Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Sam is at Zoo Camp in the afternoons for one week only, and it has taken me a whole four days to carve out some special mother and daughter time for hard done by Beatrice in lieu of her usual nap, or having to run errands and attend to dull household tasks.
We dropped a happy Sam off at Woodland Zoo and left him sitting in a circle of green t-shirt clad friends quietly beaming and paying avid attention to the lady whose curly hair has attracted his attention and who has been deemed his most best favourite girl friend. I have been told that she likes to laugh at his jokes and is very, very nice.
Beatrice and I then charged to the car and headed back to Magnolia village. During the short drive she had already started to nod off in her car seat and I had to gently rouse her upon arrival. She was very grumpy with me when I helped her out of her seat and she realised we were not at home and definitely not heading to Sam’s bed for a nap. She loudly expressed her displeasure when I insisted that her monkey ought to stay and look after the car. As I hoisted her into my arms and carried her across the road she squirmed and loudly yelled “Put me down! No grocery store ‘gain Mummy!” When she heard the shrieks of children having fun and caught sight of the bustling community swimming pool she switched her tune to “Swimming Mummy!! I want to go swimming! Look! Look Mummy! There’s a swimming pool!”
“Really Bea? Shall we? Would you like to?”
Somehow this morning I had managed to pack a bag of swimming gear for the little lady and I, and had stowed it away in the boot without Bea, or more importantly, Sam, seeing. Pretty soon I was in the heated baby pool standing at the bottom of a mini plastic slide as Bea hurtled down towards me and landed in the water with a big plop. The little kiddie version of the big slide in the adult pool was actually still a little more exciting than I had expected and even with me holding her hand, and her bouyancy vest on, Bea disappeared far beneath the water and then bobbed up like a cork with the face of someone sucking on a sour lemon. She didn’t have the nerve to try that one again.
The next hour was spent trying to get Bea to be comfortable tugging around the water with me, but I think it was too crowded and hectic. The pool was rather a zoo and it was impossible to stand anywhere without someone bumping or jostling. Bea was obviously unnerved, but held her own and enjoyed playing in the water by the wide steps where she could still stand and have some control. She had a good time and I very much enjoyed the one on one time with her.
If I thought the pool was madness the changing room afterwards was insane. Bea and I left the water a little early to get changed as I had a feeling that the stampede come session close would be crazy. I was right, and then some. We were only barely halfway done when the masses descended and I suddenly found myself trying to maintain dignity and change crushed into a postage stamp space. Bags were dumped on top of ours and a naked Bea wearing her puppy towel kept making a break for the door between everyone’s legs. Nightmare, but we survived.
Our three hours of girl time was not yet over though. We had some time to kill and I had something else up my sleeve for my Bea Bea. She let me hold her hand and we went for a walk up to the village shops. I lingered at the window of one store front. Bea’s eyes widened, “Ice cream!!”
I chose coconut. Bea dithered. The multicoloured sprinkles in the birthday cake flavour tub made her drool, but a small taste test conjured a wrinkled nose and a “Yucky!” She fell back to her flavour of choice, chocolate, and was soon slurping her way to becoming a happy sticky brown mess. She was so happy that she didn’t even seem to mind the wet paper towel clean up I had to give her afterwards so that we could collect the boy without arousing his suspicions.
Back at the zoo Sam was obviously glowing with a fun spent afternoon and he had a new paper meerkat pet called Oscar to show us, but he still jealously wanted to know what we had been up to. Did we just stay at home all afternoon? I waved a loaf of bread I had hastily bought as subterfuge. “No, we had to go to the store.” That satisfied him, and Bea told no secrets.