Mother on the Edge
By Angelina Mapara
Yesterday, I committed the most heinous of crimes against my 4 year old little girl (aka Mini-Me). This crime has generated a palpable and overflowing aura of guilt above my head which has already permeated the very foundations of my house; In fact I’m sure it will be termed “residual guilt” by the Derek Acorah equivalent who will pace around the house in a century seeking clues about the tortured souls that inhabited the place in times gone by.
What did I do to solicit this? No, of course I didn’t smack her. And no, I didn’t follow through with my threat to throw all her toys away if she didn’t pick them up off the floor ( - I find theatrically collecting them in a Tesco bag works well enough). I actually forgot a nursery friend’s birthday party. Gasp!
I just don’t know how it happened. It’s the middle of school holidays, but I’m still teaching. It’s the end of my term, my back has gone into spasm and I have all but lost my voice. In short, I feel like a character from Death Becomes Her (y’know, when all their body parts start falling off and they’re trying to stick them back on any which way). I attached the invite to the fridge door with a tasteless magnet; and I put the entry in my life-changing-phone-gadget-thingy. But I set the reminder for a day before, and by the time Sunday came, the thought had vanished. No mean feat, since every other day, Mini-Me had been asking “Are we going to Emily’s party today?”
So, Sunday morning was here and I was looking for things that would cheer us up because we’ve been through the mill somewhat this last year, due to the creative exploits of soon-to-be-ex-husband (aka “Mr Small”). I grabbed my trusty copy of Families to check kids’ theatre listings, but there was nothing on that particular day. Checked out the Harrow Museum Website (www.harrowarts.com) for free Sunday Jazz concerts, but weirdly again, nothing mentioned for that particular day. These should all have been big red arrows pointing to “EMILY’S PARTY” illuminated in lights. Sadly… nothing.
It was raining and cold and I racked my brains for some way to pass the time which wouldn’t entail too much physical exertion on my part. We’d already been to my fab and clean local park with its slides, swings and Aerial Runway (King George, Bushey) on Saturday when the deceptive sunshine belied the biting wind that whipped our noses. We’d treated ourselves to a cappuccino and chocy muffin from La Dolce Vita (the excellent family-run café in the park, open 7 days a week 8:00am - 4:00pm).
So where else, on a rainy day? The thought of indoor soft-play centres on a holiday weekend, sent my back into further psychosomatic spasms, so it was looking like destination Ikea. Just then, I got a phone call from my best friend, the fashion buyer who was en route to Brent Cross Shopping Centre. Hurrah! Surely there would be some child-orientated Easter-egg decorating-type holiday merriment there. The downside being the mortification of looking like chopped liver in comparison to all the princesses shopping with their mothers and daughters, not to mention BFFB, who’s actual job it is to look achingly, effortlessly perfect. So I wore jeans and a new green “aged 13” top I bought reduced to £2 (no VAT!) in Primark and risked my ancient silver high heeled boots. Mini-Me was resplendent in Kenzo polo neck (a gift) and jeans. FBBF barely recognized us - I took this as a (veiled) compliment.
Disappointingly, there were no activities, but we did enjoy a pleasant afternoon, spending our advantage card points on bath time treats, browsing dungarees in Hennes for Mini-Me and deftly dodging exorbitant foil-balloon sellers. A cake and hot chocolate topped with lashings of whipped cream always does wonders for Mini-Me’s spirits. When we left, even the elephant noise coming from the car door (can you use olive oil on car doors?) couldn’t dampen our spirits. Until, whilst driving home, I realised what I had forgotten and my face was contorted into Edvard Munch’s The Scream, requiring months of Botox to correct…
Angelina Mapara runs Sing and Sign baby signing courses in Harrow, Bushey, Stanmore and Rickmansworth. More info at www.singandsign.com