Me:  “Don’t fall asleep!  Keep your head UP!!!!  Head UP!!!!”

How do you stop a tired three year old from falling asleep on the back of a bike?

We’d had a long day starting with a crisp autumnal downhill ride to playgroup.  Flipflops are becoming a chilly choice now.

My daughter insists on bringing a teddy with her on the bike.  The last few days it has been the turn of Baby “Babbit” a puce mini bean bag and Babbit’s friend, Baby Mouse – a white IKEA rat.  Baby Mouse went swimming with her yesterday sealed in a pink plastic bag.  When a couple of her brothers & I pointed out that Baby Mouse wouldn’t be able to breathe she explained,  “Baby Mouse is pretend so he doesn’t need to breathe.”

By this morning Baby Mouse and Baby Babbit had developed anaerobic feelings.  They feel lonely if they are carried in separate hands.  As her hands are too small to carry them both together her solution is to wave them around wildly behind me on her bike seat, one in each fist, with frequent mid-air collisions while I am trying to keep my balance.   My solution is for her to sit them together quietly on her lap.

“Babbit” and “mouse” spent the morning in my daughter’s playgroup tray looking after her wet paintings while my daughter played and I went home listed more vintage handbags into my shop and wrapped my customers’ orders.  Thank you all you lovely customers in America!!  Yo

ur purchases are on their way.

After playgroup we rode to Grandma and Grandpas in the blazing sun – this is UK blazing, a moderate 17 degrees.  It was gorgeous even though it was all uphill.  We arrived sweaty and breathless – me, calm and hungry – my daughter.

We had a lovely afternoon with Grandma and Grandpa then set off to the post office with Mouse and Babbit peeping out of the side pocket of my backpack.

This journey was down hill through a fantastic conker woods.  Major Distraction.  Despite having never seen them before my daughter announced that she loves “pom poms” so we parked up, got her down and she set about collecting conkers as fast as she could.

Autumn Horse Chestnut Woods

Autumn Horse Chestnut Woods

Autumn Bike Seat full of Conkers

Autumn Bike Seat full of Conkers

By the time we arrived at the post office my daughter had just nodded off.  I managed to wake her up enough to get her into the post office.  She staggered in like a drunk astronaut in her helmet and fell asleep on the floor at my feet while I was processing the parcels.

This was not my plan.  I managed to wake her up in tears, her, not me,  and slightly stem the flow by allowing her to remove Babbit and Mouse who were peeping so beguilingly from my backpack and carry them in one fist.  What a mistake. Tantrum avoidance when tired always leads to bigger problems.

Our journey home was uncomfortable hell.  The last half mile is uphill.  I walked it.  One arm in front, rigid, drained of blood pushing the bike handle bars.  The other wedged behind me under my daughter’s lolling head in a self-imposed joint popping arm lock keeping her head semi-upright and her airways open.

We arrived at home once again me puffing, panting and pouring with sweat and her gently rousing from her wheel bourne siesta to find, horror of horrors….NO BABY MOUSE!!!

Instant wide awake tear squirting from my daughter.

I couldn’t be a cruel mummy and leave Baby Mouse.  So I strapped my daughter back onto the bike, put my sweaty rucksack back on my sweaty back, and set off praying that the mouse would be somewhere near our house near the top of the hill.

No.  It was a mile away at the very bottom of the hill.  On a bridge.  Right in the middle of the road.  I had to cross the road and park my bike with daughter still on it; tell her not to lean over, or move, under any circumstances and – in a very risky manoeuvre – scuttle into the road and rescue the mouse.  One car swerved around it and another drove over it.  Poor Daughter.  She was very upset about the mouse being squashed.

She was screaming.

You’ll be relieved to hear we all survived.  Mouse, Babbit, daughter and I.  Half an hour later we were all safely home.  My sweat had dried and daughter was driving her conker customers around the kitchen floor in a plastic train.

“Would Mouse and Babbit like a ride?” I asked

“No!”  says daughter, as though I’m feeble minded – “this is for conkers.”

Conker passengers queueing for their train ride

Conker passengers queueing for their train ride

Conker passengers queueing for their train ride

Conker passengers queueing for their train ride

As I write this up in the kitchen in the quiet everything is on the brink of change again.

We are full house plus one extra girlfriend tonight.  No. 1 is going back to Bristol at the crack of dawn.  No 2 has decided he doesn’t want a gap year after all.  If they will let him he is going to try and undefer his deferred place.   It’s day two of freshers’ week tomorrow so if he manages he will not have missed much.  Babbit and Mouse are lying abandoned on the sitting room floor.  My daughter has a new best furry friend tonight.

Baby Mouse and "Baby "Babbit" Abandoned for the Night

Baby Mouse and “Baby “Babbit” Abandoned for the Night

Son no. four is asleep having not put his and his friend’s bikes away. Son no. three has finished a long piano playing session and is asleep.

Son no. two is back down here having cold shepherd’s pie – that went down well tonight even though I ran out of potatoes so it is topped with potato and supplementary carrot mash.

Shepherd's ie

Don’t stay up too late.  Night night.

Catherine xx