Taking the three sons, aged 6, 3 and 1 to town is an act of martyrdom, and I’m no saint. Sometimes, however it is unavoidable. When called upon to mount such a campaign as a trip to town, I make it into a bit of an adventure, a treat, a slow meander with a list of jobs to do at their pace.
Friday, we had to go to the cobblers, the bank, the fish shop with the trip to the cafe dangling on the end of the stick as a motivation to behave. And while it is not something I want to make of an everyday, a trip to town with these little boys is not altogether unpleasant.
You wouldn’t want to be tired, complaisant or in a hurry. You need your wits about you and a fail safe exit plan should the whole operation fall apart. You have to time it well. Long enough to get your work done, short enough for the little people not to become tired or bored. Not bored, certainly, not bored.
Like the puppeteer about her little puppets, you add a narration, most probably annoying to others but essential to keeping the show on the road or off the road as it were.
‘We’ll just go to the cobblers now. (In mind head, I’m wandering if that is somehow un-PC?)’
You explain the concept, enlist their help paying the shoe-maker (worse?), putting the shoes in the basket, waving goodbye.
They must continue to hold the buggy around the remaining shops and if they’re very good, we’ll pass the toy shop to look in the window. Six months to Christmas means nothing to these boys as they calculate the risks of getting such a toy against the good/naughty boy barometer.
Time on our side, they have the freedom to run around the big town square safely before making it to the cafe for our treat and coffee to keep mother quiet. The cafe is set up for mothers and their children and so I watch as they play with toys and other children before suiting up again for the walk back to the car-park.
All the time narrating, mind the lady, onto the footpath, we’ll cross the road here, you push the button, we’ll wait. Then, waiting, a lovely older lady appeared by my side and with the gentlest touch of my hand and kind eyes told me quietly that I had my ‘hands full.’ I hear it a lot, it’s the Irish way of saying, mothering here doesn’t go unnoticed. You have your hands full. I heard these words from the angel lady at the pedestrian crossing who had the look of someone who really understood and her words meant more.
I thanked her, may have shook my head at her knowing smile and crossed the road with my little boys.
To the car, they hold the buggy, by my side, while I get the ticket. ‘You press the button for the elevator. Do you remember where we left the car? I know you’re all getting tired, but we’ll be home soon, you were such great boys today.’