I saw a friend on Tuesday evening; she said: 'So... two things happened today...' I asked her to write it all down and share it:
I keep waiting for the moment, like in a new job, when I feel I have cracked this little job called parenting.
The other day my two-year-old locked herself in our new-ish car. I say locked herself because that’s exactly what happened – she waited for the exact right moment and having wiggled out of her car-seat (courtesy of four-year-old accomplice), crawled through the gap between the front seats, pressing the all-lock button as she went.
I watched, dry throated, as the windows all shut too.
The keys were in the ignition and I was locked out of the house with the four-year-old.
We banged on the windows, gesticulating dramatically while Issy selected the CDs she had been waiting to listen to, unencumbered by other passengers' chatter. She appeared to be laughing at us.
Having locked myself out on previous occasions I have a spare key with a neighbour so we did manage to get into our house and find the spare car-keys.
Phew. I pressed the button but no ‘plip’ – the keys in the ignition obviously override any exterior instructions. My heart began to beat faster – we were now in an official pickle.
Back, more comfortable, in her own car-seat Issy was still smiling along to the music.
Inspired I rang the dealership from where I had proudly driven my car months earlier.
Spluttering over my words, I explained to the nice man on the end of the line my predicament.
“Have you tried using the key in the lock?” he asked calmly.
Embarrassed, I realised how quickly I had forgotten the purpose of an actual key. Of course it worked, the door opened and Issy’s face fell. Her game was over.
“Thank you,” I said to the man.
“Is there anything else I can help you with today?” he professionally followed up.
“Well there is this matter of trying to lose a bit of weight…” I ventured, having regained my sense of humour.
“That, madam, I can’t help you with,” he cheerfully replied.
While I recovered from this frantic half-hour (it had taken a while for my neighbour’s husband to find our key) and made myself a cup of tea I let both girls play in their room. I reconstructed Isabel’s opportunistic strike in my mind, and convinced myself she had been planning it for weeks – she loves the car, and being in it unrestrained.
Tea made I realised how quiet things had got – rarely a good sign.
As I turned the corner into our bedroom I saw Bethan in the process of bathing her little sister, quite well as it happens.
Of course my mind ran into over-ride – scalding, drowning or perhaps, worst of all, hypothermia.
“It’s OK Mum,” Bethan said, “I didn’t let Issy use the hot tap.”
Having calmly pulled the plug and explained in controlled tones the potential to drown in 3 inches of water (or is it less?) I let Bethan get her sister out of the bath and put a nappy on her (the bit I dread most).
I felt defeated and like I'd failed but at least it was nearly the end of my shift.