Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Great Park Palaver

Other people have small children who, when unwell, seem to want nothing more than to cuddle up with their mum or dad on the sofa and sit quietly, watching endless CBeebies.
Not my children.

Thomas and Ben have both been slightly under the weather for a few days with the tail-end of this persistent cold that seems to be doing the rounds at the moment.  Thomas has a niggly cough and an occasional temperature, Ben is perfectly happy but a little snotty and spluttery and convinced that the cure for all ills is more food.
Unfortunately for me, they both seem to have decided to cheer themselves up by driving me demented.  I assume that this attempt is being masterminded and co-ordinated by Thomas as I would sincerely hope that, at 7 weeks old, Ben is a little too young to be starting a career as an evil genius.  I see him in more of a sidekick roll at present – a babygrow wearing Mini-Me to Thomas’s Dr Evil.

It started yesterday afternoon when I collected Thomas early from nursery as he had been grumpy and running a slight temperature.  I am a veteran of the nursery rescue run and I therefore arrived prepared for the inevitable.  Sure enough, within two minutes of leaving nursery, Thomas was skipping down the road as though he had never had a day’s illness in his life.
“Would you like to go to the park?” I asked him.  It was unseasonally warm here yesterday and I figured that a bit of fresh air would probably do him more good than going home to languish on the sofa in front of Mr Tumble. 

Yes, he most definitely would like to go to the park.
“Are you sure?”

Yes.  He was very sure.
“Are you really, really sure?” I have had very similar conversations in the past, and it has turned out that “yes, I want to go to the park” was actually toddler-speak for “no, I intend to whinge and strop the second we get there.”

Yes.  He was most certainly sure and absolutely did not feel ill and he categorically did not want to go home.
We went to the park.  I laid out a picnic blanket and settled down to feed Ben and enjoy the sunshine.  Thomas lay down on the blanket, assumed a pose more suited to a Victorian heroine in a decline, back of hand laid dramatically across brow.

“I’m very ill,” he declared. 
I knew I had lost before I even made the attempt, but the sun was warm and I could not think of anything more depressing than getting back in the car with a screaming, hungry baby and a languishing toddler, and heading home to closet ourselves inside for the rest of the day.

“Why don’t you go on the slide?” I ventured, hopefully.
“I’m very ill,” he repeated indignantly and then cast me a sidelong look before getting to the point. 
“Want to go home now.”
“But you like the slide,” I whined. 
He was firm.  “Go home now.”
“What about….”

He gave me a look that plainly conveyed that he had been very patient with me but I was now pushing my luck.
Dispiritedly I packed up and home we went.

On the doorstep of the house, Thomas turned and looked up at the clear blue sky with a contemplative look, before turning to me.
“Want to go to the park,” he announced.

The Great Park Palaver, it transpired, was only the initial skirmish in a carefully planned and orchestrated campaign.  Thomas and Ben worked in tandem to ensure that I spent the entire night running up and down the corridor between the bedrooms.  Thomas took the fairly straightforward approach of coughing, crying and demanding milk, juice, water or whatever else took his fancy, before hiding his cup in increasingly unlikely places every time I left the room and wailing that he couldn’t find it.  After the fourth protracted search ended when I unearthed said cup from its resting place beneath the large furry behind of a giant polar bear, he clearly realised that he needed to up his game.
“I want to go to the park,” he informed me.

Ben, in the meantime, had come up with a particularly effective way of preventing me from snatching any sleep in between visits down the hallway.  This method consisted of bending and straightening his legs repeatedly, propelling himself up his bedside cot until his head was wedged against the bars, and then wailing to be rescued.  No sooner did I move him to the middle of the cot than he would begin his trek back up the mattress once again.
Every flexing of the legs was accompanied by a loud, drawn-out, straining noise, presumably to impress upon me just how much effort he was putting into helping me stay awake.

After returning from yet another game of hunt-the-cup in his brother’s room, I sank back into bed, only for Ben to begin grumbling and snuffling loudly, his protests occasionally punctuated by a high-pitched squawk.  When I reluctantly turned on the bedside light I found him naked from the waist up, having systematically removed his babygrow by drawing his legs up inside the fabric and then pushing hard, dragging it off his shoulders and down his body.
At this point I was almost ready to concede that I was in the presence of minds more devious and persistent than mine.  I was not quite beaten though.  Ben clearly sensed the remnants of my stamina for, having waited for me to re-dress him and return him to his bed, he looked up at me, smiled beatifically and filled his pants, loudly and at some length.

This sally almost marked the end of the night battle.  Ben had one final trick up his sleeve.  (Although his sleeve was probably round his ankles at this point.)  I was just sinking into sleep when I heard a loud metallic ping followed by an ominous rattle.  Ben had somehow managed to spit his dummy straight up over the top of his head, through the bars of his cot and bounce it off the bedside lamp and onto the floor where it disappeared under the bed.
I don’t actually remember what happened after that but I strongly suspect that I retrieved the dummy, gave it a half-hearted suck and returned it to its owner’s noisy little face, dustballs and all.  I presumably went to sleep at some point as I woke up in the early hours of the morning to the sound of “muuuuuummy” floating out of the bathroom.  When I trudged down the hall I found Thomas sitting on the bathroom floor, clutching his toothpaste.  “I’m very ill,” he announced as I turned the light on. 

Clearly.  So ill, in fact, that he had felt the need to brush his teeth.  After all, what does the old wives’ tale say?  Starve a fever, feed a cold, brush the teeth of a general malaise.  Funny,  I’ve never heard that one. 

I cleaned the toothpaste off the floor and was about to return him to his bed when I caught a glimpse of something white below the cuffs of his pyjama bottoms.  Further inspection revealed that he had covered his feet in toothpaste.  I looked at the white, sticky toes for a moment, shrugged, and returned him to bed before retreating to my own room and burying my head under the pillow.

It can only get better, yes?  Yes?


  1. Yes!!!! Sorry but this made me giggle. That cutie pie in the picture is far to distracting. It does seem that anything that can go wrong will go wrong on certain days. I have had some belters too. I don't even have any advice, just keep going and try if you can to see the funny side. I think we have to or else we'd just cry instead!

  2. I neary did cry when the CBeebies bedtime song came on with the happy little refrain "at the end of a lovely day", followed by "we've had so much fun today".

    And then I went into a homicidal rage and considered tracking down the person who wrote it and bludgeoning them with a toy bus....