Please don’t lick your shoes 

Let’s not pretend. We all love our kids more than life itself but just can’t wait until they fall asleep. Time with them is one of God’s greatest blessings, but time without them can taste like a little gift from heaven.

We had a moment recently which made me especially keen to encourage a nap:

Having moved to our estate about six months ago, I had become pretty frustrated that I still didn’t know our neighbours. So when I found out about a Facebook page for the estate residents, I tentatively posted (in words ever so slightly less cringy) ‘does anyone want to be my friend?’ Shockingly, quite a few women saw past the desperation and got in touch. Maybe it was pity but I’d take it.

One lovely lady invited me and my girls to a Saturday morning walk. We would be delighted. I remember a distant time when I couldn’t understand how people could make plans for 9:30am on a Saturday but now it almost feels like the middle of the day.

Because I haven’t kept up with the alarming rate at which my daughter’s feet are growing, she was left with two options: wellies or the full-on sparkly party shoes. Party shoes it was and she scooted on over with me and baby who was snuggly in her carrier.

I hadn’t taken toddler out on her scooter recently but she was pretty confident and I was proud of her for tackling corners and not falling into too many hedges. She even managed to stop before colliding with a gate, when in the past she has deliberately used it as a bumper. It hasn’t always ended well. 

We met my neighbour and she suggested a walk around a nearby university campus. It was a lovely area, beautiful and leafy with many squirrels for the kids to spot, shout at and basically terrify. 

Anyway, it was a really nice location, my neighbour and I were getting on like a house on fire, baby was calm in her koala pack, toddler was scooting away like an angel down the long drive which led to a grand stately home. It really was a long drive. Much longer than I realised. And also had a car park at the bottom. And turned a corner which we couldn’t see around. 

Everything taken into account, my angelic daughter decided that this would be a perfect place to practice scooting as fast as she could, bashing her vehicle over the speed bumps and also seeing how far she could get away from us before I went completely mental. 

She normally stops when told, and usually slows down when we ask. Not today. She had obviously had enough of doing what she was told. She suddenly flew away as fast as one of those squirrels she had earlier been terrorising. 

Completely ignoring me, she darted down the drive, into the car park and sped around the blind corner. Of course I had been calling to her to slow down and stop. At first I was calm and firm, trying not to look like a paranoid sergeant major type mother in front of my new friend. However, seriousness of the situation quickly took priority and soon I was barking orders at three times the volume. On a Saturday morning. Nearby undoubtedly sleeping students. 

Screaming like a sweaty maniac, I hurtled down the road after her, my baby bouncing around on my chest probably wondering what the heck was going on. She had just been about to drop off to sleep.

Once caught, I don’t need to describe the telling off she received and, needless to say, it sucked the joy out of the rest of her morning. Such a shame as she had been flying around like a happy fairy in those sparkly shoes.

She begrudgingly carried on with the journey (refusing to scoot however) and dragged her feet around the route, cheering up ever so slightly when we found some rescued battery farm hens. 

After bidding our new friends goodbye, I was congratulating myself that, despite my needy outreach message and my daughter’s unruly display, our neighbour still seemed to think that we were normal enough. My toddler had finally cheered up and was skipping happily home in her glittery footwear. I was carrying the scooter. 

Time to relax at home. Enough effort and drama for the morning. I put the scooter away and looked down at my daughter, relieved that our trip out had a happy ending. But then I saw what she was doing now, and you probably know the feeling… inward prayers of *deep breath* “Lord, give me strength”.

Maybe it was the glitter, she wanted to know what it felt like on her tongue?! Maybe she likes the taste of dirt and dust and damp?! When I am already running on my last few drops of patience, I have to reach deep inside, draw a breath or two and calmly say ridiculous things like “sweetheart, please don’t lick your shoes”. 

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