Mel McGovern is a single mother living in a village on the outskirts of London. She has a four year old son named Ryan; they live with their cat and rabbit. She works full time as an activity co-ordinator between two care homes and is also a practising artist. She is currently awaiting the results of a hypnotherapy course. Mel enjoys painting and reading.
As I put my son to bed we always have a little chat about the day and where he is going tomorrow. He goes to school, breakfast club, childminder, my parents and me so it seems a good idea to keep him abreast of what to expect in the morning. However, this is usually a frustrating conversation (like tonight) as wherever he is going he will insist that he wants to go elsewhere. A personal favourite gem this week ‘’but I want to go back to school!’’
Tonight I tell him of tomorrow morning’s long-anticipated adventure to the theatre. We are going to see, of all hallowed beings Peppa Pig!!!! In Peppa Pig’s Big Splash. During the Summer I took part in an exhibition in Pall Mall and whilst waiting for a friend to view it on the steps of Eros Ryan spys the theatre with the Peppa posters and just wanders through the doors. He thought it was a museum of some kind. Anyway, I promise we can’t go in now but I will get tickets for the Christmas holidays.
I cough up £40 for two tickets to watch the singing and the puppets. And now, the time has finally arrived to go there.
Ryan decides tonight he does not want to see Peppa Pig, he wants to watch Paddington Bear in the cinema. Since Summer he has developed an obsession with this film and has described the trailer to everyone he meets. I am planning to take him to see it but for tonight I’m persuading him to go to a show that was a treat for him.
We have had one other theatre experience where we saw Elephantom which was an amazing introduction and very family friendly. You could take pictures with your face through a blue trunk and the only merchandise available was the actual book. Each child was provided with an inflatable booster seat and there were spacious waiting areas before show time. This being Peppa Pig though the merchandise is available beforehand on the Big Splash website. I forget to order our matching Mummy Pig and (I want a pink one Mummy) Peppa t-shirts. I fantasise about getting the shirts early and I hope to take pictures preferably with a large. Pink pig cut-out. Before I sleep I imagine I might put make up on and look presentable at the theatre.
When we get up I step into the hallway calmly and confidently. Over the Christmas week we were dog sitting and now there is such pleasure in simply putting on the light without thinking of stepping into a puddle. In the living room I find the rabbit has weed outside of the hutch (short lived pleasure but at least there’s a puppy pad under the hutch). I clean out Benjamin Bunny who has turned his hutch into an aquarium overnight. I really need a plastic bottomed hutch before I end up needing a new floor.
I take a bath while Ryan eats his Ready Brek. He marches into the bathroom with the giant smartie tube that was meant for the theatre in his mouth. There are 5 left. I eat them to teach him that if you eat your smarties….your mum will too?….anyway……no-one gets sweets in the theatre.
We begin searching for our travel companion Daddy Pig who is the coolest character because he wears glasses. Not cool enough for his whereabouts to be remembered though (is he at Nana’s?). I apply a small amount of make up and remember the last time I wore some was October. And that was to be a clown for Halloween. In this short time frame Ryan has discovered all the other characters and filled the Thomas the Tank Engine backpack with them. He announces ‘’I got lots of ones.’’ This includes the Mummy Pig flannel who has been doubling up as a puppet in Ryan’s
Christmas shows. None of these characters leave the bag all day but need carting about nevertheless.
My next job is to ring my boss and try to discuss bringing my son to work with me tomorrow. Ryan is collected from school by myself, a childminder or my parents. This is a great support system and I’m very lucky. However when they take their respective holidays especially during school holidays when my leave has run out it all goes a bit pear-shaped. I used all my favours up last week too.
