Saturday, 20 January 2007

To the big city

I'm going to London. I'm terrified. I'm a girl from the shires. It's a big city. There's no-one to hold my hand. I usually hold hands, with six year olds, and am in control. Of things like odd wellington boots, pink coats, artwork from the craft sessions, tins of tomatoes from Tesco, Squirrel's knickers for the laundry, the kitchen brush. And when I'm working in the office I'm hiding. I don't have to speak to the argumentative authors whose books I set. I just sit here and grumble at the screen, and slam the keyboard hard. I've worn off the letters e r t u i o a h n. In fact I have sticky labels cut out and stuck over them now with the letters written on in felt tip.

And I'm going without children. They are going to be looked after by Dig. He's never had sole control of them through teatime, bedtime, breakfast. Ever. Because I've never been away from them. From Shark, once, when she was in hospital. We were staying with Uncle Diesel who's a bachelor boy, so children are like aliens to him. Especially children with nappies and needs. He gets up at 4am too, driving through the night in a lorry, so he couldn't look after Squirrel and Tiger. Anyway, his idea of how you get children to sleep is to say 'If you go to sleep I'll give you a KitKat.'

In preparation for my Big Trip, I've done the laundry, two loads, and I've swept the floor. I'm making vegetable stew before I go, so it can be eaten for lunch and reheated later. I've loaded, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher. Dig does not do dishwashers. He can hardwire a computer and install a central heating system but he cannot put plates in a dishwasher and then press the button that reads, in bright scarlet letters, 'ON'.

I'm going to be away until tomorrow. All night. I am worried about Shark's goodnight kiss. So I have enclosed a little cuddly dolphin in an envelope for Dig to give her at bedtime. I know this will send cries of 'it's not fair' all round, so I've made envelopes for the other two as well. Squirrel has a lion and Tiger has a woodpecker. I also know that giving them these things before bedtime is the equivalent of saying, 'If you go to sleep I'll give you a KitKat.'

Now my bag is packed and I'm ready to go. Can they survive the night?

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