My approach to parenting, as to much of my life, is often to jump in enthusiastically and hope for the best. This has not always served me well.
One of my most impressive failures occurred when my eldest daughter Ana was around 9 months and I decided it would be a good idea to take her with me to London whilst I attended the AGM of a charity I volunteered for. ‘It’ll be fine’ I reasoned. ‘She can just sleep in the corner.’ (No matter that the pesky child had refused to sleep anywhere but her bed or the car since she was 3 months old).
The day started pretty poorly with a BUS REPLACMENT service for part of our train journey, which clearly entailed lugging a baby, a buggy and associated paraphernalia on and off a bus, then back onto a train. And then the tube…surprisingly hard to negotiate alone with the aforementioned luggage. But no matter. Sweating slightly and beginning to wonder if this was such a good idea, we arrived at the meeting venue: a pub in central London in the middle of the day.
By this time, Ana was getting tired and grumpy so started a rather insistent bout of crying whilst I tried rocking the buggy to get her to sleep. Then disaster struck – apparently the pub did not allow children…EVER. No matter that it was empty and the middle of the day. I hurriedly offered to leave with my ratty, petulant child but the kindly charity peeps would have none of it. I had travelled a long way, they couldn’t possibly make me leave! No! Instead the assembled 20 people would get up from their comfortable seats; leave their drinks and we would all traipse the streets of London looking for an alternative venue.
Finally, we packed into a small café and everyone squashed round some hastily pushed together tables in the new, makeshift, slightly inadequate venue. Everyone, that is, apart from me. Red faced and burning with embarrassment, I was still pushing the buggy back and forth whilst Ana screamed and screamed…and screamed, steadfastly resisting sleep.
So in summary, I enthusiastically took my small child to London; created havoc and caused a venue change only to spend the entire meeting stood 10 steps away from the group unable to hear anything over the cries, let alone contribute in any way.
So no, that probably wasn’t such a great idea after all….