A Wednesday in November

Plan for the day: visit Gran, have nap, take Toddler to his first ever dentist appointment at 4.30pm.

6am. The Baby wakes up hungry. I feed her and hear that she has also obligingly woken her brother up, who is now shouting from his cot: “Muuuuuuummeeeeeeeeeeeee!” As I feel six o’clock is just too early for toddlers I carry on feeding the baby, put her back in her moses basket and then get the Toddler out of bed.

He rushes to his cars, points up at the clock (“Six, Mummy! Three!”) and kisses Teddy.

“Guess what? We’re going to visit Gran today!” I tell him.

“Glan!” he shouts, “Sandpit! Glan! Hurray!”

This gets the day off to a good start. I explain that we will have breakfast and then get in the car to drive to Gran’s house. We start on the breakfast straight away. The Toddler wants porridge. Then I get a text message from Gran to say that she is not feeling well. We reschedule for Thursday.

For the rest of the day, every time we get in the car the Toddler exclaims: “Glan!” and I have to explain again that Gran is not well (“ziek”, in Dutch) and that we’ll see her another day.

Parenting lesson learned: do not get your child excited about outings until you are sure they are happening.

We take the opportunity to go to the Salvation Army playgroup instead, which the Toddler always loves. He is sitting proudly in his buggy and the baby is strapped to my chest. We wander slowly down the road in the warm autumn sunshine, enjoying the day. At the playgroup, the Baby obligingly sleeps in a bouncy chair for the duration while the Toddler eats his body weight in Rice Krispies and finds vehicles to play with. But uncharacteristically, he comes up to me after an hour and says: “Mummy, home. House. Daddy car. Home. Daddy.” I tell him that Daddy is at work. More disappointment. He plays a little more but keeps coming back to me with similar stories. I decide perhaps it is time we went home.

He wants to walk home and push the buggy himself. He stops on the way to examine his surroundings. “Blaadjes!” [Leaves!] he exclaims, and starts collecting Important Leaves to take home. I explain about the seasons and how the leaves fall off the trees. He stares up at a bare tree and lets out a heartfelt “Oh dear!” I quickly explain that the tree will get new leaves in spring. This seems to make things a little better.

I put him in bed for a nap almost straight away and feed the baby, hoping she will also have a sleep so I can have a nap myself. She spends the next two hours dropping off for just long enough for me to install myself on the sofa with my fleecy blanket, only to wake up again crying ten minutes later. I give up after five false starts and watch home improvement programs instead.

When the Toddler wakes up I realise we must get birthday presents for the two parties he has been invited to later in the week. As there is still the dentist appointment at 4.30pm I decide the supermarket is the perfect gift shopping location. Given how long everything takes with two small people in tow, we set off immediately and get to the supermarket at 3.15.

By 3.45 we are parked outside the dentist’s. Woops. Also, a familiar smell starts to pervade the car and the Baby starts crying. I inspect her quickly to confirm that it is a major nappy emergency, and there is no time to go home to deal with it. So to kill time and hopefully deal with the nappy, I decide to drive to a nearby friend’s house to see if she is home and I can quickly change the baby there. Worth a try, I think, everything to gain and nothing to lose.

As I pull up, the Toddler recognises the house as that of his new friend Rebecca and exclaims: “Becca!!” Uh oh. I tell him I’m just going to check if Becca is home. It turns out the whole family is on their way out the door to an important meeting at school. I tell the Toddler that his friend was out but we’ll see her soon. He squeaks in protest and wails: “Becca! Becca!”

Parenting lesson learned: Phone ahead. From a decent distance. It is not only sensible but also just polite. And also: children are smarter than you think.  Who would have thought he would recognise the house after only about three visits?

We end up in the dentist’s waiting room. I change a crying baby on some paper towels on their beautiful blue suede sofa while the Toddler pulls all the plastic cups out of the water cooler, counts them, makes Teddy drink from them and then kindly puts them back for future unsuspecting patients to use. The dentist is standing by the reception desk watching me wrestle and when the Baby is dressed again he says: “Are you ready?”

“No!” I want to shout! “I am not ready for motherhood! I used to have a nine to five job that I could close the door on at the end of the day! And my clothes didn’t get covered in sick or poo!” But I think he meant for the appointment, so we go in.

The Toddler thinks the dentist’s chair makes a brilliant slide and is also quite happy for him to have a look at his teeth. At least that bit was easy. When we get back in the car and I drive off with a sigh of relief, a small sad voice from the back seat says: “Glan ziek [poorly]. Becca not home.”

That evening I tuck him up in bed and read him Maisy’s bus. He reads along using his Monster Voice. At 10pm the baby is finally settled for the night as well. Time for that nap – although I guess technically at this time of day it is just called sleep.

Plan for tomorrow: Have Baby weighed. Visit Gran. Don’t tell Toddler until we are actually in the car on our way there.

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