Out of sheer desperation I came up with the idea of Bath Art today.
Aaron was refusing to exit the Peppa Pig rocket they have at our local supermarket (after being a complete star all during a weekly food shop and lunch at a busy supermarket: Who knew it was still half term in our local town?)
As I toyed with the idea of breaking my own rule and putting another £1 into the Peppa Pig toy (it is cool – the rocket spins and there are buttons to press which illuminate different planets on a map of the solar system) I began going through a list of other more appealing activities to tempt him home.
The conversation went something like this:
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?”
That was the point at which I knew I could ask “Chocolate Cake?” and he’d say “No!” because he’s going through that phase. One of the ones your brain erases, like childbirth, because otherwise you’d never do it twice.
Actually, when Amber went through her ‘Why? / No!’ phase (as I like to call it) Aaron was already six months old so it was too late to send him back. Now I have a why/no toddler and a sulky
So my beleaguered brain remembered something I’d read on a parenting blog somewhere about making paints and taking them in the bath. Genius. At the time I thought the woman was mad but I was all out of other ideas on four hours’ sleep.
I made the paints out of cornflour and food colouring. Don’t know why I didn’t just use poster paint except I’m not a big fan and I had no idea if it would stain the grout/bath/children. As it turns out, food colouring stains grout/bath/children too, although not permanently thankfully. A second bath of bubbles eventually washed off the blue tummies and mostly erased the yellow scum tidal mark. Got rid of all the hot water too but that was a small price to pay on a day when it was bitter outside and Mummy and Daddy had zero energy.
At least I managed to write half an installment while walking the dog this evening (before my fingers became too cold to tap-tap) so hopefully it won’t be too painful to write the rest when the kids are in bed. I will have to search for a possible continuity error though as I’ve been writing recently about Ruth as Claire’s ‘little’ sister but I think Claire’s the youngest.
NB I was right, Claire is meant to be the youngest, so have changed one word in an old post from ‘little’ to ‘poor’. The challenges of writing and publishing on a daily basis!
I’m sneaking five minutes now to write this bit while the kids watch Mike the Knight with Daddy. I can’t stand Mike the Knight. If he was my child I’d be horrified, although I guess he always comes good in the end.
Oh, it’s finished. Time to go…. Ah. Both kids want Mummy to put them to bed. It’s going to be one of those nights. TTFN.
“Still sulking Claire? Aren’t you a bit old to be acting like a silly schoolgirl?”
Claire looked up at Josh and tried to make sense of the sounds coming out of his mouth. Sulking, school girl, Sky, Ruth, sister. The words marched through her consciousness without leaving a mark. She felt rather than saw Josh lean over and peer into her face.
“Have I really upset you? Is it because we soaked you at the lake today? You looked cute: like a little kitten who’d toppled into a bath.”
Claire looked at the phone cradled in her lap and tried to absorb what Josh was saying.
He sat next to her on the sofa and his voice washed around her like a warm wave. He talked into her silence but the words barely registered. Something about it being lonely on the road and that maybe running away was the wrong thing to have done.
Run away. I’d like to do that. I’m sure Ruth would too.
“You can’t run away from cancer,” she said, her voice alien and weak.
“What?” Josh’s response was curt. The harsh tone surprised Claire, momentarily dragging her out of her bewilderment.
“What?” She echoed him without understanding.
“You said you can’t run away from cancer, what did you mean by that?”
She turned to face him and fell into the blackness of his eyes. Shaking off feelings she couldn’t process, Claire said quietly “My sister has a brain tumour. They’re operating in the morning. She needs me to look after her six-year-old daughter for a week or two at Easter while she has chemo. Is there anything else you need to know?”
Josh moved to the edge of the sofa, his face white. “Did she say whether it was primary or secondary? What part of the brain is it in?” His voice was clipped and business like. “Where is she being treated?”
“Addenbrookes,” Claire responded, finally hearing a question she could answer. “How do you know to ask all those things?” Claire had sat mute as her sister broke the news, her brain empty and cavernous.
“Oncology is – was – my specialism.” Josh spoke the words as if they pained him.
“What’s Onc-whatever you said?”
“Treatment of cancer.”
“You’re a doctor?”
Claire looked at Josh. He’s not much older than me. What gives? Part of Claire wanted to pursue the thought, but curiosity about Josh’s past was soon swamped by her present worries. She wished she could recall everything Ruth said on the phone so she could ask Josh what it all meant. As hard as she tried to remember her sister’s words only two sentences were chiseled into her memory. I need you to take Sky and It’s malignant, they’re going to operate tomorrow.
Josh and Claire sat together on the sofa, close but not touching. Around them the hostel bustled with chatter. Beth’s laugh echoed from behind them, where a raucous game of Trivial Pursuit was underway. Each lost in their own thoughts, the two almost-strangers sat in silence.