working hard like the sun today so I should get extra play time too”. “Maybe tomorrow, it’s late now”. Turn over to sleep, edge out of the room. “Mummy, is it school tomorrow?”. “Yes baby.” “And Jane’s (childminder)?”. “No baby, it’s school and then you and me and Poppy time tomorrow”. “Oh good, I like our little holidays.” “Good, night night sweetie”. “Mummy, is daddy at work tomorrow?” “Yes but then it’s the weekend” “Oh good… mummy?” (Sighing a bit haughtily) “Yes Izzy?”. “I love you, you’re the best mummy in the world”. (I feel guilty for being haughty and melt into a puddle of maternal happiness at this matter of fact compliment) “Oh thank you sweetheart, what a lovely thing to say! I love you too, you are a beautiful and amazingly kind little girl”. Kisses and cuddles ensue. I go to leave. “Mummy? I have a sore throat. I need calpol and chocolate milk”. It’s half past ten. We have had colds and I had a sore throat yesterday so rather than argue I grant her a small dose and a little drink and get her back into bed. “Oops, I need a wee”. Down she gets and goes to the bathroom. Ten minutes later “Izzy are you done yet?” “No, I am doing a poo”. Lovely. Another ten minutes. “Are you ok in there? Izzy? Izzy?” Open the door and there she is playing with bath toys in the sink. Finally at 11pm she goes to sleep.
And Poppy wakes for a feed.