This, my friends, is a lesson learned the hard way. This is the one about the trip to the cinema. Solo adult. Alone. With kids.
A few weeks back 1st & 2nd born were on half term. Fool herself decided to carefully orchestrate life in such a way that reward charts were filled in a timely enough fashion to merit a trip to the cinema. It is worth noting that 2nd born’s task, for completion of said chart, was to leave her bacteria ridden, ratty eared, foul smelling, sucked to death, “Rabba” in bed under her pillow each morning. This thing should come with a health warning but it was the mere mention of an overbite the size of the grand canyon by the dentist that prompted me to take matters into my own hands. Let’s just say if this doesn’t work “Rabba” (the rabbit) will be having ear surgery pretty soon.
But back to the cinema trip. It’s been said that failing to plan is planning to fail. Having fallen at this hurdle a few too many times than I care to recall I decided that I would leave no stone unturned in my prep’ for this trip. Tickets were purchased online and printed at home. Seats were reserved in specific locations. My handbag was LADEN with the promised confectionary & a few bottles of water for good measure. No flies on me. And most importantly I was IN THE ZONE.
All’s I had to do was get to the shopping centre, park the car, get 2 ice-creams & 1 coffee and sit down to enjoy the movie. Simples.
Let me recount briefly how things unfolded.
Emotion 1: Stress (increased Heartbeat)
“All under control – we have 10 minutes before the movie starts. Long enough to get in & sit but not too long that I end up tormented. Now, parking. Red lights, red lights, red lights….c’mon lady drive on! Made it through. Rightio, I’ll just park up & we’re off”
*7 minutes & 3 laps of the entire shopping centre later “Oh FFS, why are all these people who arrived AFTER me getting spaces. I am Jonah…..I need to just stay here and not move rather than driving around. Oh but I can’t. My nerves are making me keep on doing laps. YES, yes, yes there is a teeny, tiny spot over there. I’ll squeeeeeeeeze it in and shur can’t the kids climb out the passenger window at the front cos it’ll be so tight“ *silently commends myself on innovation.
Emotion 2: Fear (Heart rate still high, accompanied by heavy breathing)
Run, my children, run!! Cue me, half-walking, half running, dragging my bag full of contraband behind me, half choking me and half cutting off the oxygen to anywhere below my left shoulder. Damned if I do and damned if I don’t here folks. Keep running and there will be a melt-down regarding tired legs but stop and run the risk of melt down in the dark whilst negotiating the stairs of the cinema once the under 7’s have discovered we have missed the opening scene.
However their resilience on this occasion surprises me and I briefly allow myself to contemplate for them a hugely successful career in athletics in the future.
Emotion 3: Shame (The urge to start crying & shaking whilst curled up in a ball)
I begin my fartlek training session now. You see the next 15 minutes consisted of high paced shuttle runs to and from the shop with 30 seconds rest between each rep to ensure the childers were still in their seats, not stolen or not wandering aimlessly around the theatre.
I feel shame on several occasions:
- When I purchase the ice-creams and on my opening bag to retrieve my wallet, about a tonne of chocolate buttons fall out on the counter – so obviously purchased elsewhere – and I get a knowing look from the young scooper.
- When I blatantly order a large popcorn & 2 plastic ikea bowls fall out of my bag onto the counter in front of popcorn server, followed swiftly by 2 tesco own brand kiddie bottle of water. Yes, I take that disapproving stare on board, young man.
- When I disrupted the family seated behind us for the 3rd time in 12 minutes.
Primark is coming up trumps in the clothing department here with 1st born!!!!
And so I enlisted help – in the form of what appeared to be a 12 year old university student. I beckoned the ‘lucky’ young fella over to me to open doors (repeatedly) whilst I completed my
sprint session purchases. And do you know what I saw? Emotion 4: Despair (Sweat patches under arm – thoughts of him getting himself new part time job to pay for his beer).
Yes it was etched across his pubescent face. And I don’t blame him. At this point I would despair if I saw me coming too. Kinda like how I feel looking when I catch sight of my travelling circus in a shop window somedays.
This however sped things up somewhat & so I soon found myself sitting in dark alongside 2nd born.
And so I sat – sweat rolling off me. I smelled my Americano and had the tinsyiest sip. This is going to be fine.
“Mama, I need the toilet”
The time at this point was 4:39pm. And how do I know this? Because from here on in this will be remembered as the EXACT time that the last remaining shed of Emotion 6: Joy inside me shrivelled up and died. It now resides in emotional heaven right alongside sympathy, sanity & their long lost cousin empathy.
Things began to look fairly grim for happiness also.6 minutes, 4 wiped down toilet seats before we found the ‘right’ one & 1 freak out because someone used the hand dryer later, we resettled and apologised (again) to all around us.
There in the dark, I felt something. A little hand. Rest upon my knee.
Big blue eyes staring straight ahead, transfixed and unsure whether to be happy or scared at what was unfolding on screen. This little hand just needing to know I was there, should it’s owner require.
And then I felt it: LOVE.
It gets you through when things are looking a bit hairy. With that I sank back into my seat, forgot all the drama and exhaled, safe in the knowledge that there ain’t no superhero coming on that screen that can replace me in their eyes.
C’mon Alvinn, Simone & Theodore – do your worst. I’ve got this.
Your’s, anticipating the April release of The Jungle Book with relish,