Sometimes Mummy and Daddy wake up in the morning and decide we should go for a walk. Daddy always says that it will be fun, but we both know this is not true. We both know that it will be hot and sweaty, and I will get tired, and he will get tired, and Mummy will get tired, and then Mummy and Daddy will get cross with each other, and then I will lie down somewhere and refuse to get up and he will have to carry me, and….. Well, you know what I mean.
I tried to explain this to Daddy, but he told me to stop being silly and put on my shoes. He put Rosamund in the stroller, and Mummy changed into her walking shoes. After I put on my shoes I sat in my room feeling a little glum until Daddy called to me from the hall with his fake cheery voice, and we set off.
We headed down the road past the trees that go to the deep dark forest, and then up past the hockey fields.
While I am walking I like to explain about everything I see. Mummy and Daddy don’t really seem to notice things when they are walking. They usually end up talking about someone called John who they don’t like. Sometimes I try and explain that there is a lot of grass, or that there is a tree, or a bee bumbling about, or a bug on the ground, or a lot of stones by the post by the tree near the grass, but Daddy usually grunts, and then makes me stop and look at a plane in the sky, and then talks for a long, long time about how amazing it is that planes can fly. This is silly. He has just walked past about three bees, ten midges and a dragonfly and never once stopped to say they were amazing even though I pointed to them, and pulled his hand, and shouted.
The hill is very high and it keeps going and going and when I try to get Daddy to stop he says it’s “just a little bit further”.
I don’t like the way that Rosamund is looking at me from the stroller. A feel that it is a bit smug. I wonder about how quickly I could unclip her restraints, dump her in a bush and climb in the stroller before anyone noticed. I pretend to cuddle Rosamund but Daddy growls about keeping going. He’s looking a bit sweaty. He says I had better keep walking “or else”.
After I lie down on the footpath and wail for a while it turns out that “or else” means “or else I’ll have to carry you up the hill on my shoulders while I push Rosamund in the stroller in the… hot sun.” Daddy almost says the word he’s not allowed to say before he says hot sun, but he manages to stop himself.
It turns out it is quite a long way up the hill.
Daddy begins to talk quite movingly about dying, but when I ask why he says something about exhaustion that I don’t catch because my hands are gripping on around his throat and he seems to be choking. I ask him if I can go to sleep on his head, but he says no. I ask him if he can hurry up. He says no. I tell him his shoulders are uncomfortable, but Daddy seems to be sunk in a trance.
A car passes by and gives a friendly honk as we finally get to the top of the hill, and Daddy suddenly straightens and tries to wave, but he looks a bit like he is trying to call for help. I get off Daddy at the top of the hill and try to interest him in a running around and around and around game, but he is slumped in a bush. I think he needs to get more exercise.
On the way down the other side of the hill I realise I need to go to the toilet. I tell Mummy and Daddy. Whenever I tell them I have to go to the toilet when we are out they both look cross. They say “you’ll just have to wait”, but we are standing right next to some trees and I could just go behind the tree. I try to explain about the trees but they say “don’t be ridiculous” and we have to walk for ages past birds pooing in the trees, and dogs pooing on the footpath, and cats scratching in the gardens. I try and explain again about the trees. “It’s not clean” Daddy says. Not clean! Does he even see the public toilets he takes me to?
I ask Daddy to carry me on his shoulders again, but he seems reluctant. “I am not carrying you on my shoulders when you want to go to the toilet.” I lie down on the ground. There is a dead weta on the ground. It looks amazing. I prod it a little bit and it flops onto its back. I hear Daddy panting as he climbs back up the hill to get me. I show him the weta. Daddy’s face is a funny expression. Sort of a cross between irritation, exhaustion and horror. He agrees to carry me on his shoulders if I “put down the… weta”. He almost says the naughty word again.
In the public toilets I try to point out how dirty it is and mention the trees again, but Daddy tells me to hurry up. I want to know why there is writing on all of the walls. “Naughty people do it.” Naughty people? What does this even mean? I want to know what it says, but Daddy won’t tell me. Something about a phone number and good times. This doesn’t sound naughty. I ask if we can write our phone number on the wall and Daddy laughs. It’s the kind of laugh that means no.
Mummy is waiting with the stroller when we come out of the toilets. She tells Daddy that Rosamund is looking tired. Looking tired? She’s been sitting in the stroller the whole time. Mummy and Daddy are the ones who look tired.
We get to the last little hill before our house and I make Daddy take the wiggly-woggly track that cuts between the zig-zagging path. The prickly bushes have little yellow sweet smelling flowers on them, and the tree roots surface and dive in the hard clay track. There are bits of shiny broken glass, and bees lumbering about in the grass. Daddy suddenly seems quite cheerful, and says “wiggly-woggly” a few times.
I sense that now would be a good time to talk about my expectations around Christmas.