The Tiger Who Came To The Walk In Centre

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when your child finally sleeps the sort of hours you have dreamed about for years, you won’t sleep a wink and will be utterly convinced something catastrophic must be wrong which will result in a call to NHS 111.

My son (three) just hasn’t seemed right for a few days. He’s been as emotional as me watching a John Lewis Christmas ad, he’s suddenly terrified of everything, he hasn’t been eating and he looks as white as a sheet. His neck seemed to be stiff and swollen. Then last night he slept from 4pm to 8am.

So at eight o’clock this morning we (myself and grandma) shivered into the walk in centre with our little soldier to wait for two hours to be told we were wasting their time.

The walk in centre on a Saturday morning is a lovely snap shot of life. Simply lovely. If you didn’t feel ill before hand – it’s sure to make you come down with something. There was a one year old toddler walking about in his slippers and dressing gown, ever so often letting out a ridiculously loud battle call. His exhausted mum was trailing after him apologetically nodding at everyone, especially the elderly gentleman clutching his chest with his hearing aid on maximum.

There was a tiny baby who wailed every time his poor new mum tried to pull him off her breast. I remembered that feeling. I nodded at her in solidarity.

There was a little girl in the corner clutching a cardboard bowl. The dreaded cardboard bowl you’ll all know about if you’ve ever been to A&E of a night time. I remembered it well from my first labour as I vomited throughout the entire three days of it. I remembered my husband pretending to use one as a hat to try and get me to smile at ten centimetres dilated. Nice try mate.

I prayed she wouldn’t be ill both for her sake and for mine – I started to feel queasy. I shot her mum a sympathetic smile. I assumed if she had norovirus we probably all would soon.

My mother leaned over to let me know she could smell poo, making a disgusted face before asking me what veg I would like with my roast later. Not now Mother. Not now.

Last time I went to a walk in centre I had to sit next to man in a high vis with a nail through his thumb, and sitting next to my Mother for two hours was a close second to that kind of torture.

“Grandma, will you read me Tiger came to Tea?” he said in his tiniest sick voice.

“Yes Darling.” She said and in the middle of the house of plague my mum read aloud The Tiger Who Came To Tea. 

The room fell silent as we all listened to her Hyacinth Bucket (Bouquet if you please) voice reading the familiar story.

The baby being breastfed fixed his eyes on us, the Gladiator toddler sauntered over with his mum, the ladies behind us stared, even a burly drunk looking gentleman in a tracksuit looked over and listened. The audience of sick people united as the Tiger made his way through all the food in Sophie’s house. Everyone was captivated till the end. The baby fell asleep. My mum in the centre of the room like Mary Bleeding Poppins.

Everything felt nicer, safer. I felt less nauseas. Maybe this is all the divided world needs to unite – a grandma reading us all a nostalgic bedtime story.

We were called in after an eternity to be greeted by a rude Doctor who told us there was nothing wrong with him (my Mother’s instincts don’t seem to work).

So we all put our coats on and we walked down the road to go to a cafe. And all the street lamps were off and all the cars didn’t have their lights on but the little boy screamed that he hated cafes. So we walked down the road to a Sainsburys where we had to buy a toy for the poor (milking it) lamb.

And we got a very big bottle of calpol in case the cold should come again. And it did.

And Mummy got a very big bottle of wine because that’s what she did. And it was just right.

The end.

 

Good Lord, he really is a little shit isn’t he darling?

 

You could never have met anyone on this planet more desperate, more excited and more suited to be a grandparent than my mother.

She had me, her perfect only child, obviously, and then began her wait to become a grandma. She waited a long thirty years. I saw her disappointed face after every relationship went sour. I think she thought it might never happen.

However, I was slightly worried about telling her I was pregnant as it wasn’t great timing, wasn’t planned, and I was living in sin in a fairly new relationship. I took a deep breath in Costa coffee and told her “you’re going to be a grandma.”

I apologise to the patrons of Costa that morning who were witness to a lady shrieking, screaming, howling and jigging about like Ed Balls doing a Samba. As soon as my son was born she had moved cities to be near him and is practically down the road handily popping by on a daily basis with milk, bread, wipes, ready meals and a million kisses for her little Lord Fauntleroy angel who can do no wrong. Then we surpassed her expectations and gave her a second grandson – well, you’ve never seen a happier woman.

However, like Marie Barone, she can be slightly critical of my parenting.

When she pops round the first thing she will comment on is how the boys smell. Apparently they always smell of something. She has the fully oxygenised nose of a greyhound, my nose has obviously curled up and died after living with three males.

“Hello darling, oh… has someone done a poo?”

“Hello darling, oh… I think he’s done a wee… shall I run them a bath?”

“Hello darling, do you mind me asking when you all last had a wash?”

After the smell notes she will comment on whether they are too hot or too cold (there’s never an in-between).

“Hello darling, oh…shouldn’t he be wearing warm socks on his ickle footsies?”

“Hello darling, oh… does he need that jumper on? he looks overheated to me.”

“Hello darling, HE’S NOT WEARING A JUMPER HE’LL CATCH HIS DEATH!”

And to top it off she will comment on how I should go out more. Why don’t I just pop down the road for example. Why isn’t the dishwasher filled. What have I been doing all day?

Last week she took us all on another little Yorkshire break to give me a “rest” (HA) and to spend quality time with the little darlings she had wished for for three decades.

On the second day after getting around five hours of sleep I saw her in the kitchen. She said our eldest woke up at “FUCKING FOUR! FOUR!”

“Yes” I said calmly, he does that.

My youngest was strapped to her leg letting out a high pitched dolphin sound trying to claw his way up her body. She was trying to fill the dishwasher dragging her leg around with my one year old attached to it like a dead weight. My eldest was running from room to room singing “Away in a manger” throwing hula hoops across the carpet. It was around eleven and she had been up for seven hours already.

“Grandma!” my three year old was shouting in his ridiculously high pitched Elmo voice, “can you play my game? can you play my game grandma?”

“Yes … just …. I’m …. I ….. need a cup …. of…”

“But Grandma? Grandma? Can you read the three bears now? Grandma?”

“Well….just….the dishwasher….I”

“Grandma? Grandma? Can I have a chocolate biskwit pwease Grandma?”

“You didn’t eat your toast…so….I”

The one year old was demonically howling now at her feet, his head buried into her crotch desperate to be picked up. She picked him up and held him with one hand whilst trying to boil the kettle with the other.

Both boys were wearing no socks and no trousers and I could smell a waft of turd.

She let out an agonising sigh and said to me

“Argh… he (my youngest) really is a little shit isn’t he?”

We laughed and I have never ever felt happier in my life. That feeling when someone else sees what your daily life is like, they get it. The moment when your most loved thing in the whole world is a “little shit”. She got it. I felt validated.

I held the little shit while she prised open a bottle of wine with her teeth and we had a splendid holiday. Hic…