This morning I decided to venture out to get coffee with my little ‘baby’ in tow. As this ‘baby’ is now twenty months old and this is the first time I’ve ever taken her out like this, I expect this makes me sound slightly pathetic. But let me explain. It’s not like I’ve never taken her anywhere. We regularly go to the library, the park, the shop etc it’s just I never found the concept of sitting having a coffee with my toddler particularly appealing (see previous posts for reasons I may feel this way!). But there is a fantastic coffee/lifestyle shop near where my parents live that has a little play area down the back where parents can ‘chill’ while watching their little folk play. This seemed like a splendid way to spend a rainy morning. I could relax and my little munchkin wouldn’t get bored after five seconds leaving me with two options – a. inhale hot coffee and scald the roof of my mouth or b. spend so much time trying to entertain her I ended up with lukewarm or worse a stone cold cappuccino.
On first arrival I discovered I had forgotten the buggy which meant I would have to manoeuvre bag, coats, coffee and toddler through the cafe until I came to the very back. After I ordered I tentatively set my daughter down and waited for the inevitable but she surprised me. She walked a little ahead of me, looking back to make sure I was following and then actually listened when I explained where we were going. As toddler behaviour goes (or at least my toddler) this was bordering on exceptional. Then we arrived at our destination. There was what looked like a convention of mothers taking over most of the area. There were no seats available close to the play area so I dumped my gear as close as I could and walked my munchkin over to the toys before returning to my seat. This location, however, suited neither of us. She was straining to see me, I was craning my neck to see her. Little did I know the table right next to the play centre was actually free. It was merely being used as a dumping ground for coats, bags and various hats, gloves and scarves by the group of mums sitting next to me! Within a few minutes a table became free literally right next to the play area. I immediately grabbed it.
My daughter stood on the sidelines, watching two older boys boss each other around and grab every available chair. My heart practically broke watching her little figure, standing so still and silent, unsure of what to do next. Suddenly I could see her in the school playground not knowing anyone, in college in a class of strangers, in work on her first day nervous and alone. I wanted to freeze time then or at the very least tuck her away, rapunzel-like, where I could always keep her safe. We might have to forego the hair-ladder (fine hair like ours doesn’t grow fast or I imagine take well to being used as a rope) but we would get by now that you can get most things online.
I knew I was being ridiculous even as these thoughts flashed through my head. I wanted her to thrive and make friends and enjoy life and to do this one has to have the odd uncomfortable experience or three. But as she grabbed my hand for reassurance and clung on while she watched, I was very glad she is still so small. Her father and I are the centre of her world and still have a level of control over what happens to her. This won’t always be the case though so I’m going to treasure these days while I can and instil in her the knowledge that no matter what mummy is always going to be there to hold her hand.