‘La,la,la,la,la’ says my son as he walks through the leafy park, ‘La,la,la,la’. This would be nice, if he was singing a tuneful ditty, or maybe humming along to himself.
But he’s not. He’s holding his left arm out to the side in a bid to stop it hurting him. He’s just had a tumble in a new park, or should I say new to us. Our first visit to this green and pleasant area (with pond!) and it’s already shaping up to be memorable for all the wrong reasons.
‘La, la, la,’ he says again, in what is surely the world’s worst Kylie Minogue impression. Maybe we should go back to the car, I suggest. Oh no, no we can’t do that. Go back to the car and get some aid? Maybe use it to go home to put a plaster on the offending arm (it’s bleeding, and even to my eyes looks bad). ‘I want to stay here for five more minutes daddy’ he says, between la, la las, and with tears streaming down his face.
So we stay. Me pushing his 18-month-old sister in the wonderfully maneuverable trike, and him walking along like a mini-member of The Walking Dead.
‘Hurts me daddy, it hurts me’. I know, I tell him, but it will get better. ‘Will it?’ He asks with his big four-year-old eyes full of hope. Yes, it will, but it will just take a while I say.
‘la, la, la’ he continues heading through the park. And of course because these kind of things can never happen in a nice quiet area, we have company. The man with the dog, and in fact his dog, are wondering what’s going on with the wailing kid.
The lady from playgroup, and her daughter, who will now remember me as ‘that bloke who wouldn’t take his kid home after he hurt his arm’ she’s also there. We bumped into her when we first got here.
That all seems like a long time ago.
‘La,la,la’ He’s heading out of the park now, towards a well-to-do looking housing estate. There’s a little path leading to it. At the head of the path are two snogging teenagers. I remember being a teenager. The world disappeared when I was kissing a girl, nothing else mattered. That being said, I never enjoyed a tryst with a girl while a four-year-old shakily approached me, crying and holding his arm. They look around. They stare. I stare back. “He’s had a little tumble” I explain. ‘aww’ goes the girl. “But he won’t go back in the car” I continue. The girl nods as if in sympathy. “So here I am”, I finish, looking like father-of-the-year. The boy doesn’t say anything, he just wants us to go so he can reattach himself to the girl.
We continue forward into the (blessedly) quiet estate. Maybe we should go home now, I suggest. My son looks at me, big eyes turned up to 11. ‘It hurts Daddy, why does it hurt?’. I draw on all my 11-months experience of being a stay-at-home dad. “Well”, I begin, “if we go home we can put a plaster on it, and then If you let me clean it and you’re a brave boy I can give you a Moshi Monster sticker as a reward”. ‘Will that make it better daddy?’ he asks me. “Yes” I lie, to his face.” Yes it will”.