There are some days that are a bit tricky. There are some that are downright difficult. And then there are days like yesterday which become the stuff of legend because of their utter ridiculousness. All I needed to do was go 45 minutes down the road and pick up a buggy I’d bought on gumtree. To make it a bit more fun (and create the opportunity for a nappy change and feed stop) I planned to stop off at the M&S cafe en route for a coffee. Granted, I had both of the tiny hooligans in tow, but I thought I’d counteracted that by getting my mum to come with us (“Honestly, we’ll be back in 2 hours, you won’t need to do anything, I’d just like the company, fib fib fib…”). However in retrospect, even the graduating class of Norwood Nannies would have been no match for the shenanigans that unfolded.
It had started off so well. SO WELL. We were on track to leave at 9am as planned- Bean was already having her first nap of the day IN THE SWING (note, NOT in the carrier) and she never sleeps for longer than 30 minutes first thing, Pickle was dressed with teeth brushed and hair sorted, and was swaying in front of CBeebies (why do they do that?), and the first load of washing was in. Boom. I felt so confident in fact, that I didn’t make Pickle a packed lunch as we’d DEFINITELY be back home for that. I cockily chucked a banana in the changing bag (prepared the previous evening, I thank you) for her snack.
Mum rocked up at 0910 but that was ok, I’d had 0930 as an acceptable departure time in my head, so we were still on track. Bean needed a nappy change when she woke up…hang on, why the hell was she still asleep? 45 minutes and counting. Had she really picked TODAY to start good napping?! I kept checking the monitor screen every three seconds like a lunatic to see if she was stirring. Nope. Not even a flicker. Another 7 minutes passed, and Pickle started to sway a little more maniacally and ask lots of questions about Mr Tumble (What did he do for a job, where did he live, why did he live with his Granddad, Aunt and a Lord, etc) and it became clear she needed a change of scenery sharpish to avoid a toddler meltdown. So I did it. I WOKE A SLEEPING BABY, like some kind of amateur. She didn’t seem that bothered as I scooped her up out of the swing, but she fixed me with a look that said ‘Just so we’re clear, you’ll pay for this later’.
So by 0937 we were on the road, steaming towards our destination with my white noise app blaring out of my phone as it’s the only thing that silences Bean’s inborn desire to scream through EVERY car journey. However, our destination didn’t yet have an address as the vendor of said buggy lived on a housing estate that was still under construction. Eventually, after 15 minutes driving round and round the same roads and eventually over a pavement separating two cul-de-sacs, we found them. I was ever so slightly starting to lose my zen-like demeanour by this point- I was definitely getting a bit sweaty. The guy seemed similarly harassed, his two toddlers hanging off his leg trying to kill each other with foam swords, as he demonstrated the buggy’s features. I was becoming increasingly aware of my mum’s efforts to pacify a now stir crazy Pickle, and a car seat- hating, hungry Bean in the increasingly hot car. The buggy could have been on fire, and I would have still handed over the £180, if just to get out of there and to a safe haven where they could both be fed and calmed.
By the time we’d got 5 minutes down the road, they were both having full blown shit-fits. Bean because she just bloody hates the car, and was additionally knackered because I’d woken her up earlier, and Pickle because after screaming that she didn’t want the radio on, she had now decided she definitely DID want it on. However on this occasion I’d decided I’d actually parent and stick to my guns (WHY?!?), causing a full blown hissy fit.
Luckily M&S was only 5 minutes away- I could almost see it’s calming beacon of light shining towards us, guiding us in. After managing to find a parking space (amazing how many owners of two seater sports cars without any child car seats apparently have children looking at the ones parked in the bloody ‘parent and child’ bays) and stopping the kids from breath-holding with anger, we hastily unloaded them and their associated crap into the new buggy and through the doors. This is when we realised in utter horror that M&S had a mid-season sale on. It was like an OAP hunger games.
After completing the endless slalom around mobility scooters and blue rinses, we were finally seated with drinks in hand and there was temporary calm as I fed Bean and Pickle eyed up her babyccino. Unfortunately, they’d made it as hot as the sun, so I had to keep explaining on a loop why she had to wait before she could drink it. I reached into the bag for the trusty banana- where the bloody hell was the bloody banana?! It was definitely in there earlier, I’d checked. Eventually after what felt like a hundred years her babyccino was cool enough to drink. So what did I do in celebration? Knock it all over my sodding jeans of course. So, I now stink of milk, look like I’ve wet myself and have a grief stricken toddler screaming “NAUGHTY MUMMY” at me through angry tears. Never one to miss an opportunity, Bean seized this moment of collective distraction to grab the handle of my mums coffee, sending it all over the table. At this point we decided to hot-foot it out of there, leaving a scene of devastation behind us.
So now it’s about 1200 and fast approaching Pickle’s lunch time. Except I didn’t pack any lunch, remember? So down to the food hall we go, trying to search for any toddler friendly munch that doesn’t cost the equivalent of a second home. After 5 minutes I walk out with humous and carrot sticks, a baby smoothie and another sodding banana to replace the one I’ve somehow lost on the motorway. We decide on the way out that mum will shoehorn herself between their car seats to placate Bean and avoid a scream-fest, and also to supervise Pickle’s ‘lunch’ and stop her from falling asleep en route, as even if she falls asleep for 45 seconds (as she did once as I was reverse parking outside the house), that’s her done until bedtime.
Once everyone was squeezed back into the car and we were about to leave, something caught my eye- the original sodding banana… on the car roof, now hot and brown from an hour of direct sunlight. FFS. I went to open the white noise app on my phone- nothing. Blank. Bloody. Screen. Now, my phone has been intermittently buggering up for a month or two, but going into EE to discuss phones with a young, enthusiastic technologically-minded salesman accompanied by my two emotionally unstable children has as much appeal as coffee and a chat with Katie Hopkins, so I’ve been avoiding it like the plague. So here I am, desperate with no Bean-Kryptonite. We’ll all be deaf from her screaming by the time we get home. So utter kudos to my mum, who over the next 3 miles continuously impersonated a hoover in Bean’s ear as she fed Pickle her lack-lustre car picnic. It’s a sight I will treasure for many years.
7 minutes in and Bean was happily snoozing and Pickle had demolished her ‘lunch’ (with humous now lovingly smeared all over the car)- all was well… until I noticed all three lanes of the motorway slowing to a complete stand still. My blood began to run cold. Traffic. Jam. We were already on borrowed time- Bean had been asleep almost 30 minutes- her absolute maximum in the car, and Pickle was fast approaching nap time, eyelids were becoming heavy and long bouts of staring dead ahead and begun. Shiiiiiiit. My mum suggested we take the exit immediately ahead, which I did feeling quietly smug that we’d avoided disaster, only to then get stuck in Exeter’s longest running and slowest road works for the last decade. After another 50 minutes of singing Happy Birthday (Pickle’s request, I don’t know why), impersonating household white goods and clenching recently insulted pelvic floor muscles to avoid further wet jeans, we made it home. Nerves were shredded, kids were pissed off and knackered and any optimism for life with two children getting easier had been completely obliterated.
But I got the bloody buggy though, didn’t I?!