Have you ever had one of those days where, despite knowing full well that you’re not a bad parent, have gone around giving people the impression that you’re completely useless? That was me this morning. It should have been pretty straightforward really – Kate joined Dylan on a pre school trip to a nearby farm so I was left with Xander.
I’m no stranger to spending one-to-one time with the smallest member of the family and always look forward to it and, despite the fact we had a few odds and sods to do in town, I wasn’t concerned at all. That was my first mistake…
Xander is a lovely little lad; he’s highly articulate for his age and seems well attuned to other people’s feelings. I had neglected to remember this morning that he also seems to think that he is Loki, Norse god of mischief. And that the weather seemed to hold similar beliefs…
While I was finishing my breakfast and answering a few emails, he turned off the laptop at the wall. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a problem, but ours only works when it’s plugged in after an incident involving laddo and a full cup of tea. Never mind, it restored my tabs when I rebooted, so no harm done. Then, while I was in the shower, he decided to pump liquid soap – which we got to encourage him to wash his hands – on the bathroom floor. After we’d finished slipping over, I cleaned it up and, although we both still smell strongly of strawberry laces, that was that.
Finally, we were ready to leave the house. All we needed to do was go to the library and a few shops. Simple. Except it was persisting it down outside when we opened the door. After a brief wait and box of raisins to keep him quiet, the rain had stopped. We made a run for it. We were halfway to the library when it ripped down again. Arse.
I legged it to our destination, skillfully avoiding some dog ‘produce’ that responsible owners had left in situ and taking note of the fact that the wheels were starting to wobble. Oh well, we got there in one piece, the books were still dry and thanks to me remembering my inhaler, I didn’t have an asthma attack. Winning.
I returned the books and we chose some more, then Xander decided to run off while I was in the queue to take them out. He only ran to a seating area, so no real harm done. Back at the desk, I realised I didn’t have either his or Dylan’s library cards – Kate and I normally carry one each but, for some reason, she must have had them both. Never mind, I had mine. Except it had expired.
While I renewed it and got the books out, he grabbed them and chucked them on the floor before doing another runner – this time behind the desk. If he’d added an “Aah-aah-aaaaaahhh” it would have been a carbon copy of a certain Little Britain sketch. Anyway, the friendly staff were fine about it and we were soon on our way, everyone all smiles.
Mercifully, it had stopped raining. After a tantrum about getting back in the pushchair – him, not me – we headed to the shops. I needed some groceries as well as an old-fashioned shirt I could wear at Dylan’s pirate party. We headed to one of my town’s many charity shops. Nothing. This established an irritating pattern; charity shops used to be so good for naff old clothes for dressing up in. They only have good stuff now – poor show! I punctuated the monotony by taking him to buy some bread and ham.
Apart from him trying to pickpocket a young mother, this was uneventful. We went to the penultimate charity shop. One of the wheels fell off his pushchair. I let him out and, while I struggled to find all the bits of wheel and get out his bag – which has a handle for me to stop him legging it – he did a lap of the shop and started emptying the toy box. We didn’t even bother with the last one. I bet it had the perfect shirt in it.
On the way back, we walked past an old lady at a bus stop. “Hello!” she said to him. He was a bit miffed I’d stopped him jumping in the road moments beforehand, so he gave her a mardy look. “Sorry,” I said with a warm smile. “He’s a little bit grumpy at the moment!” “Just like his dad,” she replied. I gave her a forced smile. You know the kind. One that secretly conceals the sentiment “Fuck off, hag.”
We reached the home stretch which, following the earlier tempest, was infested by puddles. Thanks to that little sod Peppa Pig teaching small children to obliterate them, Xander soon ensured that the bits of us that had remained dry were soaked through. He nearly got our neighbour too as he stopped to say hello on the way past.
Finally, we reached our gate. We were both drenched and I was aching from being pulled in one direction by him and the other by the knackered pushchair the whole way home. He went in and then shut me out until I threatened to forget lunch. As soon as we were through the door he said “Ahhhh, it’s good to be back home.” The little bugger.
It being one of those days, there was still time for a final insult. I made him his lunch as he sat angelically at the table. He paused as he was about to take his first bite. “You’re a nightmare, Daddy,” he said.