THE missus is going out straight from work. This isn’t a problem.
THE Missus is going straight out from work to meet up with friends for drinks and dinner. As a forward-thinking, hands-on, 21st-century-kinda-dad, this isn’t a problem to me.
I’m off work so I figure the best idea is to take the children somewhere during the day to exhaust themselves, let them watch some Peppa Pig while I make dinner, then get them in bed early so I can have a long, relaxing evening that includes sole rights to the remote control.
What I haven’t bargained for is the fact that the Missus’ directions to the outdoor play area she went to with some friends the other week, and where I’ve promised I’ll take the children today, are what you might call ‘sketchy’.
“It’s at Spofforth,” she tells me. “Oh right,” I say. “On the way to Wetherby then?”
“Erm, I guess so,” she says.
“Where exactly though?”
“You definitely take a right turn somewhere,” she says after a while. “Hold on, it could have been a left...”
In the end I decide to take a punt on my three-year-old son’s Rainman-like memory and ask him to direct me as we drive into the village.
“It’s straight up here and down this big hill,” he says confidently, as we abruptly hit a dead end.
“It’s down there,” he tells me, pointing into a fenced-off farmer’s field.
I phone the Missus from the car to explain the situation.
“Right,” she says. “I’m pretty sure he was asleep when we arrived.”
“I suspected as much,” I say.
In the end I ask a dogwalker for directions. As we finally pull into the play area car park, my son pipes up again.
“It’s just here daddy,” he says, in a tone of weary frustration at my inability to follow simple instructions.
Once we have unpacked the picnic, I quickly realise I haven’t banked on my children’s willingness to embrace the art of going to the toilet ‘al fresco’ that they’ve perfected with their mum. With no toilet on the site (a nearby mum cheerily informs it will have to be ‘camping diddles’), the pair of them proceed to do a combined three poos and two wees in the longish grass – the former of which I have to remove one by one with baby wipes while the cheery mum (looking slightly less cheery now) and her family try their best not to look while eating their picnic.
We make it home and by some miracle I manage to get them bathed and into their beds before 7pm, despite being made to read no fewer than five stories.
It’s only when I’m sitting on the sofa and flicking through the TV channels that I hear strange, excited noises from their bedroom. Opening the door, I am confronted by two children with their bedtime nappies ripped off, dancing in the midst of unmistakeable brown marks all over the beige carpet.
“We were making muddy footprints,” my son explains while I give him his second bath of the evening, in the clear belief that his scatalogical protest was entirely reasonable.
Before scrubbing the carpet (not particularly effectively, as I will discover the next day) I take a photograph and send it to the Missus.
“Hope you’re enjoying dinner,” I write. “I’d love to be able to tell you that this is just chocolate...”
Secretly, I hope by this time she’s made it to dessert.