Just before Christmas my wife and I had a chance to perform some grandparental duties – a real pleasure, as I’m sure every grandparent will agree. Usually my wife and I carry out our tasks together (with one exception – I have never been awfully good at dealing with the rear end, besides my wife is so skilled at the job it would be a shame to expect her to delegate). However on this occasion Granny was busy and I volunteered to take Hector for a walk on Clapham Common. It was a fine day and the aim was to feed the ducks and visit a playgound. Heckie happily allowed me to put on his coat and boots, and together we found some bread and put it into a bag.
I became very self-conscious and aware that every pushchair driver in sight was looking at us critically and disdainfully.
Properly and safely strapped into the McLaren (I’ve been ticked off for my lack of vigilance in the past) we set off. It is a lovely experience pushing a two-year-old like Heckie because he is so interested in everything around him – cars, bikes, other pedestrians, buses – oh and puddles and leaves. Our journey to the common was interrupted from time to time by a demand to stop, disembark the McLaren and splash through a puddle or stamp and kick through a pile of leaves. It was becoming increasingly challenging to persuade him to get back in and resume the journey, though. I became very self-conscious and aware that every pushchair driver in sight was looking at us critically and disdainfully. I tried various bribes (sotto voce as I’m sure they wouldn’t be well received by the Clapham mothers/ nannies within earshot), ducks, playground, ice cream etc but in the end the one that worked was ‘Bubba (that’s what he calls me) could buy you a lollipop’.
Immediately Heckie got back in and fully co-operated with being strapped into the McLaren saying ‘Oypop’ over and over again. We headed for the shops that border the common – it was a good opportunity for me to buy a Telegraph and I hoped that by the time we arrived Heckie would have forgotten all about oypops Not a bit of it. As we waited in the queue for the checkout for me a to pay for my paper, Heckie spotted a sizable and disgracefully obvious display all waiting to be sucked and enjoyed, by amongst others, two-year-old toddlers. What choice did I have?
Once out of the shop, lollipop firmly clamped in Heckie’s mouth, all was quiet the whole journey back home – all he said was ‘dank you Bubba’.
Now for the tricky bit, I thought…. Explaining myself to my daughter. I’m afraid I bottled it and pushed Hector around the neighbouring streets until only the lolly stick remained.