At the weekend, Betty and I were having a look around the Farmer's market in the middle of town whilst Tom scuttled off to some pretentious bookshop he loves. I was feeling proud to be with my daughter, walking around hand in hand in a relaxed manner, with none of the usual forceful ushering into Abbey Building Society or the cathedral.
Betty was doing some olive tasting at a stall when she clocked a merry-go-round and dragged me towards it squealing ‘Boat Boat Betty’. She has never been on one of these children’s rides before and I was nervous about letting her go on, for fear that she would get bored half way round and carry out some precarious acrobatics to launch herself off the ride. However, she was so eager, I decided to give it a go, so I paid the money and placed her in the boat. She confidently took the wheel and then patted the seat next to her and said ‘Mummy’. I loved her for thinking that I could feasibly fit into the miniature seat, and before I had a chance to try to explain to her that I was probably 25 times too big, the ride started and she was off. And it was a moment I would’ve frozen forever if I could have. I have never ever seen such a look of absolute euphoria on Betty’s little face. Judging by her expression it was the best thing that had ever happened to her by far. I only wished Tom would hurry up in his musty bookshop and come and witness it too.
The ride stopped and the look of disappointment on Betty’s face was almost unbearable. I tried to lift her out of the boat but she clung onto the steering wheel with her vice-like grip. Using the same tactic I employ when I am trying to get her to leave nursery, I discreetly whispered into her ear that if she came with me I would give her a treat. The talk of treats distracted her long enough for me to get her out of the boat and into the Woolworths across the road, for me (I am ashamed to admit) to say one final goodbye. Once safely inside the shop, I produced a chocolate coin - something I have in infinite supply - and handed it to Betty. But Betty refused the chocolate and looked me straight in the eyes with real sincerity, trying to bravely fight back the tears, and said ‘Boat. Pleeeeeeeeeeeease. Pleeeeeease.’ (very clever persuasive tactics she has learnt from the Little Princess cartoon).
Knowing that he would probably find me mournfully lurking in Woolies somewhere, Tom appeared at this point, sheepishly clutching some dull new book. Betty promptly began directing her pleading at him instead, while I went off to have one last go on the pick ‘n’ mix.