During the days of private nursery I had looked to school age as a golden time. It is far worse for me though. Private nursery accepts that you are working and was closed for one week in summer and bank holidays. School is shut twelve weeks a year plus teacher training. In addition school assumes that parents drop their children at the classroom door and then pant like dogs til collection time. This results in a deluge of invitations to stay-and-play, nativity plays, Harvest Festival, sampling school meals, sports day, target setting all during the working day and often around 2pm so middle of the working day. This means more leave or lateness and less days to cover holidays. I refuse to pay for extra childcare as the time is not long enough to constitute a change significant enough to alter child tax credit and even so, my problems with them are deep and aplenty as it is.
Anyway, my boss isn’t there so I have no option to wait til tomorrow morning.
I get a phone call from the hospital booking service who say my appointment has been brought forward to tomorrow. So, no work at all then.
Eventually we leave the house.
The train journey is punctuated by Ryan’s new habit of whinging. At first I thought this was a ploy for attention so I’d talk positively through whatever his problem seemed to be but this seemed to throw up just more fantastical whining.
A lot of his conversation is in this style lately. ‘’Brush your teeth’’…..’’ooooo….no….not….mybrushteeth….noooo’’ so that every little instruction becomes pained. I’ve decided to eradicate this like tantrums by riding it out and then being really happy when normal conversation resumes…except it doesn’t….it restarts….At home I leave the room or do a task. In the town we go to a corner and wait til he calms down. On a train there is no option.It’s endurance here. Just moaning…and pinching….more pinching…very hard pinching.
The train journey is long. The District line is closed so the Met line is making extra stops. We countdown the stops and at each number he has to find that numeral on the back of his new mittens from Santa.
We arrive at Picadilly surprisingly early. Lots of time for pictures and the t-shirt purchasing. Except that the Criterion theatre is very small and has lots of steps all roped off til showtime. Just a sign explaining all Peppa Pig merchandise can only be paid for in cash. Drat!
Outside we see the first of our sightings on the Paddinton Bear Trail. There are 50 Paddingtons placed across London which will later be auctioned for the NSPCC and the trail is a wonderful idea…if it was the Summer….and if I could ‘bear’ maps hoho!
We have some lunch in Jamie’s Diner. (How I miss a picnic, my dear frugal Summer). I pay £9 for
my son to eat a thimbleful of spaghetti. You’re welcome Jamie, I’ve bought you the packet 18 times over. With these places you pay for the experience. We are there half an hour. Ryan is enraptured with the dinosaurs which are suspended from the ceilings. I am insisting we pay the bill before the food arrives.
At the Criterion we have a wonderful time. We are three rows from the front and have great fun getting splashed by George’s tears. The show is really interactive and there is even an appearance from Mr Potatohead. I enjoy listening to the rowing couples around us and think at least I haven’t got any of that crap.
On the way home we take a wander around Leicester Square where we find a Christmas market and a golden Paddington (that’s two down) and M&M’s World. My son is ecstatic to see that one of the rides has a snow machine and spins around with glee. (I am often asked when will it snow like it’s an occasion on the calendar).
We take the packed, rush hour train back. My son has decided ‘’I-don’t-love-you-I-will-leave-you-you-can-live-all-on-your-own’’ until we are on the platform where he decides ‘’If we hold hands your hand will get cold’’ and pulls his coat sleeve down to cover my hand also. (Awww).
On way back he is excited that he can tell Nana all the lovely things he has been doing in London.
We get sandwiches from Tesco’s and eat lunch at the bus stop, it being about half six. We get home for bed where I attempt to read one of the new books from Christmas ‘Practice Your Phonics’. I open the Ugly Duckling and find….there….are….no…words. I am missing something here surely?
I reply to all the messages I missed today having my phone off to converse battery for photos. I whatsapp my friend and watch Eastenders. I check the Paddington Bear trail maps and realise it ends tomorrow. His favourite being a Dr Who theme bear is over in Greenwich on the complete opposite side of the city. I sleep early safe in the knowledge I will regret not doing any housework tomorrow.
Mel is taking part in my #DayInTheLife project, a series of posts where people write about their typical day. If you would like to take part, please fill in the form on my blog post here.