Having made a special effort to get ready for a rare night out with my lovely husband, I was feeling very glam and un-Mum-like as I wafted down the stairs in my new maxi dress. Little Elf stared at me in horror, “Why is your hair all big Mummy?” She was looking at me like I’d swapped faces with a stranger! Ha, ha, ha! I laughed in what I hoped was a tinkling fashion rather than a witch-like cackle. “Because I’m going out with Daddy for dinner!”
She wasn’t impressed. In fact she was not only sceptical about my “big hair” but also about the idea that Going-Out-With-Daddy had to exclude her in any way. “I’ll come too,” she said firmly. “I’ll fetch my Peppa Pig bag and you can carry me in your arms.” Any explanations about why grown-ups sometimes liked to go out alone were lost on her, even the promise of Grandma who was thought to be in possession of a Kinder Egg and on her way to visit, went unheeded.
“I will coooooome toooooooo!” she went. “I aaaam cooooooming toooooo!” Poor Granny had to do a fair bit of bribing and “funny singing” before the Elf settled down. It’s our fault of course. We have never, not once gone out for the evening whilst Elf is awake. We’ve always done it sneakily, letting Granny in with hushed whispers whilst Elf is asleep, in order that we can go out for dinner in peace. But this time it wasn’t to be and Elf witnessed the earth shattering truth that is, “Sometimes Parents Don’t Want Your Company”.
The next day she had forgotten all about it of course, but it did make me resolve to be more upfront about our need to go out alone in future. We don’t even go out every week unlike my own parents. I remember the excitement of watching them get ready for their Friday nights out, the perfume and the swishy clothes, the promise of a bottle of pop to be fetched back from the pub and sometimes…oh thrills…a fluffy monkey on a palm-tree-stick from Mum’s cocktail! I had for some reason, got into the habit of sheltering my Elves from our rare forays into society…maybe because Granny was nervous of babysitting at first; she never wanted the worry of fractious toddlers, she wanted to sit quietly on my sofa with Miss Marple and a cuppa safe in the knowledge that the girls were fast asleep and ignorant of her presence…and fair enough! But in retrospect it would have been much easier from the start if we hadn’t hidden our rave-ups from the Elves. It’s good for them to see their Mum and Dad having a treat and who knows…they might even get a bottle of pop one of these days!