I have very little of note to say about Friday with the exception of this: never go out on your own with more than one toddler and no restraining devices.
It started out a normal sort of a Friday with a date to meet a friend and her son at Barnes Wetland Centre This is arguably one of the most unexpected places in the capital, a large area of wetlands offering home to frogs and newts and insects and birdlife and people pointing large telescopes into bushes. It also has a café and a great playground; it is Barnes, after all.
My friend and I were planning on a leisurely stroll followed by a sit-down in the playground topped off with a light lunch. We've done it before, same place, same offspring; it wasn't much of a stretch and we'd have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for those pesky kids.
The day before we were due to go I had an email asking if I could look after the spud's best friend for a couple of hours so I offered to take her with us, I mean, she's sweet, well behaved, easy! Ha. Plus, I thought, there would be two adults and my friend's older and more responsible son... however early on he hared off so that all I saw of my friend was the flash of her tail-feathers through some reeds.
It all went pretty well until we tried to leave the playground. My friend was in one corner bribing her son and I was left shouting into the play tunnels at what I thought may be my charges. After several minutes chasing, several more begging and a few seconds of ineffectual threats (harried Mum: "There'll be no lunch!" Two-headed toddler monster "Yay!") I pretended to leave without them. This got them as far as the gate where the spud burst into tears. An amused park worker turned to them and said 'Don't worry, your Mummy is right there' where-upon Charlie's friend stated 'That's not MY Mummy, that's Charlie's Mummy' and suddenly he was demanding to know where her Mummy was. I solved the entire mess by hoisting her up and shouting 'she's with us' over my shoulder leaving the poor spud to run beside me hanging onto my leg.
There's a loo outside the gate and I made the key error of asking if they needed it. Clearly, although my friend's older boy was happily going in, this was a massive insult and the threat of having to do a wee meant more tears and a sit-down from the spud which I subverted by putting down his friend and and carrying him instead, not my first choice as he is easily twice as heavy as she.
Twenty feet on he had to do a wee RIGHT NOW. I gathered them into a bush and was about to yank down his trousers when 20 school children rounded the bend. He grabbed his trousers and shouted 'No wee-wee!!' in terror and we huddled silently together until they were gone, where-upon the spud did his wee-wee to the vast interest of his friend who doens't have a willy and did a lot of pointing. By this point my friend had caught up, overtaken us and was headed into the distance after her rapidly-disappearing son.
The spud and his friend were now locked into battle as to who would get a carry and who would drag their feet and whinge. It was pretty dire. We'd gone 30 feet in 20 minutes and frankly, I was about ready to throw myself on the ground beside them and wait for my own Mother to arrive.
Thank God for packets of raisins, is all I have to say.
Lunch was a many splendoured thing, not least because by the time I got them both through the café and sat down at a table the sun was shining and we were all so tired that we just sat there chewing and smiling at each other, no shouting and apart from some chair-standing, no protests, no tears. Just sitting, followed shortly by the sound of them both snoring gently in their car-seats while I drove them home in the blissful silence.