A couple of weeks ago, when the sun was still shining, Clare and I decided to take our family out for a little walk. Feeling adventurous, we thought we would head a little way out of town to a lovely spot where the river meanders around between woods, fields and meadows. I had a vision of soft focus spring sunshine and happy toddlers discovering all that nature has to offer. Some chance.
We pulled into the car park, gravel crunching under the tyres of the car. We got out and started the wrestling match to get both Arun and Meri into their coats. However, before we could take a single step there was something clearly amiss. Despite being a Townie I can tell the difference between the smell of the country and one of Arun’s dirty nappies. Clare bravely stepped up and got the nappy bag out and set about changing him in the back of the car.
A few minutes later we were set for our walk. Only the kids weren’t. Perhaps it was because we were somewhere new but Arun decided that he didn’t want to walk.
“Carried!” insisted Arun and Clare had to pick him up.
A few steps later, Arun looked across at me and said, ”Daddy’s shoulders.”
I took him off Clare and put him on my shoulders. A few steps later and Meri, who up until now had been quite happily toddling along holding my hand, looked across at Arun being carried. She stopped walking, moved round in front of me and held her arms out.
“Up!” she commanded.
“I can’t carry you and Arun”, I explained. Her eyes narrowed. Her lip quivered. She took a sharp intake of breath and then let out her favourite temper tantrum scream.
“Meri, listen, Daddy will carry Arun until the bend up ahead and then you can go on Daddy’s shoulders”. Sounded reasonable to me but not to Meri and so we continued our noisy progress through the peaceful countryside up until the corner.
At the bend, Arun thankfully decided that he was happy to walk and Meri got her shoulder ride. About twenty yards ahead was a gentle hump-back bridge. We made it there without further incident. However, Arun really enjoyed walking up one side of the bridge and then down the other. He enjoyed it so much he wanted to do it again. And again, and again. After about ten minutes we finally persuaded him to move on.
We made it about fifty yards further on and then looked at the time. We had been going for about thirty minutes. We needed to turn back. We had travelled about 150 yards at the most. As we turned around, both children looked unhappy. They both narrowed their eyes, two sets of lips started quivering, there were two sharp intakes of breath followed by screams. We may have wanted to go home, our children clearly did not.
As I picked Meri and Clare picked up Arun, we looked at one another.
“Must do this more often,” I said as we tramped our way back to the car.