The children dragged me to the zoo today. I was like a small child when they chose it as their place to go, whining and looking for flaws in the plan:
Mummy: “Aw do we have to go? It’s raining.”
Kids: “We’ll wear our waterproofs.”
Mummy: “It’s cold.”
Kids: “Wear a jacket.”
Mummy: “We could go to the Farm.”
Kids: “We always go to the Farm.”
Mummy (in her head) Yes because it’s five miles away and serves great coffee. The Zoo is twenty miles away and serves UHT milk with its tea.
So in my new zen of organised calm I packed a picnic, sorted waterproofs, spare clothes, twenty pences for the sheep food, tissues for runny noses and a flask of hot tea. I’m so glad we went. It had mostly stopped raining by the time we arrived but the place was quiet considering it’s still the holidays – I guess because many were deterred by the weather.
It was cold.
Little man kept saying “I’ve got the shudders” (meaning he was shivering). In fact he was full of the horrors of being two today. After lunch, he zipped up his lunch box saying, “I had enough snack,” and then sobbed when I stood up, relieved I could finally go for a wee. “But my hungry,” he bawled as I dragged him to the portacabin containing the Ladies.
We had words.
In the end I gave in and got a fruit pouch out for him.
Then he kept sitting down on the floor in his dejected pose saying things like “I sad that you won’t help me jump,” or “I sad ’cause my boots are muddy.”
Even though it’s annoying, he’s so cute and so aware of his emotions I want to gobble him up in a muddy cuddle.
Little lady was quiet. When I got home she had a temperature so that explained her tears every time Aaron wouldn’t give her a cuddle. I worry about her feelings of rejection when her brother ignores her: it doesn’t bode well for the teenage years.
The only dark cloud on the day was reading an article about how harmful the microwave can be and how it kills the nutrients in food. As I heat the kids’ milk and steam their veg in the microwave it’s left me feeling a bit like a child killer. I really should stop reading such things! Relief came from a lovely friend of mine who regularly debunks the web-rumour posts that I suck in hook and line. Apparently the microwave one is no different, as to the specifics of the article I read (I don’t know about microwaves generally, just the ‘experiment’ in the article). It’s probably still a useful reminder to use the hob more than the microwave where possible.
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
“Did you enjoy your cake? We need to head off now. We’re staying in Sheringham tonight and it’s a bit of a drive. We’ll stop off at Norwich to break the journey.”
Sky pulled a face. “Why do we have to move again? I hate being in the car all the time. You don’t even have a CD player. It’s boring.”
Claire curled her hands into fists beneath the table. “Sorry, Sky. I don’t know if your Mummy told you, but I’m working on an assignment at the moment. Even though it’s lovely looking after you, I still need to work. But don’t worry: as it’s the Easter Holidays I had to juggle accommodation a bit, and we’re staying at the next hostel for a few days.”
The little face hidden beneath wisps of blonde hair grew darker and a tiny rose-bud lip jutted out. Claire no longer found it cute. Searching her brain for memories of what Sheringham had to offer, she came up trumps. “It’s near the sea. If the weather is nice we’ll be able to go to the beach.”
The transformation was instant. Sky’s head rose and her eyes sparkled. “I’ve never been to the seaside. Will there be sand? Like at the big sandpit in the park? Can we make sandcastles?”
Claire had no idea if the beaches at Sheringham were sandy, or the pebbly sort she associated with the British coast. She was pretty sure it would be more impressive than any park sandpit, even if it was covered in seaweed and rocks. Either way, now was not the time for honesty. The café was crowded and so far they had managed to have their coffee and cake without any screaming or tantrums.
“Yes, Sky, I’m sure it’s a sandy beach. I will buy you a bucket and spade as soon as we get there. Now, what do you fancy doing in Norwich? We’ll get a late lunch, as I’m sure you’re all full of cake. Shall we have a look at the iPad and see if there’s anything interesting to do?” Clearly keeping you busy is the best way of ensuring a harmonious holiday.
Claire tapped some words into the iPad and looked at the results. “Castles. Gardens. Museums. Hmmm.” She tabbed over to the map and back to the search engine. Even with her head bent over the table she could sense Sky’s growing impatience. I really should have been more organised. I hadn’t realised Sky would need entertainment as well as accommodation. I’m sure when we were kids our parents chucked us out in the garden and left us to it. When we were home, that is. Maybe siblings are useful for something.
She glanced up at Sky and felt a wave of pity for the girl, who would probably never know the pleasure and pain of brothers and sisters. At least I can make sure these two weeks are fun. Besides, it’s all great stuff for the blog. Chucking yourself off the balcony at an English Heritage Castle is probably not what Coca Cola would want as High Adrenalin activity, but mentioning all these places should help my Google rankings.
Dropping her eyes to the screen again, Claire breathed a sigh of relief. “Right, Sky, change of plan. We’ll go via Great Yarmouth and you can see the sea before bedtime. There’s lots to do in Great Yarmouth. What’s it to be? Sea Life or Merrivale Model Village?”
Sky leaned over and stared at the iPad screen, absorbed in choosing their afternoon activity. Claire tried not to look at the entry prices, knowing Carl wouldn’t consider either one sufficiently exciting to claim on expenses. What do parents do when they have more than one child? I could go to Ragdale Spa for the cost of taking a family of five on a day trip. No wonder Ruth is always complaining about being skint. You’d have to be mad to have kids I reckon.