Throughout the summer, the children take it in turns to ruin our day, one of them always waking us up at silly o’clock whilst the other slumbers on undisturbed, as if they got together one night after lights out and drew up a rudimentary schedule. Today was Stella’s turn to trot into our room at 5.10 and try to squash her freezing cold feet between my thighs as I stared blearily at the clock in disbelief.
When Jet got up at six, I tried to encourage them to sit together and watch CBeebies for a bit whilst I snuck back to bed, but she took this as a personal insult. The sofa and kettle beckoned.
Cupateas, ‘bix and toast were demanded and eaten, clothes were presented and ignored, offers of help went unaccepted, countdowns reached their conclusions unheeded, reminders and threats worked their magic until eventually everyone was dressed. Chris went to work and Stella, Jet and I headed down the road to the hairdressers where the children had an appointment for a trim.
Amazingly, this visit was like taking someone else’s very well behaved children for a haircut. They were both so good I even got to read a magazine, and I felt a reward was definitely in order. Once the promised chocolate buttons were presented, my own children returned – Jet stropped at my suggestion we go to the bakery before feeding the ducks and not the other way around, whilst Stella, wearing a superhero cape, much preferred the idea of running about to waiting sensibly for the bus.
Once we got to Enfield Town, I relented and we fed the ducks first. We watched a couple of coots building a nest and sprinkled some oats in the direction of some nonchalant ducks. Super Stella ran up and down the path alongside the river, mercifully separated from the water by a fence, using her superpowers of being a trip hazard to the elderly, and alarming neighbourhood cats.
We wandered along to the geese on the grass, where Jet got far too close to the water’s edge and tried to climb the quaint and rather antique railings of the little footbridge as well as the wire securing the telegraph pole to the ground. He batted away my requests to descend, saying, “You’re supposed to climb up wires, Darling!” Approaching the fountain, he wanted to climb that too, asking, “How do you get to the middle?” I managed to remove him from the water feature just before he started to pick out the one penny coins at its bottom. Onward.
Stella was letting the whole Super thing go to her head and was still running. She would not be convinced to hold my hand, even after falling over several times, so I strapped the reluctant heroine into her pushchair, which was not what she had in mind. She made her disapproval known in the busy bakery by crying at the top of her lungs, until the availability of ‘nacks took her mind off this somewhat.
We walked back through town to get the ingredients for Jet’s idea – a birthday cake for Nana – past our friendly fishmongers. Jet wanted to go in and explain that “We don’t need any fish today, thanks,” but Andrew still offered him his usual – a cup of ice chips (this tradition started as Jet was always eating the ice chips off the display, which was a bit wrong). Chocolate, butter etc in the basket, I also bought a new tin, which I thought would give the cake a much less rusty taste than the one I had originally planned to use. Jet explained in detail to the woman on the check out what we were going to make, whilst he and Stella feasted on ice chips. I also bought a large bottle of Tanqueray. I do wonder what people make of me in public – gin and chocolate for mummy, plain ice for the nippers.
Bus caught and lunch eaten, I remembered that I had put a load of washing on before we went out. Jet commandeered one of the airers as his shop. I managed to convince him that what it sold was socks and pants, and that he needed to hang them up to form a display of his wares. He quickly had enough of this game and retired to the bench for a nap. “I’ve started you off,” he said, “When I open my eyes, I want to see the display finished.” Opening his eyes about 1 minute later, he was not satisfied with my handiwork. “I need some display here, here and here.” he instructed.
If you’re thinking, “That tin looks a little bit full,” you’d be right. The cake spilt over the top whilst it was cooking. This final picture shows the true secret to Barry Scott’s incredible results. I had to employ a similar technique on the bottom of the oven.
We said farewell to Stella for a nap. I explained to Jet that owing to my early morning wake up call I was tired; I wanted to lie down on my bed for a bit. He conceded, “I want to do some making.” I got him down the collage boxes, paper, glue and scissors, made him a drink and put on something 4 year old boys like, and went upstairs. Ladies and Gentlemen, I actually had a bit of a kip! After an hour, he came to see if I was ready to make the cake yet, got me my slippers and everything. We made the cake, then he (or was it Barry Scott?) helped with the clearing up: “We should use Cilit Bang limescale. It’s so good, it’s the number one cleaner!”
Stella got up and they played for a bit, then we did some drawing. I was trying to write my mum’s birthday cards, Stella was trying to scribble with all of the crayons and tasting them all when I wasn’t looking. Jet was doing some of the activities from his Usborne space book, which mainly involved shouting at me “What are you supposed to do here!” then ignoring my explanation and demanding to know the instructions again a minute later.
Dinner was pasta bake left over from yesterday which hadn’t gone down that well the first time. Stella ate all of the pasta after carefully removing every morsel of hidden vegetable, then squidging them revoltingly through her fingers. Himself didn’t show any interest in it until I had thrown it away, at which point he wanted to eat it (of course.) I served him some more, which he ate all of in about one minute. However, fussing over his pasta had left no time for a bath, so I decided to let him help decorate the cake with chocolate buttons. “I’m not even going to eat one of them.” he said, with unprecedented self control. Then, “Yes I am.” he popped one in his mouth. That’s my boy.
Finally, the great pyjama debacle that happens every night in households across the land. Tonight it was playing with a car that took precedence. Eventually, they were donned and teeth were brushed. Stories were read and kisses and cuddles were given. The nightly conversation ensued about what a lovely day it had been and how it was a shame to spoil it with arguments about pyjamas, whilst a post-reason Jet gazed into the middle distance and told me facts about Yoda. It had been a busy day.
The sofa and that bottle of Tanqueray beckoned.