Sunday, 12 December 2010

Catching up...

A meeting with an old chum was something that I’d been eagerly anticipating ever since we’d finally synchronised our full-to-bursting diaries, and we’d managed to select a time and date which suited us both.

The last time I’d seen Louise was as a student at University a couple of years ago. Since those heady days of Marxism lectures and debates on globalization, she’d gained a new title, and alongside the award of BA Honours, she’s now proudly sporting the accolade of mother.

We’d selected a time slot to coincide with her little darling’s morning at nursery, to enable us to be reacquainted over girlie chat and a cappuccino, to be followed by a leisurely stroll around Debenhams’ ladies fashions department.

On the day itself, I’d arrived unfashionably early in order to welcome my pal at the pre-arranged meeting point…. just yards from a coffee shop and within arms reach of Debenhams. Unfortunately, something had evidently gone horribly wrong with our plans, as I suddenly caught sight of my friend, looking terribly flummoxed, pushing what appeared to be a jumble sale on wheels. On closer inspection, it was her gigantic Mamas and Papas pushchair, laden with child-related paraphernalia. It transpired that the nursery had closed due to a water leak, and Louise had no choice but to bring her offspring along to our reunion. Say hello to Tyler.

This morning was never going to end well. Doomed from the very beginning, I was unable to start, let alone finish, a sentence, without Tyler’s fraught mother apologising profusely, while clearly lying through gritted teeth that “He’s not normally like this!”

For those of you blissfully unaware of the joys of rearing children, when a toddler does not wish to co-operate, no amount of gentle coaxing, empty threats or outrageous bribery will make his little cast-iron body bend, and so any quaint notions of strapping him securely into his buggy fly swiftly out of the nearest open window.

Louise had clearly treated the Costa Coffee staff to Tyler’s presence on at least one previous occasion, as the polite, pony-tailed girl behind the counter appeared to be particularly adept at lip reading our order, despite the ear-splitting screams coming from the nappy-clad thug, now clinging onto his mother’s leg so tightly she had no choice but to propel her mobile rummage sale to the nearest available table, wearing her ridiculous new child-shaped boot.

I appear to have turned into a Victorian, now firmly believing that little children should be seen and not heard, although in Tyler’s case, seeing him burying his podgy little finger deep into his nostril cavity, and then watch him happily munching on the contents, was like witnessing car-crash. You instinctively know what’s coming, but you simply can’t avert your gaze. That’s something nobody ever needs to see.

It’s been many years since my own brood were small, however, in all honesty I can’t ever remember them being quite so rambunctious. Maybe I was simply immune to it at the time, overflowing with post-natal hormones, rendering me oblivious to my immediate surroundings. Unfortunately I no longer impervious to the earache acquired after five minutes of Tyler’s tonsil-trembling episodes, and I can feel my nerves beginning to fray.

The pocket-sized noise-machine would clearly have preferred to be at his beloved nursery, rather than stuck with two boring old farts who were unlikely to provide him with the full-on entertainment schedule that he had been expecting when he first woke up this morning……. but unfortunately we can’t always have what we want, can we? I would also have preferred it if he had been safely locked up in his play dough prison, but neither of us was getting what we wanted, and therefore, as a compromise was looking highly unlikely, it was up to me to simply tolerate his insufferable behaviour for the sake of his frazzled mother.

Luckily, the middle-aged gentleman on the opposite table, who had until now been attempting to read his Daily Telegraph by trying to ignore the racket coming from our side of the room, ducked just in time to avoid being viciously assaulted by a flying saucer, courtesy of Tyler’s apparently recently-acquired frisbee skills.

Louise, in a desperate but unsuccessful attempt to put a positive slant on the whole fiasco, commented “He never actually hits anyone”. Well, I’m sure the man with the angry face will be cheered up no end by that fact.

I can’t imagine why, but I suddenly lost all interest in my scone once the little hooligan began to spit chewed up bits of sausage roll all over the floor. Maybe they’re not as tasty as bogeys.

When Louise announced that she needed to go off and change her son, for one fleeting moment I rather hoped that she meant she was about to trade him in for a quieter model, however, in reality she simply needed to deal with a toileting issue.

I took full advantage of the fact that I was now all alone at the table, and rummaged about in my bag for my Nokia 3210. I acknowledge it wasn’t a particularly nice trick to play on my very dear friend, however, needs must, and I set the alarm to beep in ten minutes time. The alarm on my phone is conveniently identical to the text alert, and so my escape plan was now in place.

Call me callous, but I simply couldn’t stomach the idea of browsing the clothing department in Debenhams with an out of control toddler in tow.

My buddy duly returned, along with her mini ASBO, and peace was shattered once again as Tyler made his presence felt once more. As if by magic, ahem, my mobile beeped me. Wearing my best disappointed face, I sadly announced to my friend that I’d just received a text from my other half, telling me that he was already parked up in town and was waiting to take me back home. Oh what a terrible shame. That’s typical of a man to turn up early, just when I was enjoying myself so much!

I must admit to a few pangs of guilt when my coffee companion seemed genuinely disappointed at my premature departure, however, I thanked her for the lovely time I’d had, and we made a pact to keep in touch.

I would’ve said ‘bye bye’ to half-pint, but he was a tad pre-occupied, spread eagled on the cafĂ© floor, wailing like a banshee, so I decided that it was best to simply let him to get on with it. 

And with that, I walked out of the door towards the nearest bus stop, safe in the knowledge that the next time I chat to Louise my ears won’t bleed and my nerves will remain intact. Don’t you just love email?

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