Somehow, I managed to get to two and a half weeks without ever really being left in sole command of Lumpy. Sure, there had been periods of half an hour or so, when my keepers had slipped out to breathe fresh, un-nappified air and get essential supplies (generally squashy white bread, pate, brie, and hard liquor), but until last Friday I had not had a day without extra help and supervision. But it was time. Badger and Lumpy needed to go solo, and attempt to survive a whole day with just one another to look after.
The morning went surprisingly well. I managed to write a blog post, with Lumpy lying on my lap, transfixed by the computer screen. There was a minor grizzle meltdown mid-morning, when I may have attempted to do something like make a drink or empty the washing machine, and dared to remove my attention and rocking ministrations from the Lumpy for a full minute, but I had yet to break out the secret weapon - the walk in the pram. Lumpy, you see, loves his car seat, and can go from screaming to sleep faster than a greased ferret up a trouser leg simply by being wheeled 15 feet across the car park. So, I bundled him into the car seat, strapped his flailing, wailing little form in, and raced to attach it to the magic wheels and get a-wheeling.
He bravely resisted sleep for a full five minutes, heavy eyes struggling against closure, but he had, essentially, stopped squalling. We reached the library, and I somehow managed to manoeuvre the pram up the ramp and through the doors (I did note that the pram seemed particularly recalcitrant and unmanouvreable, but assumed this was just my amateur status and utter lack of driving skill, and continued bashing it around corners and rebounding it off conveniently placed peoples ankles to get where I was going. I threw the two books I was returning at the assistant and hauled the pram backwards through the doors.
Then it was on to Cowley Centre - somewhere I have become very familiar with over the past few weeks. This is a shopping centre on the edge of the delightful Blackbird Leys estate (the place joyriding was invented, and where I used to work at the sports centre - perfect for witnessing casual drug deals in the car park, interrupting cottaging incidents in the men's changing rooms, and having your phone stolen every time you turned your back). It is a chav's paradise if ever there was one - containing only shops of an, ahem 'budget' nature. Iceland, Wilko's, Poundland, three other versions of Poundland with slightly differing names (such as the cunningly undercutting '99p stores'), Greggs, Bon Marche, Savers, Shoezone, Peacocks... If you're after disposable tat or deep-fried frozen 'food', this is your place. But it's 15 minutes walk from the Badger residence, and there's a cafe that sells Tango Ice Slush drinks, so it's a daily essential for me and Lumpy (he insists on a mega-cup of the blue raspberry flavour every day - and who am I to deny my darling son?)
And so we wheeled ourselves up the ramp and joined the rest of the hard-faced pram pushers. I bought an astonishingly expensive, but surprisingly nice, skirt from Bon Marche (£22.50!! I was under the impression you could buy the whole shop for that! But it was nice, honest. Or maybe the baby is sucking my brain out, and I now think curtain-like old lady skirts are top fashion. Who knows?) I then had fun trying to steer the pram around a rammed-full charity shop, and bought a James Bond novel for Mr Badger for 75p. Spendaholic tendencies quieted for the day, we turned around (with difficulty) and headed home.
And then it started to all go a bit wrong. Lumpy, who had slept the instant his car seat was attached to the wheels, woke up the instant it was removed from said wheels. He stared around suspiciously for a moment, and then started bawling. I raced inside and placated him with a strategic boob. Phew. Crisis averted! But no. The silence was short-lived, as Lumpy went into his 'feed for two minutes, scream in outrage' mode (despite extensive searching, I have so far failed to find the reset button to switch this off. Or a volume control, for that matter. A stern letter will be written to the manufacturers, have no doubt). Try as I might, I find it rather distressing (and not a little insulting) to have my son scream in disgust and horror while still attached to my boob, so this was all a bit trying. Before long, I was bawling more than Lumpy, berating myself for being The Worst Mother in the World (TM).
We managed to fill the next three hours or so in this delightful way, and then I had another excuse to bung him in the pram again and hit the streets. We were, rather appropriately, off to the pub, to meet Mr Badger and his merry work mates for an end of week pint. And, praise be, this required a long and soothing walk into town. Once again, Lumpy decelerated from outraged to comatose in 3.6 seconds, and slept solidly the whole way. So effective was this cure that he remained asleep for the whole time we were in the pub, despite pounding rock music and much shouting (we rule at choosing appropriate places to take our son, oh yeah).
In celebration and relief, I had half a pint of lager and felt rather giddy and lightheaded. In my prime, I was a girl who could sink 9 pints of Stella with barely a wobble and only minor puking. Oh Lumpy, what have you reduced me to? And it only took one day (and 9 months or so).
POSTSCRIPT: I found out several days later that the front wheels on the pram were locked into position, making it virtually impossible to turn, hence my general spazdom and ankle-crashing antics. I am a tool.