If I’m wrong and actually there is an afterlife, and if whoever it is that makes these decisions focuses on my moral mistakes and not the fact that I Really Do Mean Well Most of the Time, Honest, my eternal damnation will be taking place in a Children’s Farm Park Activity Attraction on a Bank Holiday Sunday.
Mea culpa. I made everybody get up, get dressed and leave the house early. It was my idea to go on a family outing when Pickle really wanted to go back to bed and Ziggler wanted to stay at home and watch Dora the Explorer on loop. Trulove and I had stayed up late painting the bathroom (because it is the only time you can do these things with small children hanging about and because we know how to party hard on a BH weekend) so we were both knackered. Basically, retrospectively, it was a very Bad Idea. Did I mention that it was 4°c and raining? We did it anyway.
Turns out I was not in a… erm.. let’s say coping kind of mood. I didn’t cope very well with queueing in traffic through various scruffy South West London High Streets. I didn’t cope all that well when we arrived at the Farm Park and the first overflow car park was already full so we were marshalled to the second (already two thirds full). I’ve documented before how I cope with soft play, an essential feature of the modern Farm Activity Experience. I did not have very much patience for Ziggler when she descended into heart-breaking and inconsolable sobs because somebody else was on the pink trampoline. I found it a bit depressing that all the other children at the farm wore rainjackets from Jo Jo Maman Bebe (as did ours), their parents pushed red Phil and Ted’s 2 seater pushchairs (as did we), and they spoke to their children in fake-enthiusiastic, high pitched please-don’t-have-a-tantrum voices (yup, we did too). There were style-conscious mums in boots and padded gilets – a look I am too fat for or I’m sure I would’ve embraced – and beardy dads with fashionable hats (we were in anoraks and our hair had flecks of mould-proof paint in it). I quite honestly nearly lost my biscuits in the Battle To Get A Table at Lunch as Ziggler and Pickle and I roamed around like orphans trying to find somewhere to sit and Trulove battled his way through indecisive parents to forage from the sandwich cabinet. I had as near to a cat fight as middle class mothers of toddlers ever get with a lady with THREE children (patronising smile) who told me we couldn’t sit where we were about to sit as there was a queue and we had just jumped it. But I honestly couldn’t SEE the queue and I was sure we had been there longer than anyone else in the universe and I don’t cope very well with places with systems which is why I never frequent Starbucks or Subway and eventually our combined politely-smiling passive-aggression was beginning to trigger the ringing in my ears that signifies a hulk-like paddy, so I backed down and we went to eat our lunch in a shed. Oh, ok, it was a barn not a shed but it did have damp blasts of wind blowing through it.
Despite all this, the day did have some high points. Pickle thought the sheep were hilarious and fearlessly stuck her hands in their pens to feed them. The lambs and kids (of the goat variety) were adorable, and the snuffly piglets made me feel broody for about a quarter of a second. When Ziggler was not wailing with grief over the colour of her ‘ampuline’, or hysterically panicking that Pickle was about to be eaten by a small goat, she was glowing with the joy of seeing real-life horsies in a real-life field. Trulove was stoic and somehow managed not to let a single moan about the day pass his lips, and didn’t even get irritated with my close shave with a mental breakdown at lunch.
There was one thing, near the end of the day, that Ziggler and Pickle spent ten minutes playing together on in happy accord. Trulove and I were drinking tea. Everyone was happy. The sun came out for a while. After spending a bajillion pounds, a few million nerve-endings and an hour and a half on the A23 in the rain, I’m sure if the girls remember anything about May Bank Holiday 2012 it will be that particularly entertaining speed-bump at the exit to the farmyard.
Expectations, Vickola. Expectations.