More Despatches...

>> Thursday, 10 April 2008

It's been quiet on the Frontline recently. Too quiet. I knew it couldn't last. And this afternoon, the ceasefire was breached...

The battleground: the back seat of our car.

It had been a peaceful afternoon. Well, as peaceful as it can get when you fit in the nursery pick-up, a quick dash home to hang out the laundry, and rushing to the leisure centre for Boy #1's swimming lesson. But overall, calm. (Excluding the tonka toy in the face incident whilst strapping Boy #1 into his car-seat at nursery pick-up, which caused more than a slight sense of humour failure on my part... But I don't think the bruising on my lip will last more than a couple of days).

So, as we walked back to the car after Boy #1's successful lesson of jumping, floating, and underwater dragons (I know, I have no idea what that is either), there was no inkling of the storm that lay ahead.

Boy #2 was toddling along, one of his hands in mine, the other clutching the remains of an apple that he'd been gnawing at for the last 15 minutes. Now, for some reason, he views an apple as one of the greatest treats it is possible to lay his sticky little paws on. I know. I have produced an angel, you say? Just wait...

Lifting him into the car, the apple was knocked from his hand. Not the whole apple - just the 15% of it that was left. It rolled under the car. It was nearly finished. It was now filthy. It was, essentially, an ex-apple. And there was no way that I was going to get down on my hands and knees to retrieve this ex-apple.

Boy #2, of course, had other ideas.

I strapped him in.

"Ap! Ap! Ap!" he started as I walked round to the other side of the car to secure Boy #1.

"He wants his apple, Mama." Boy #1 said helpfully. "I know. But it's gone, Boy #2. It's op (Dutch for finished, in case you were wondering). You can have another when we get home." I climbed into the front seat and started reversing out.

"Ap! Mama! Ap! Ap! Ap!" (Is she deaf? Look, I can see it - it's just there, lying on the ground...)

I pulled out of the car park. "It's gone, Boy #2. I'm sorry, but it's finished."

"Ap! Nee! Ap! Ap! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP!" (I can't believe it! Doesn't she recognise an outright order when she hears one? Get back there, right now, and pick it up!)

"Is it a plane, Boy #2? Do you want your plane?" This from Boy #1, waving a plastic plane at his brother and - bless him - frantically trying to diffuse the situation. I pulled out onto the main road. In the distance, I could hear air-raid sirens beginning to sound.

"Nee! No payne! Aaaaaaaaap!" (That's it, I've asked them nicely, no more Mr Nice Guy. Attack!) "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPP!"

On the Frontline the plane was flying low along the road towards us. The rattle of it's machine guns were becoming increasingly audible. In my peripheral vision I was able to see the little puffs of dust the approaching bullets were making as they hit pavement on either side of Ladbroke Grove. There was only one option - to head for home. But something made me glance over my shoulder, and what I saw made my blood run cold.

Boy #2 was out of his straps. (Well, just his upper body, you understand. But still. Hardly ideal - or safe).

The noise level hit new highs as I screeched to a halt, hazard lights flashing, and dashed round to the other side of the car to resecure Boy #2. Tears were flooding down his bright red face. I could hear bombs starting to explode in the near distance. I saw a passing cyclist veer erratically as a particularly loud blast from Boy #2 coincided with my opening the door to force his arms back under the straps.

I got back in the car. The shelling continued, down Holland Avenue, and onto the top of Earls Court Road. This must stop soon - surely he's forgotten what he got so upset about in the first place?


Apparantly not.

We turned left. Not far now. "He's out of his straps again Mama!" I pulled over, repeated the hazard light routine, and resecured my little angel.

"Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" (This is torture like no other. Where's my bloody apple?)

A botoxed mummy in a black 4 x 4 looking as if she was going to give me a mouthful for obstructing the traffic thought better of it when she heard the battle in full force. I sprinted back to the front of the car and pulled away in a haze of burnt rubber, hoping to make it across the lights and the last few yards home before the next attack. I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw Boy #1 stoically reading Mr Strong, trying to ignore the shrieks and whistling as the blasts continued around us.

There was a pause, and an intake of breath from Boy #2. Oh no, we're not going to make it. So near, and yet so far. The Hurricane is making another pass and has us firmly in it's sights now - we're toast.

Silence. And then...


Home at last, I parked the car.


The Hurricane waggled it's wings in salute and flew on.

Did that make any sense? I'm still shell-shocked...


Mom of Three 10 April 2008 at 22:56  

Ay ca rumba! How many afternoons have I had like that? Too many! Sometimes, I think if I turn the stereo up high enough, it'll drown it out, but it only adds to the cacophony. Thank God we live within blocks of anything, so our ride home is usually short. Then. SpongeBob. My unpaid babysitter.

Potty Mummy 10 April 2008 at 23:18  

Hi Mom of Three, thanks for the visit. And SpongeBob. C-Beebies. Whatever. They are the unsung heroes for modern mums...

Anonymous,  11 April 2008 at 00:20  
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Anonymous,  11 April 2008 at 00:21  
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Tracey 11 April 2008 at 00:30  

OMG, how many stiff drinks did you need after that?! (I'll never be too old to forget the toddler car seat terrorist attacks!). Any small comfort derived from it being over an apple rather than sweets?

Pig in the Kitchen 11 April 2008 at 18:31  

Incoming! Gas Gas Gas! Fire in the Hole! said life on the front line was going to be fun PottyM, i think you handled it well.

What you really need is a husband who responds thus to my sputtering that the baby has got her arms out of the straps as we are hurtling down the autoroute at 90mph,
'Well, as long as she's secured around the middle, that's probably all that matters'...@!"*??! WTF?

Potty Mummy 11 April 2008 at 20:26  

Hi Tracey, it is some comfort, I suppose... And I didn't have a drink. I went straight for the hard stuff - the kid's easter eggs. (As soon as they were in bed, of course)

Thanks Pig - not sure I did handle it well, but you live and learn, right. As for your husband's comment; mine is just as capable of that - or would be if he weren't off in Ruski again till the middle of next week... (expect plenty of posts until then).

Mya 11 April 2008 at 21:42  

I think you deserve a medal!

Mya x

Sweet Irene 12 April 2008 at 04:03  

Me too, I was reading this with bated breath.

Frog in the Field 12 April 2008 at 09:11  

Potty Mummy, you really write a fab story about the true frontline experience of driving with children.
HA HA! Very, very funny!
Of course, MY children never do anything like that.....
Hope your Tonka chops go down soon!

Potty Mummy 12 April 2008 at 15:11  

Hi Mya - I think we ALL deserve a medal.

Thanks Irene - and I hope that was in a good way, not a 'when is she going to stop this nonsense' way...
(paranoid? Low self esteem? In need of constant reassurance? Write a blog...)

Hi Frog, 'tonka chops' - I think that should become a recognised medical term for mums injured whilst dealing with kids and metal toy cars... Thankyou. And the tonka chops have disappeared - thank heavens!

aims 12 April 2008 at 16:29  

I know it's perfectly horrid of me - but I often find myself saying the following after reading your posts...

Ah - there but for the grace of a mushy uterus - would have gone I....

Better you than me girl.

A Purple Heart or the Medal of Valour?

Potty Mummy 12 April 2008 at 20:12  

Hi Aims, but you know what? I wouldn't change it. Amazing what hormones and nature can do to a woman, isn't it?

A Modern 10 November 2008 at 06:43  


I love travelling with toddlers.

Just try an 11-hour transatlantic flight.

Iota 11 November 2008 at 22:35  

Can't believe I didn't comment on this post first time round. I remember it clearly. Life with toddlers is such a battlefield.

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