At the weekend, while Mr. Waffle put in time with the spotty boys at home (honestly, my beautiful babies look like creatures from the crypt, or adolescents, I suppose), the Princess and I sampled the delights of the annual foire du midi. We started with a tame ride on the kiddie merry go round. She came off electrified. She was high as a kite from the adrenalin rush of being carried around in slow circles by a panda while Gloria Gaynor’s I will survive played in the background (oh Gloria, how the mighty are fallen). She wasn’t quite ready to go again (just too terrifying) so she suggested that we go on the big wheel. It was my turn to be unnerved. “We’ll have to ask the lady behind the counter whether you’re big enough”. Yes she was. There were people with small babies in those circling teacups. With low railings and no seat belts. For the five rotations of the wheel, I clutched the railing behind me with one hand and the Princess with the other while muttering fervently through my teeth “don’t stand up, don’t stand up”. There is a picture of her at the high point of the wheel’s rotation which I took with my feet.
Nothing was denied her, ice cream, candy floss, chips, a waffle, apple fritters she had them all. She went on all the merry go rounds that she was interested in; mostly they were just “terrifying!” – said in tones of horror with hands held over her eyes. She must be the world’s most prudent child. We found one further merry-go-round which met with her approval. True it did go up in the air but only if you pushed a button. She sat in and we buckled her belt. As she went around the boy sitting in the front untied her buckle and I thought she would lose her life. She bawled as she proceeded around in sedate circles. When the thing stopped she hurled herself into my arms weeping. Nevertheless, she was game to give it another go. We searched the apparatus diligently and found one other capsule with a working seat belt. Safely strapped into a slightly sinister looking clown, she clutched her steering wheel nervously. I really don’t know why she puts herself through this. When the ride ended, she propelled herself out of the clown with such speed and vigour that I was caught unawares and slipped from the step at the side of the clown onto the ground in an undignified heap (saving herself from injury, I hasten to add). As I sat on the ground assessing my injuries (one swollen but not unwalkable on ankle, one very bruised hand – this information is brought to you by an eight fingered typist) and state of cleanliness (poor), the Princess jumped up and down beside me saying “Mummy, were you worried that I would fall out of the clown, were you, were you?”. On dragging myself to my feet, madam announced “Mummy, I’m too tired to walk, you’ll have to carry me”. I picked her up with my good arm and limped to the tram stop.
When we got on the tram it was full and my prudent three year old was too scared to stand because the tram rocks so I held her in my arms all the way to our stop. When we emerged from the tram, sweaty and dishevelled, I insisted that she cover some ground on her own. Very shortly thereafter she said “I want to do a wee Mummy”. “Can you wait until we get home?” I don’t know why I ask that question because she probably can’t and, in any event, her sense of direction is such that we would probably have to be outside the front door before she could assess how long it would take to get from any given spot to home. So, we had an emergency toilet break at the side of the road about five minutes walk from home and, due to her mother’s ineptitude (eight operational fingers, remember), she managed to soak her underpants, her sandals and my sandals. Cunningly, I was able to secrete her damp underpants in an empty packet of paper tissues. Equally cunningly, I was able to persuade her to keep her skirt down and not show passers-by that she wasn’t wearing any underpants. We arrived home exhausted. I said to Mr. Waffle “we brought you an apple fritter, watch out for the wet underpants in the bag.” And in the day’s final indignity he looked at the bag in alarm and said “whose?”