Monday, 11 February 2013

The Map of Doom...

Cabin fever.  Its a real thing.  I didn't know what it was until I had children.  Now that I have three children I am very familiar with the phenomena that is cabin fever.  I can only describe it as a feeling of utter despair and isolation.  After an unreasonable amount of time sat in front of the TV watching children's programmes that usually involve singing vegetables or freakishly ugly animated infants, cabin fever will set in.

My advice to anyone who is currently owned by a small child is GET OUT!  Get out of the house.

If its cold, put a coat on.
If its raining, get wet.
If its the end times and fire and brimstone are raining down, grab a fire extinguisher,put on a bike helmet and hope for the best.

Do not stay in the house.  If you do you'll end up talking to yourself in the mirror just to have a conversation with a grown-up.  Either that or you'll become well practised in all of the dance moves from the end scene in Despicable Me.  I've done both of these things.

Not so long ago I had a case of cabin fever.  As the only cure for cabin fever is leaving the house, I loaded the kids and the dog in the car and headed for the woods.

The local woods is actually a large nature reserve surrounding a golf course and has a couple of lakes.  Pretty standard stuff.  There are several car parks for the woods and each has its own map that displays the various walking routes, a rough description of the terrain and the estimated walking time.  I chose a walk that was described as "easy" and "approximately 1 hour".  Lies.  All lies.

The twins are young enough to require a pushchair as they get easily tired.  They're also old enough to hate the pushchair.  I decided to let the twins walk but took the pushchair along just in case.  It was all going well.  The dog was being reasonably behaved and hadn't left any paw prints on any passers-by or rolled in any excrement.  The children were walking happily, the drizzle had stopped and the sun was shining.  It was a good feeling.

After about 45 minutes of walking, Thing 1 ran into a puddle.  Not just any puddle, a very deep, very large and very brown puddle.  One that came up to her thighs, spilling over her wellies filling them with cold, muddy water.  Thing 1 has a curious habit of lying on the floor screaming and kicking to demonstrate her displeasure at something.  This usually doesn't achieve much besides publicly humiliating me and getting lots of tuts and heads shaken in our direction.  On this occasion it achieved submersion in cold, muddy water. Bad decision on Thing 1's part.
I fished Thing 1 out of the puddle and attempted in vain to dry her off with my scarf and a sock that I found in the back of the pushchair.  As I was preoccupied with trying to clean up my child that now resembled Morph, Thing 2 was squelching in the squishy mud by the puddle just as Noo took a run up and leaped into the puddle, displacing about 50% of the water in the direction of Thing 1, covering her head to toe in muddy water, putting both her and Noo in the same state of filthiness as Thing 2.
No amount of scarves or socks would clean this lot up so I headed for the car, according to the map we only had 15 minutes to walk. 
I picked up the pace and walked on with my shivering tribe following on behind me like a mother duck with three mangy, dirty ducklings.
Another 25 minutes passed by, all of the children were still snivelling and whimpering pathetically.  Eventually I saw a sign for the car park.  The children all cheered when I told them we were nearly back at the car and I breathed a huge sigh of relief until we got to the car park and I saw the map of doom.
We weren't just in the wrong car park - we were in the wrong car park on the wrong side of the woods.
The twins were exhuasted and the sound of three sets of wet wellies squelching along was irritating so I decided to put them in the pushchair.  They disagreed with my decision and both of them locked their hips into a straight line meaning that the only way to get them into the pushchair is by physically folding and bending their bodies into something resembling a seated position.
The walk back was long and miserable and yes, I did actually have a little cry during one of the many, many renditions of "5 Little Speckled Frogs" that I sung unsuccessfully attempting to placate the now inconsolable twins.  It was getting dark, the kids tea-time was fast approaching, I was surrounded by three crying, muddy, cold children., I was tired and hungry and my wellies were rubbing my feet.  It was a bad feeling.
2 and a half hours after we parked our car and headed merrily into the woods, we arrived back at the car.  It was the last car left in the car park and Noo ran up put her arms against the car and kissed the door repeatedly saying "I'm so happy to see you car".
Despite this tale of woe, I'd take getting lost in the woods with three muddy children and a dog over a case of cabin fever any day.  Just next time I'll pay closer attention to the map.

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