It’s a typical start to the new year, with Rosie screaming and taking more than an hour to find underpants that fit, and me storming out, leaving Ben to sort things with her.
Well, I guess that’s a change. Ben is staying over for the holidays, helping to ease the load a bit, although his messiness adds to it, too. He seems to cancel out all the good he contributes (in cleaning, laundry and occasional cooking) with the cairns of used tissues he randomly drops and the tins of biscuits and assorted bits he strews everywhere in the kitchen and by the sofa.
Still, it’s a relief to have someone else to help discipline Rosie. When he’s awake, that is (more on that in a future post).
And I feel doubly justified in fleeing the house and leaving him to dress Rosie now that I know she has inherited this ‘syndrome’ from him. I know it’s an unfair thing to say, but it’s yet another thing I can blame him for, even if silently.
So, two hours later than planned, we finally set off for Kew Gardens, where we ramble through stately grounds and Victorian glass houses. Kew is stunning, even in the heart of winter. It would be more stunning if it actually snowed, but no such luck in London. Instead, we have muddy tracks and damp cold winds, although the sun is shining.
The Palm House – one of the 19th century glass structures dotting Kew – is a humid reprieve from the cold. We wander up its wrought iron spiral staircases and ogle the tops of banana and jak fruit trees, among others, spotting a purple bromeliad growing in the crook of a papaya tree.
Rosie is so excited, she only occasionally puts her hands inside her trousers to re-arrange her underpants, although this doesn’t last very long. There is a coral display as well, featuring sea horses, mud skippers, jellyfish, sticklebacks and many others, in an underground space beneath the Palm House, which she finds entrancing.
We brave the Pavilion restaurant with its pigeon-pooped tables, to have some overpriced fish pies and cakes, then meander further, taking in the temperate house and the Princess of Wales conservatory. Somewhere in between we take the treetop walk, swaying gently along the bridges, as if cradled in the arms of a lullaby.
And as we leave Kew, Rosie spots a peacock, strolling between visitors, evidently without meaning to because within moments, it is mobbed by children, phone-clutching parents and young women who all chase it down like a bunch of papparazi.
Once we are outside, Rosie chucks a three-course fit, involving weeping, recriminations and a fruit yoyo dashed tearfully to the ground. When we get home, Ben is cool and withdrawn. Rosie asks for some gingerbread, and he says no. She looks crestfallen. Ben says he is unimpressed by her behaviour and as she has had a treat all day (our visit to Kew), and as she has been very naughty either side of that visit, there will be no gingerbread – or any other treat for that matter.
I can’t argue with that. In fact, I abdicate all decision-making, saying it is up to Daddy today. Rosie eats up all her supper and is asleep by 7.45.
So, that was our new year. Some calm time together book-ended by argument. Life much as it has always been and no doubt means to continue.
Happy new year.
And here’s a little tune, introduced to me by an old friend of mine, that sums up that general feeling of ‘Oh, is that all, then?’ which the new year tends to bring.