Parenting tip of the day: don’t leave the house.
There’s a Mum coming towards me. She has that look that parents have just before they inform me that one of my children has done something unspeakable. I know that look so well. My blood freezes.
Rewind an hour. The local wildlife centre is extending their softplay, and as is traditional for English builders, the water main has been accidentally severed.
“We might have to close.” The staff say worriedly. But they don’t close. We’re British. We’re sensible. Unflappable. Closing would be excessive. Almost extremism. So instead we all just carry on without really thinking it through.
“There’s no water.” My brain says when my son flushes the loo. “Why didn’t you tell me that before?” I ask my brain. It doesn’t answer. All right son, wash your hands. “There’s no water.” my brain repeats wearily.
I decide to go and get myself a lovely, de-stressing cup of coffee.
“I’m sorry, there’s no water.” The lady informs me sadly. I stand, open mouthed.
This is getting truly serious. Hand washing and coffee are the two central pillars of parenthood. Structurally, I need those pillars. But we’re British. So we carry on.
I’m chatting, not paying attention to my children. My daughter probably needs a nappy by now. What’s the worst that could happen? We’re British. I’ll just carry on chatting. Everything will be fine.
Then the Mum comes, and time slows down. The other parents are holding their children back, horrified. The slide, from top to bottom, is covered in a thick streak of human poo. My daughters nappy has exploded.
“Do something!” My brain screams at me. I spring into action. What I do is a sort of a dance. I hop about, flapping my hands as if I’m impersonating a butterfly. And I make this sound: “Wha wha wha wah no aah wha aah wha aah oooooh god. Wha?”
None of this helps. I go to the toilet to get water. “There’s no water!” My brain screams at me. I grab toilet roll and rush back to start smearing the poo all over the slide. It’s sort of like painting. The staff are informed and I hear them say “Oh no! There’s no water!”
This is one of the many situations that being British does not automatically prepare you for. The solution is simple: I refer you back to my parenting tip of the day.