Whilst I was home over the summer holidays, an old friend of mine came out to The Mom’s with her two-year-old daughter. They came for a tea party and a swim and a general catch up. The Mom hadn’t seen my friend in a while and was looking forward to chatting. As was I. I had mentioned to The Mom that it would be very much appreciated if she could watch out for the two-year-old for an hour or so whilst my friend and I chatted.
Initially, The Mom agreed to this. But the closer the date became, the more nervous The Mom became.
“I don’t know about this,” she wrote to me in an email. “The house is basically a death trap.”
“S’fine,” I replied. “Take the child outside.”
“Outside could also be a death trap,” The Mom said. “Besides which, what if the child doesn’t walk?”
I emailed my friend and she assured me that her daughter was an accomplished walker. I relayed the information to The Mom.
“That’s no good,” The Mom replied. “What if she gets away from me?”
“What?” I replied. “Are you anticipating the child making a break for it under your watch? Like, are you imagining the child will take this as her best chance of running away from home?”
“Yes,” the Mom wrote. “And I’m not going to have that hanging over my head.”
The Mom, as I believe we are all well aware of, is prone to hysteria and drama of all kinds and is not afraid of letting her more ridiculous fantasies/nightmares get the better of her.
“Anyhow, we don’t have any of the right gear,” The Mom told me.
“Gear? What gear? It’s a child, not some kind of specialist farm equipment. If she needs gear, I expect such things will be brought along with.”
“I don’t know how I’m going to entertain her for a whole morning,” The Mom worried at me.
Increasingly frustrated, I began to lose all patience. “Look, it’s a two-year-old girl. I think you’ll be fine. It’s not like she’ll be expecting you to explain the crisis in Greece or why Donald Trump might be in with a chance. Just make a silly face at her.”
The Mom maintained that because it had been ages since she had been required to entertain and keep safe someone of such a young age that naturally she should not be asked to do it.
In the event, The Mom had a grand old time. She managed to entertain both the two- year-old and herself for most of the morning and early afternoon, though not on her own. Which I suppose I ought to have seen coming. It’s not so much that The Mom was trepidatious about her job, rather that she prefers doing these sorts of things with an audience. So as my pal and I tried to squeeze in enough chat to sustain us through the autumn and on to Christmas (which will be the next time we see each other), The Mom played with her daughter. She and the wee girl played with the canaries, Mrs Beeton the parakeet, and of course Poop-a-doodle. Now, you may be forgiven for having forgot about Poop-a-doodle, but let me remind you: this is a toy chicken that L’il Sis was given, that The Mom has taken control over, which shrieks, says a silly song, and then lays three eggs in quick succession. When The Mom first took this doll, for several weeks she insisted on demonstrating it to me on Skype, even after having been reminded that I’d seen it several times before.
In this way, The Mom and the two-year-old had rather a lot in common. I believe had I initially just suggested that The Mom and the little girl play with Poop-a-doodle for a few hours, The Mom would’ve just shrieked with delight and that would’ve been that.