Because what the internet needs is more wittering about rubbish parenting

Friday, 10 August 2012

A Little Trip Out

Right, I think I have sufficiently recovered and gained enough distance to tell you about our day out on Wednesday.

On Wednesday I took the girls out for the day, to meet some people I chat to on the internet (don't worry, it was a public place, and people knew where I was just in case they happened to turn out to be crazed, axe-wielding psychopaths instead of perfectly pleasant mothers of small children). This involved taking the two of them on a train, on my own, to York, then letting them loose in the National Rail Museum all day, and then taking them back on the train, still on my own. As you can probably already tell, this turned out to be not the easiest thing I have ever done in my life.

The bit that was scaring me the most was actually getting them through the station and safely on to the train without losing one of them. Memories of my little sister toddling towards the edge of the Metro platform and getting her leg stuck between it and a train perhaps have something to do this anxiety (I was supposed to be holding her hand while my mother folded the buggy, which I was, I just kept holding it while she walked forwards, instead of making any effort to keep her still. Ah well.). As it turned out, I didn't really need to worry about that part. The Littl'un was strapped into the sling, so she was safe. Heavy, but safe. And The Big'un was BRILLIANT. She held my hand, stopped when I said stop, stood where I told her to, and just generally behaved in an exemplary manner. Perhaps my vague-but-dire warnings about falling near trains (it's quite tricky to try to instill caution but not sheer terror in small children) had some effect and she actually did some listening for once. Wonders will never cease.

Once safely on the train, I immediately went for my fall-back parenting plan, entitled Operation Give Many Snacks. This can usually be relied upon to buy me peace for as long as the food keeps coming. It worked well. However, eventually, The Big'un decided she needed a wee. Anticipating this, I had cleverly booked seats near to the toilet. Which was broken. So gathering up my stuff and my children, we schlepped down the carriage to the working toilet, whereupon, naturally, she decided "I don't need a wee-wee!". Schlepped back. You can guess what's coming, surely? Yup, five minutes later "I need a wee-wee!". Four wee-less trips we made to that bloody toilet. The people around me were wearing amused smiles. They'd been there, I sensed. (The situation, not the toilet. Although maybe the toilet, I don't know).

Train trip one, done. Now for the museum. For some reason, I had thought this would be the easy part. Pahahahahahhahahahahah! No. It seems that unleashing two small children, in what is essentially a very large shed filled with giant things to climb on and hide behind, in the company of older and bolder children who they are desperate to play with and impress, is not actually all that relaxing. Who'd have thought? After a couple of hours of "Get down off there!", "Share!", "Come back here right now!", and "Has anyone seen my other one?", I couldn't take any more and headed for the play area, where there were fewer hazards and places to hide. There was a flaw in this plan, however, and it was that eventually, I would have to get her to leave it. This did not go well. If you happened to be in the play area of the National Rail Museum on Wednesday and saw a very harrassed-looking woman literally dragging a screaming three-year-old in the direction of the toilets, that was me, and I hope you didn't call Social Services. The tantrum only got worse when I tried to get her to actually go to the toilet, and I had less than no idea what to do about it. You'll probably know that I am not the best at the discipline anyway; discipline while out and about is bloody impossible for me. When you're far from home, booked on a specific train so you can't leave early, you don't have favourite toys to take away or naughty steps to utilise (although I did plonk her in a random corner at one point), and you know she's far too tired for a promise of later sanctions to be effective in any way, you got nothing. And she knew it. Boy, did she know it. Defiant is not the word.

Anyway, I finally managed to bundle them back onto a train. The Littl'un had missed both her naps and veered from screaming to hysterical laughter every couple of minutes. The Big'un played with her tray table the whole. freaking. time. Thankfully, my mum came to pick me up at the station. If I'd had to do bedtime on my own I think I would have just sank into a heap on the floor and hoped they'd put themselves to bed. They had Burger King for their tea because it was nearest and quickest and finding anything else to eat might have finished me off.

Still, they had a lovely day. And so did I, between the bouts of stress. But I'm not doing that again in a hurry. I might not take them both on a train trip on my own for several years. Possibly about 50 years, and then it will be their turn to take me to the toilet and run around trying to find where I've wandered off to.

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