Lovely lovely day yesterday, it was. Not at first, because we were waiting for the neighbours to come and have a playdate and I abhor playdates because of the mess and the yelling and the inevitable get-your-younger-brother-naked-and-push-him-outside-and-say-you-were-just-playing-prisoner thing. Poor Noah.
Anyhoo, there was a bit of that, and some scratching and some bedroom eating (of which I don’t normally approve) and a lot of tipping out of toyboxes that have not been explored for a very long time, and as such dehydrated apple cores and biscuits that turn to mouldy dust as soon as you get near them were all over the carpet (thus the bedroom-eating-disapproval). The baby is very mobile and gets under chairs and screams quite a bit, and Custard is currently out of nappies, which rather than meaning he is toilet-trained, actually means he just wees all over the carpet and poos into his Wellington boots. But you can’t go back, right? Right.
[And in an unrelated bit of Custard news, his cuddle blanket which has followed him around in a fug of saliva and bits of old food, sucked and nibbled and slept on and really, really loved, is LOST FOREVER! It hurts me more than it hurts him, I think, as I see the whole big boy pants and no security blanket thing as proof that he is growing up. I think I imagined I would keep the once rather acceptable Cath Kidston blue holey shawl and just have it there with my Lady Stuff, and sniff it occasionally and remember how much Custard loved his blanket. But now the binman has it, I think,and so Custard has been fobbed off with New Blanket. He is totally unconvinced, and it is me who is a bit mopey without the old one. Too much, too soon.]
So, Wednesday was quite nice because after the playdate got a bit too hurty, we took the kids to the pirate park. Barnaby jumped off the ship and whacked his hip on some rope and was hobbling around and Noah got his face smashed in with the playdatee’s boot and we all got a bit bored of the maiming and so set off in search of the Anish Kapoor sculptures scattered throughout Kensington Park Gardens with ice creams in hand. Near the horse statue, Custard wet his jeans and asked me to take them off. I told him he would get cold, but he was adamant that he wanted them off, and I stripped him. And so we continued on, with him in a woolly hat, long-sleeved shirt, bodywarmer jacket, wellington boots, and a bare arse. Oh, the autumnal fun we had! There was conker-searching and leaf-collecting and dog-stroking and squirrel-chasing and one fairly innocent poo episode. How we laughed.
Until, meters from the park gates, a woman on a bike sidles up to me. She says:
“Yes?” says I, all rosy-cheeked from the lovely frolicking.
“Why are you allowing your son to walk around without trousers on a day like this?”
I had a split second of total glee when she said this, because every single bit of repressed, simmering anger that had built up over five years of tut-tutting strangers and every moment of feeling embarrassed and inadequate as a mother and knowing that people where witnessing my distress and floundering and messing up, well, they collided. Here was a woman coming up to me and practically begging me to let her have it. And so, Dear Reader, I DID.
I smiled, and turned to her, and went a bit apeshit. It went something like this, working up to a bit of wayward spittle and a purplish face:
“Are you trying to tell me that my efforts to toilet-train my young son on a mild autumn day, when we are minutes from home, and when we have been enjoying the afternoon together, and when I have four kids under my care, and when they are smiling, and still have bloody organic ice cream drying on their faces, are you trying to tell me I am doing something WRONG? Would you like to come closer to examine my son’s sodding underwear and jeans, and tell me if you would prefer me to put them back on him? HOW DARE YOU! Mind your own business! Which part of this is not acceptable? Is he upset? HOW DARE YOU!…” and on and on.
Then she says “Well, it is autumn, and social services might like to see what you are doing. Look at your other son!” (Points to Barnaby, who is wearing pyjamas, a werewolf suit, his school tie, my cotton scarf, plastic medals and a wool duffle-coat, certainly getting me on crimes to fashion, but hardly negligence.)
Luckily, at this point, a dog-walker, who had been overhearing all this, came up to Miss Italian-Anal-Retentive-Cyclist and said to her “What are you doing on this path! Get back to the bike path, you annoying busybody! Leave this poor woman alone! Disgraceful! Get off the path! Off! Piss off! Anyone can see this little fellow has had an accident! I have had enough of people like you! Off!”
And I am marching behind the dog-walker, and we chase her out of the path, chanting “Out! Get OUT! And think twice before you hassle someone ever again!”
It was AWESOME. I done non-hover-parents proud. I haven’t had that much fun since the Selfridges sale. The next time, I will film it, and start a Facebook group called “You Wanna Piece Of Me? – Mothers Against Tut-Tutters” or something. Even the retelling of the story has me worked up. Off for a cup of tea, then.