Let me tell you about my day. I had both boys today as Nanny and Grandad (C’s parents) are on holiday (they have Elliot normally) and I was super excited about having an extra day together with my little boys this week.
Determined that this would be a no-TV day, we spent the early morning playing jigsaws and sticker books (Elliot and me) and rolling around the living room (Alexander)
At about 10.30 we headed to Cogges Farm (about a 5 – 10 minute scoot away!) for some fun on their adventure playground and to feed the animals before lunch (and if I’m honest so I could have one of the café’s decaf lattes and chocolate cheesecake brownies – believe me these are to die for, literally my favourite thing!)
Anyway, the day was going amazingly well, we’d fed the guinea pigs, the goats and the pigs (if you call Elliot literally lobbing apple slices at them “feeding”)
Yup it was all going well until we happened upon the “soft play” area – a pretty cool model of the farmhouse, with a ball pool duck pond, a weeble wobble farmer, a couple of chicken costumes that kids other than Elliot can wear (he freaks out around dressing up stuff – bit like me to be honest!), and a bouncy tractor slide.
We arrived and there were three or four other kids playing in it, and Elliot took his shoes off, put them on a shelf and hopped into the ball pool, playing happily with the others.
Slowly the numbers dwindled until Elliot was there with just one other little girl who looked around 2 and a half.
It was then that THE worst thing that parents fear more than anything else when around others of their species happened. Well ok maybe not the absolute worst thing as that would probably involve some form of bodily fluid erupting from your child…but still, probably the second worst thing happened: BOTH KIDS WANTED TO PLAY ON THE EXACT SAME TOY.
Why do they do that?
Literally both kids wanted to be in the same half-metre squared as the other. The tractor slide was the chosen piece of equipment, and neither of them were budging, choosing instead to try to squeeze themselves into the same air that the other was occupying.
As the parent of the slightly older child, and despite the fact I was holding a hungry Alexander, I stood near the edge of the soft play and started the routine of gently saying “Elliot, can you let go?” and “The little girl was there first, my love, why not play in the ball pool pond?”
He’s not moving.
“Elliot, come on monkey, let’s go and see the pigs?”
Nope. Didn’t work.
“Elliot, you don’t want to make mummy cross do you? I can’t come in as I’m holding Alex, so you be a big boy and move away from the little girl and let her play”
Oh god. He’s not going to move.
I look at the other mum, who is clearly judging me and my parenting. I decide to pull out the big guns.
“Elliot, I’m going to count to three…”
At this point the other mum turns to me and says “would you like me to have a go?” And she promptly goes over, and starts singing a song about a Big Red Tractor. Her little girl in enthralled. Elliot less so. But they’ve stopped pushing each other.
Damn it. How’d she do that?
I reluctantly join in the singing and calm is restored. Inside I’m feeling judged, and pretty rubbish.
Thanks a bunch Elliot!
Shortly after this, the “über” mum suggests that her little one might like to go and see the chickens, or something, and off they skip.
Feeling a bit rubbish, we stay in that soft play barn for another ten or so minutes later, then the boys and I go to the loo and then head towards the adventure playground.
And there she is, “über” mum with her little girl, heading towards us along the path, and Elliot is running ahead of me towards the slides. My face sets itself into a smile, and I’m ready with an anxious “ha ha” as she comes closer. I’m sure she thinks I’m a rubbish mum, and that Elliot is some unruly child who has no ability to self control….
Then I can barely believe my eyes at what happens next. My darling boy, my beautiful, well behaved, gentle darling, stops suddenly in his tracks. He turns to face me, comes to me with open arms and declares, out of nowhere and definitely audibly to those nearest to us (über mum included!), “I love you, mummy”, hugs my legs, then turns and skips off towards the slide waiting for him.
Über mum hears and I hear her “ahh” at the cuteness of it all. I carry on pushing the buggy, and my heart swells.
I love you too Elliot. Maybe I’m doing ok after all.