It is half-term. Usually a stressful time as Didsbury Son’s array of Junior Schools would be parading Eid, Halloween, Simchat Torah and World Animal Day in a continuous thread that would delight and utterly confuse him and us. One year we were carving a pumpkin in the shape of a hamster to commemorate the five pillars of wisdom and the giving of the scriptures by Moses; who was a close friend of Iggle Piggle and had played in the Premier League.
This year could not be more different. Didsbury Son has happily sloped off to a friend’s family for a few days without nappies. His phone call (not even calls) was crushingly happy, brief and indifferent. No amount of self back-patting for having such a sociable and self-assured son makes up for the move from absolute need to the foothills of independence.
So Didsbury Wife and I headed off to the Lleyn; M20 by the sea, to introduce The roundest eyes and head in Didsbury and his sister the new boss – our lovely twins to the sea, the caravan, Llanbedrog and Abersoch. It could not have been more different than previous trips. It was a one-handed, one-hour of sleep, nappy and feeding fest that was wonderful for all the small world, rigid timetabled, dictatorial restrictions three-week old babies can bring. I have never felt so needed or alive even though I barely had time to dress them up for my entertainment or loll aimlessly in the classic male pose, one hand was always around a baby.
I should have understood that my long anticipated new life was already here on a trip to the Trafford Centre with Didsbury Wife, Didsbury Son, Didsbury Twins and London nephew last week.
First, the organisation and logistics are phenomenal. I have booked tours and worked on studio shows more simple than getting 2 car seats filled, 2 older children seat-belted and assembling the required paraphernalia in a 60 minute timeframe. Secondly, You don’t need a nanny, you need crew.
After negotiating Didsbury Son’s erratic yet proud double buggy driving through the Trafford Centre (my 697th favourite place in Trafford), whilst fending off London Nephew’s enquiries about which twin I like best… I caved in and paid for them to go solo to the cinema to give them 2 hours of 3D and us 2 hours of question free parenting; bliss.
My normal visits to that place to ease Didsbury Wife’s shopping usually consist of placating Didsbury Son with 20 minutes at Game and Apple before fobbing him off with a Hot Chocolate so I can look at Sky Sports News on my phone.
This time, with sweat beading at my temples and babies beginning to shuffle and wake I went to Mamas & Papas ( it’s a real shop, honestly. I learn every day), John Lewis (same trip, different department), M&S ( starting to seem worryingly convenient beyond the food section) and Baby Gap ( disappointingly not staffed by babies).
Any of these stops would normally have me harrumphing like a teenager but I had a revelation . Pushing twins around in a pram got me the positive attention, queue jumping and ease of service I have only ever had in daydreams.
Although slightly damp and stiff of back – by the time we sneaked 20 minutes at Yo Sushi, where we received a welcome reserved only for people who unlike us, do not spin out 4 bowls of Miso Soup for a cheap lunch, I felt taller, prouder and ready to take advantage of this brief celebrity.
Changing a nappy at 3am over the weekend I realised that there are many things that have kept me up at that time: from the emotional to the chemical – but none of them had ever looked at me with something that was clearly wind, but worth waiting and remembering for a lifetime, and it doesn’t need paracetamol.