Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Fault is not in the Stars

Despair at the horror of half-term last week made me forget my cardinal parenting rule:  never go anywhere in the car with the children if it takes longer than ten minutes half an hour.  And so it was that I found myself packing up the car last week to visit my friend H, mother of the Boy’s separated-at-birth-twin, Jack, in deepest Hampshire. 

The lawyer in me had to cover every eventuality: what if we get stuck there? (pjs and toothbrushes.  JUST IN CASE);  what if the weather is fabulous? (t-shirts.  Shorts.  YOU NEVER KNOW);  what if it snows (Snowboots;  puffa jackets;  thermals.  Standard UK spring-wear);  what if they fall in the mud (spare trousers);  what if they’re sick in the car? (big towel, lots of wipes); what if the boys want to play swords? (Swords); etc. And so it was that we left an hour later than planned, with a MUCH fuller car than planned.  7 minutes later, we were in the Asda carpark, with me muttering under my breath, while I untied the kids and ushered them into the toilet.  Bastarding Asda toilets are located past the toy section, rendering me both poorer (cash) and richer (swearing).  An hour and 40 minutes later, we were ON OUR WAY.

The whining started almost immediately.  “I sick”, announced the Girl.  “No, I’M sick”, countered the Boy.  This ping-pong whinging went on and on, until eventually I could stand it no longer, roaring “IF ANYONE IS SICK HERE IT IS M...”  before being rudely interrupted by the Girl vomiting all over her seat.  So I guess she was a bit sick, after all.  Just as she was belting out a second round of quasi-digested bagel, while I was in the middle of barking instructions at the Boy (“The towel! The TOWEL!!! GIVE HER THE TOWEL!  The TOWEL AT YOUR FEET, put it UNDER HER NECK...”) I realised the thick bitch of a GPS woman was sending me the wrong way.  Two more sicks later I was able to stop, clean up and strip the Girl (fuck it, I forgot spare tops, but nothing nicer than spending the day in your PJs, no matter how old you are), and we were ON OUR WAY yet again.

3 minutes – I am not joking – later, the Boy piped up.  

“I need a wee-wee...”  

“You have GOT to be joking.”

“It’s not a joke, it’s not funny.  It HURTS.”

“You’ll just have to hold it in.”

“I CAN’T!  I’ve been holding it in for HOURS.  It HUUUUUURRRRTS!”

“Here, put this on” – rooting in my passenger-seat handbag, and handing him a nappy.  (A BIG nappy.  I am nothing if not a speedy learner re the importance of an adequately-sized nappy while mobile.)


“Yes, you.”

“Put it on myself?”



“Jeeesu... [deep breath] Just pull down your pants.  [glancing in mirror] TROUSERS FIRST.  Pull down your trousers then your pants.  Then just sit on the nappy and bring it up over your willy.  You KNOW how to do it.”

[glancing in mirror again]


I swear, it was like trying to talk a dog into a nappy. Eventually we both gave up, I pulled into a service station, he jumped out of the car, half naked (much to the amusement of the people eating their sandwiches at a picnic table - yes!  At a service station! Mind you it did have a lovely view of the motorway) and then pissed all over my boots. 

We got there, eventually. 

It was wonderful. It was probably the best day of parenting - the first four hours notwithstanding – I’ve ever had.  The boys fell into each other’s company shrieking with happiness and excitement, as they always do; the Girl followed them everywhere, wide-eyed and giddy with excitement (buoyed along by her crush on Jack).  Hand in hand they took exploring walks around the farm, followed dinosaur foot-prints over fields, rode ponies, mucked out stables – all with a teeny swagger of independence.  Because it transpires that the kids LOVE the countryside.  They were the happiest that day that I’ve ever seen them. 

As we left, the Girl looked up at the properly dark sky, pointed, and asked: “What’s dem?” 

“They’re stars, sweetheart.”

“Why we do not have ‘tars?”

“Because we live in London.”

“I want to live here.”

Me too, darling.  Me too.


  1. I TOLD you weeing in a diaper in a moving car is hard.

  2. Oh how I remember car journey's with young children! One of my boys needed a wee just as we were about to get in the car once, so I told him to just go up the wheel of the car not bearing the thought of having to go back inside - shame I later found out my neighbour saw the whole thing!!

  3. My brother lives in New York City and told me his daughter used to get excited to see "the star" they sometimes are able to view there. Milwaukee is not great for stars but we can at least make out basic constellations like Orion and the Big Dipper. One morning I happened to be outside in the summer at an unusual time (I think around 4 am?) and for some reason I could see many stars and they were brilliant, and my oldest daughter happened to be up to use the bathroom when I went in, and I told her to come outside with me. We stood in the middle of the deserted street and stared and stared. I'm still not sure what the difference was that particular morning that we could see so many stars, but I'm still grateful I got to share it with my daughter.

  4. You see, I live in deepest darkest Hampshire. AND my name begins with H. So, for a brief but glorious moment I thought you were coming to see ME. Next time, please. And I'll find you a house to live in whilst we're at it. Countryside (and stars) = lovely.