It is recommended that small children get as much fresh air as possible…unfortunately nobody provides the necessary valium needed for the parents who have to undertake such excursions on a regular basis! The first battle begins with clothes. The Mini-Beast has a particular abhorrence of clothes and even in sub-degree temperatures is perfectly content just to wear her nappy…or better yet nothing at all. So getting ready for a walk can take up to half an hour, mama losing her cool before ever leaving the house.
Once dressed there is the Battle of the Car Seat, one I’m sure all parents of small children are familiar with. There are two ways to handle this battle; you can simply get kicked, bitten and scratched in your attempt to restrain them or there’s the old favourite – bribery. Before I became a parent I would have been horrified to use bribery as a parenting tool…I have learned much since then! Now I’m a big fan of bribery. Thankfully the Mini-Beast has recently become infatuated with, of all things, an old calendar. I tell her she is going to get ‘something nice’ and she immediately relaxes enough to be strapped in. Soon she is engrossed in looking at (okay sometimes eating) the pictures.
Upon arrival at the park or garden area one must then struggle to get the little terror into a coat and hat (the hat will only remain on for about five minutes but we have to look as if we take this parenting thing seriously). For the majority of the walk you, the parent, will be forced to carry the hat (scarf or gloves) while enduring judgemental looks from all and sundry for allowing your child to go hatless in such bad weather.
I have recently attempted to let the Mini-Beast roam free rather than bring a buggy. Get rid of all that pent up energy before dinner time (and save on my blushes when she inevitably refuses to get into it). These walks always begin the same way – the Mini-Beast takes my hand and beams up at me. For all of two minutes, my little girl and I peacefully take in our surroundings and I (foolishly) allow myself to smile and think how pleasant this all is. This doesn’t last. Once the Mini-Beast sights other people the drama begins. “Man”, yes that’s a man, “man” the man gets closer, “Man, Man!” as we come head to head with the man I frantically check I’ve remembered my wedding rings. Nothing worse than looking as if I let my toddler man-hunt for me! Most men simply look petrified when they see us looming into view. The odd one will smile, the smile turning to horror when the Mini-Beast declares “dada”!
The Mini-Beast is also fascinated with dogs! But they have to be small dogs. Big dogs or slightly scary looking ones means Mama has to carry her until they are at a safe distance where they can be admired but not interacted with. Small dogs, however, are a different story. They are looked at, yelped at and generally cause much excitement. Some of them even have the pleasure of getting chased. This is not good for Mama. I have had many struggles trying to stop the Mini-Beast eagerly chasing hounds- one poor fellow actually ran away from her. And don’t even get me started on what happens if we pass a man with a dog. Believe me nobody looks good panting after a toddler who is chasing a dog calling out “Man” “Man”! Between the physical exertion and the embarrassment I look like a giant beetroot!
Once the hat starts being thrown off one too many times (and all the dogs and men have run away) we decide to call it a day.