It’s winter. It’s cold, it’s wet and pushing the buggy through the freezing rain and snow has lost its appeal.
In days gone by, I revelled in days like these, believing it was nature’s way of telling me to curl up on the sofa with a good book and a duvet. Turn up the heating, pull on the covers — and relax.
When the baby was small, inclement weather wasn’t such an issue. After all, play-mats are play-mats, come rain or shine. Add a chorus of Baa Baa Black Sheep, a quick jiggle of Minnie Mouse and a couple of “coochie coos” and, frankly, everyone’s happy.
Now she’s a toddler it’s not so simple. “Out out,” she implores, desperate to escape the confines of these four walls. But while I aim to please, I am less inclined to give in to pleas of “park” and “mud pies” in Arctic conditions, or when the rain falls in sheets and a force 10 gale howls round the house like a banshee.
It’s a difficult age.
I pore over books of rainy day activities, ruling out the many suggestions that involve paper clips (choking hazard), scissors (lethal) and string (having already had to cut her free from the high chair once). We try the obvious and get out the crayons, but her constant requests to “draw rabbi mummy, just one more rabbi” do not allow the free-flowing creativity I had envisaged.
Time for our failsafe, a spot of reading. She loves books and between us we can now recite many children’s classics by heart. But today The Gruffalo, Each Peach Pear Plum and all the others are out of favour and only one book will do.
It’s not that I have anything against My First Passover Board Book, but I have discovered that there is a limit to how animated one can be when saying,“Ooh look darling, Moses in a basket” for the 30th time of the day.
She is oblivious to my antipathy. “Sing it Manishtanah,” she shouts enthusiastically every time we reach that particular page. Hardly a festive favourite for this time of year, but I guess it’s all good practice for the future.
Next, we try baking, her favourite activity, though I soon discover that babies are absolute rubbish when it comes to creaming butter and sugar to a mousse-like consistency. I give her the task of mixing the dry ingredients instead and the small amount that stays in her bowl is added to mine before we do patting and rolling.
The kitchen looks like it’s been hit by a blizzard and as I transport our sweet treats to the oven, I have to tread carefully through clouds of icing sugar as well as heeding my daughter’s counsel: “Be careful. ’Ot, ’ot. Burn your wingers.”
At bedtime she proudly tells daddy she made biscuits.
“And what did you put in the bowl?” he asks.
“Butter. Eggies. Sugar…”
“And what else? Flour?”
Another day, another deluge.
We want to run through the park, jump in puddles, search for leaves. Instead we are trapped once more as the flood waters rise and rise outside the house and I ponder how long it would take to build an ark. Out of breadsticks.
By 10am cabin fever has taken hold and I am overcome with exhaustion. I lie on the living room floor, yawning loudly to illustrate my point.
“Mummy is very tired,” I tell her.
“Mummy really, really needs lots and lots of…”
I wait for her to say “sleep”, but no.
“Wine?” she suggests.
She may have a point.