My daughter declared herself fit for nursery the next morning, an assertion born out by the thermometer. And it turned out that her playdate had the class cold as well. So I strapped the spare child seat into the back of the car and headed in to collect both of them at lunchtime.
I wasn’t looking forward to it. I hadn’t been looking forward to it for a while in fact. For someone with one child, the idea of two to look after holds a great deal of uncertainty. And one of them genetically unrelated and therefore presumably immune to the usual cajolings. I arrived at school and feeling like a kidnapper collected both of them. “Where’s my mummy?” asked the playdate. I felt this wasn’t a good start, but he was easily placated and spouting reassurances I whisked them both off for lunch at home.
It was all very sweet. They are like a little married couple. My daughter tells him what to do and he (mostly) obeys. She showed him round the house and he sprayed toys around like a New York fire hydrant. I’ve almost forgotten the wonder I felt when my daughter first started having conversations with other children. But I still enjoy eavesdropping on these poignant little exchanges. She wanted to pretend they were at school and he wanted to take all his clothes off, but, hey, as long as they weren’t crying...
Lunchtime came along. In desperation to provide him with vegetables he would like (I believe that to be one of the toughest challenges involved in childcare) I had cooked up a great assortment. The tactic somewhat backfired though, as he made me pick out all those he didn’t like. It’s hard making other children eat. You can bully your own child into it but it doesn’t feel right with someone else’s somehow. Anyway, after the usual "If you...", "Just one, then..." dealmaking we departed for the park. The ball was a stroke of genius (to the extent that taking a boy to the park and providing a football can be genius) - he set off after it immediately like a golden retriever. We went to the playground. He fell off a slide, cried. I bought biscuits. And then - after looking at my watch only a very few times – it was soon time to deliver him home again. As we all said goodbye his beaming face told me he it had all been ok. Or was it that he was overjoyed to be home again.