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Taking two toddlers for a walk: a case study

1050: I warn the two boys, who are busy fighting over who should play with which toy train, that we will soon be going to the playground, and that I wish to leave by 1100 sharp. They ignore me.

1053: Succeed in putting A's shoes on.

1054: Put my shoes on.

1058: Convince B to put his shoes on.

1100: Notice A's shoes are on the wrong feet; rearrange them.

1103: Realise A's all-in-one coat has to be put on before his shoes; remove his shoes; put his coat on; put his shoes on again.

1108: Put A's hat on. Can't find hats for me or B.

1116: Find my hat.

1120: Find B's hat. Open front door.

1123: We start to walk to the playground. B and A hold hands very nicely for the first three minutes.

1130: B moans that he's cold and wants to go home. I encourage him with exciteable chatter about how much fun it will be at the playground.

1133: B refuses to hold my hand while crossing the road. We stand shivering on the kerb, waiting for him to co-operate.

1134: B stops to pick up an interesting-looking stick. Happy now.

1135: B generously lets A play with the stick.

1136: A throws the stick over a hedge. B distraught. Tears and thrashings of limbs. Try to placate him with another stick. More tears.

1141: Arrive at playground, B sniffly but happier. It's absolutely bloody freezing. The two boys race off to play on the ice-cold slide.

1152: My nose is about to drop off through frostbite. Warn the (oblivious) children that we shall be "going home for some nice lunch" very soon.

1155: "Come on, let's go now!"

1202: Leave playground. Start walk home.

1204: B whining endlessly. He's cold and fed up. Demands lost stick.

1205: B treads in dog shit.

1210: We finish washing B's shitty shoe in a convenient puddle. Luckily, A is co-operative and stands still throughout, helpfully pointing out lumps of poo on B's shoe and in the puddle.

1211: Attempt to recommence walk home. Hair beginning to freeze to inside of hat.

1212: B moans about cold again, clutches my leg, wailing. Pick him up and stick him on my shoulders, despite risk of poo on coat, and with A's hand in mine, start marching downhill.

1222: Reach home, stick kettle on, feel like curling up in bed with hot water bottle and flagon of tea. Instead, make lunch for toddlers and A's mum, who thankfully met us earlier than I'd expected and whose presence makes keeping the two of them busy much easier. Decide not to attempt a trip to the playground until average weekly temperatures have risen at least another 10 degrees.

(24th January 2005)