It has been a productive afternoon at the shopping centre. After al fresco Pizza Express lunch, Catrin had a haircut and can now see past her fringe again. I tried to persuade her to sit still as the hairdresser wielded her scissors, but “stay still like a statue” was met with “but I can move my tongue?” (as she stuck her tongue out and wiggled it about for the entire salon’s benefit). This concept was then tested on various other body parts from fingers to ankles to elbows…I had to stop her at ‘whole arm’ before she ended up with an asymmetrical bob.
We popped by a children’s clothes shop next…Catrin clutched her shorts and hopped from foot to foot as I was at the checkout…the lady at the till made the mistake of remarking “does someone need a wee?”. The reply was as loud and lacking in decorum as a hen party in Southend: “I NEED A POO!” The till lady was taken aback and could only respond with an embarrassed giggle. She asked the question and she got an honest answer.
Finally, we went to Clark’s to buy Bethan’s first cruising shoes. She sat on my lap spraying slobber from her enthusiastic raspberries all over the shop assistant, who was kneeling in front of us measuring Bethan’s feet. I tried to prevent her from grabbing the shop lady’s hair and stopped her from lunging off my lap on her quest to grab shop lady’s glasses, while simultaneously praising the oversized fake Duplo truck which Catrin had made on the bench next to us.
We chose the first pair Bethan tried on…the pair she had been wearing when she crawled off at speed across the shop floor with her eyes on the chewiest-looking shoes on the bottom shelf. With her first shoes chosen, her photo was taken for her ‘First shoes’ card (with her fingers shoved in her mouth, grinning through the teething pain). This is a coming-of-age milestone in her life (one of many)…and I couldn’t help but imagine her one day as an adult opening her box of childhood memories and seeing this pair of shoes. What sort of person will she turn out to be? What will she think about when she holds those tiny shoes in her hand? She won’t remember what it felt like to be a baby, or my elation at her first roll over, her first crawl, her first pulled-herself-up-to-standing position. It is moments like these which make me feel all funny inside…sort of a mixture of excitement for my daughters’ futures and grief for the little baby phase which has passed all too soon. Maybe, one day, they might read this, glance at their own children and understand exactly what I mean.