My parents were adamant that we do something ‘for the children’ today. They wanted to treat them to a day out somewhere fun… The weather was not kind. The fine rain we call ‘moor grime’ was constant and it was windy and foggy as well.
‘Can we go to the beach?’
No. No way, not going to happen. ‘Not today love.’ Dad had a rotten cold and a Lemsip glaze in his eyes, it said ‘Wherever we’re going, get me a chair.’
My husband and I shared a weary look, we knew. The options were limited and likely traumatic: soft play was the most favourable crowd pleaser for all 3 children, and they sold semi decent coffee.
‘Are you ready to have fun guys?!’ Erm… Possibly? (‘Why? Have you built a bar?!’ was what I really meant) with all 3 children swinging on the stretchy-tape-queue-divider and screaming in some kind of Hitchcock style slasher scene – I think she probably didn’t need to ask that question – but she was wearing a psychedelic orange t shirt and grin to match, so I expect we fitted right in.
‘Don’t forget… The Halloween disco is from 1-3pm. It’s going to be keraaazy!.’ You have no idea, love.
First job – toilet trip for the toddler. Puddles happen in soft play, undoubtedly. I didn’t want it to be on my watch. Within 30 seconds, she’d banged her head on the toilet door, told a lady to ‘STOP TALKING SO LOUD!’ And refused to wash her hands: cue forced hand dunking and ensuing shrieks.
She was so upset with me she refused to join the disco opening. Big boy was also refusing to take part. He loves to dance, totally gets thrown into the act and has a style not dissimilar to a break-dancing Morris dancer on some kind of psychotic drugs. Unfortunately this gets some ‘interesting’ reactions and means he’s often crippled with shyness. Thankfully he wasn’t screaming his head off and telling everyone who asked that he wasn’t joining in because of ‘her’. Little one? Elbows out, dancing feet on, bopping away to Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ before we could even get her coat off. Children four times her size were waiting their turn patiently in the entrance whilst she jealously guarded the doorway like some teething, dribbling bouncer barking ‘SIT DOOOOOWWWWN’ in her Scottish accent (I’m from Yorkshire, my husband’s from Devon: I genuinely don’t know why she sounds like Billy Connelly).
Lunch revived them, slides (tick on the This time next week list) , ball pools and hilarious dad helped too. My dad was bearing up well, mum was loving it, slowly but surely the boy starting raving with his baby sis – DJ Disaster quickly recognised his talents and threw a consolatory bag of sweets to the child he clearly thought was suffering some kind of episode. Even our toddler relented and came to sit with us, weeping only when I looked at her, furiously folding her arms so not an inch of hand could be seen, should I take it upon myself to force her to wash them again.
DJ Disaster was in fine form, mentioning approximately every 30 seconds that he was ‘Here all week folks!’ Between various unfathomable communications through the microphone, he suddenly gained perfect clarity the moment I took off my cardigan and proclaimed to all and sundry that ‘One mum is so excited she can’t keep her clothes on!’: death stare for DJ Disaster.
The rest of the disco was an enormous success, well attended, but not overrun – possibly because my youngest was so dedicated in her protection of the entrance that many kids gave up trying to enter/leave. DJ Disaster amused the children, made my eldest daughter’s year by organising a girls vs boys sing-off of Let It Go (she refrained from ‘the arms’) and made an enemy of my mother for all of eternity. ‘Ladies and gents here’s the oldest swinger in town!’: mega death stare with arsenic on top (well, clearly I inherited the ability to wither with a glance from somewhere!)
Only when we left with 3 exhausted children and one semi conscious flu ridden grandad, did I dare congratulate us on a successful, happy day out. My dad told me he felt such pride and happiness to see the children playing so nicely and enjoying themselves together for such a long period of time in harmony…
That’s what overdosing on cold and flu medication will do for you kids – just say no!