A few weeks back, Eva got her mitts on a Micro Scooter. It was lent to her for a few precious minutes by a chatty four year old at Phillips Memorial Park. There were longing looks from Eva when the two were separated (…towards the sweet little boy? Hell, no: towards the scooter), so my immediate impulse was to rush out and buy one…. until I wondered if this might be another case of ‘Somebody Elses’s Chips’.
You know how it goes.. you’re on a night out and someone offers you a chip.
‘Dear Gawd!’, you think. ‘This chip is amazing! How have I underestimated the awesomeness of chips all this time? I must be some sort of closet Chippist!’ So off you rush to buy your own bumper bag and pay chips their due …at which point they suddenly revert to being just another claggy bag of grease you can’t wait to jettison into the nearest bin [Top tip: this works with crisps, too, if you’re thinking of trying it].
Anyway… I put out a call to my Mum friends to borrow a scooter, excited to think I might have her birthday present nailed. As is the way in The World of Mums, people tripped over themselves to help – we Muvvas got each other’s backs, y’all! – and I found myself whisking one out for a trial in no time.
Admittedly things had already shown signs of going A Bit Toddler as we left the house to pick it up, with Eva deciding she was an independent woman who must be left well alone to fall down our porch stairs in the style and moment of her own choosing (that’s the last time I let her listen to Beyonce). Once we’d sorted this out – in the highly responsible manner of me basically retreating backwards down the stairs, arms open and ready in a desperate ‘catch’ pose – we grabbed the scooter and headed over to Woodbridge Cafe.
This is where the big mistake of the day happened: ie: filling a hyperactive toddler and a cold-addled 40-something mum with large amounts of florescent pink Crusha milkshake. You know, the properly Wrong 1980s stuff you only really get in greasy spoons now that everywhere else is a Shakeaway franchise. It meant that by the time we hit the house with the vague plan of Nap Time, my cold had evolved into a massive e-number headache fit to explode my eyeballs, and Eva was ready to paaaartaaaay! So much for my lofty plans to wash the bed sheets and write a blog post. We donned our waterproofs and headed out to put the scooter through its paces.
Things started promisingly enough. Eva waddled up to the scooter with enthusiasm and climbed on board. She immediately fell off, of course, but returned for a second bout undeterred because she is nails…and probably well used to my ineffectual attempts to prevent this sort of accident by now.
Then, just as she looked set to ‘get it’, she spotted a puddle and lost a good ten minutes chucking our driveway gravel into it, one stone at a time.
‘Eva, look at Me!’ I cried encouragingly, taking my life into my hands to demonstrate some smooth moves on the tiny, wobbly scooter.
‘Mummy Diddit!’, she said, handing me some gravel in a no-nonsense manner and guiding me back to the puddle.
Another five minutes escapes as we both meticulously throw gravel into the puddle piece by piece under her direction; then I try again, suggesting we walk to the park in what I hope are ‘rousing’ tones. So we start to wind our slow way up the road towards Jacobs Well – though haven’t got three steps before Eva spots a neighbour’s trampoline in their garden and looks waaay more thrilled by this than even the puddles. There is lots of loud exclaiming and pointing and protests as I suggest we move on before we are reported for loitering with bouncy intent.
By gentle coaxing, plenty more puddle-stops and an enforced detour up to a ledge to watch Slyfield traffic blasting diesel into the air (yes, lung doctors, read that and weep), we manage to progress about 500 meters up the road. This has taken us a mere twenty minutes. It’s around this point that Eva decides that holding hands is for losers so, ten minutes later I arrived at the playground already knackered , a mess of wriggling, complaining Child and non-foldable Scooter clutched precariously in my arms.
My head is pounding by now, but I’m determined to give the scooter its best chance of lurve and acceptance by riding it in circles on the smooth ground near the roundabout. Surely a tempting demo for any tot, right? Wrong. I look up from these acrobatics to discover Eva is somehow halfway up the ladder to the large climbing frame, looking way more precarious than even I look on the scooter. How has she picked this, of all moments, to make this alarming climbing breakthrough?? It’s like they know! I drop the scooter and run over to help.
So we do the circuit: slide, seesaw, swing, the other swing, a pointed look at the park bench where we usually have a snack (..which I’ve failed to bring assuming our florescent 80s lunch will power us both to infinity and beyond). Intermittently I nip back to the scooter and make encouraging noises which are roundly ignored.
There’s a funny little swing in Jacob’s Well’s little park, a mutant looking thing that fits a small child in one side, and an adult opposite, to power it along. It’s a great idea, but it’s currently very wet. So obviously Eva again insists that.. ‘Mummy diddit!’
‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, all very well for you to suggest when you’re the one with the waterproof trousers, Kiddo!’
She lets out a gale of raucous laughter as I clamber awkwardly on to the soaking seat in my paper-thin trousers. Apparently smearing my groin with scooter wheel dirt carrying us here isn’t enough; she wont be satisfied until I’ve walked down the street during rush hour looking like I have the world’s weakest pelvic floor (which, to be fair, I probably do).
The sun is setting as we swing, so I finally admit defeat and suggest we go home for tea. Eva looks lively at this suggestion, though about ten seconds later decides it’s time for that nap she missed earlier. So up the road I slog, a lolling, thumb-sucking bundle in both arms, the scooter hooked wherever I can fit it, pausing to change position about every ten steps and cursing myself for leaving the sling at home. My back is getting too old for this sort of carry-on. On the upside, at least I’m way past caring what any passing motorist might think about the current state of my arse.
We make it back in one piece, though naturally there are cries of dismay when the unwanted scooter is relegated to the car boot because: Toddler.
Later, as Eva is shredding her tortilla wrap supper into ticker-tape and wearing it on her thumbs, I wonder if wanting children in the first place is a bit like the Somebody Else’s Chips thing. A longing look at a friend’s offspring, a fantasy about cuddling a baby.. then suddenly *BAM*, before you know it, you’re trying to stop a screaming toddler throwing themselves into a busy road and wondering if you brought enough nappies to have the next poonami covered. And, oh God, you’re full to bursting, but this is one cone of chips you definitely can’t throw in the bin.
But even before I’ve finished asking myself the question, I know the answer: that any amount of toddler weight-lifting is worth the moment when that small head rests against mine as she dozes in my arms. That I’d lug twenty bleedin’ scooters to Cornwall and back just to see her delight at dropping a single stone into a muddy puddle.
Yep, feel free to roll your eyes, because all those cliches are true. Sure, there are moments when you must avert your face and grit your teeth to avoid dropping a loud cuss in public. And yep, there are times when the day ends with your arms achier and your bum wetter than you could have ever imagined. But small a child is that rarest of things: completely exhausting, yet utterly worth it.
Eva gives me a winning smile and upends a mess of half-eaten houmous onto her head, along with the plate.
‘I a hat!’, she declares, brightly.
You got me, Kiddo. My appetite for these chips is here to stay.