It’s been a hectic old week at the Whittle household.
Flea’s been off school, we’d had plumbers in fitting a new boiler, new radiators and fixing the bathroom leaks and what-not. And I’ve been working, madly trying to finish off everything that needs to be finished before my Christmas break – which I am DEFINITELY taking this year.
So that’s my excuse for hastily hiding an M&S plastic bag in the spare bedroom when I got back from a shopping trip with my Mum – a shopping trip where I’d painstakingly bought a dozen or so small gifts to go into Flea’s stocking, along with a copy of Kerplunk. Since I invited my Mum to play Words with Friends, I feel I need at least one game where I am unlikely to be thrashed on a daily basis.
There was the key-ring in the shape of Stitch, her favourite Disney character.
The super soft super-hero socks.
The jelly beans in a tiny keepsake tin.
The new book.
The Disney quiz card game that I thought she could play with her cousins on Boxing Day.
And I was quietly ever so pleased with myself since with these purchases it meant my Christmas shopping was DONE with a whole week to spare. I know. Just call me Mother Christmas.
Except it all went wrong yesterday when Flea and I were rushing to get ready for swimming, and Flea couldn’t find her dive sticks.
“Maybe they’re in the spare bedroom with the sleeping bags,” I guessed.
Flea rushed upstairs. Five minutes later she still wasn’t back.
A horrible thought struck me.
It wasn’t until bedtime last night, I got a moment to broach the subject. I decided to go softly, to begin with. “Oh, hey, Flea, did you see that copy of Ker-plunk I got?” I asked, cheerfully.
Flea froze, waiting to see where I was heading with this one.
Thing with kids is, you’ve got to lull them into a false sense of security during an interrogation. “Only, I thought it might be fun to play on Christmas Eve, I forgot to mention it to you,” I continued, airily.
Falling into my trap, Flea replied: “Yes, I saw it, Mummy! Do you know how to play?” she said, little eyes aglow.
“Sure,” I said carelessly. “What else didja see? I had a few other bits I thought might be fun…”
Flea proceeded to reel off a full and complete inventory of the M&S bag’s contents.
“There were some socks, Mummy, and I think they’re for a child because they were quite small…”
“For the kid next door, don’t you remember me mentioning it?”
“And there were some sweets…”
“For the church. There’s a collection on Christmas Eve.”
“And then there was a key-ring with Stitch on.”
“For your cousin. She loves Stitch.”
“And some cards…”
“They’re for Grandma.”
I almost got caught out by the new book and the PJs, but I told Flea that those were a special surprise for her that I’d planned to put in a surprise Christmas Eve sack for us to enjoy together before she went to bed on Christmas Eve. Thanks are owed to Chris for that particular bit of on-the-spot inspiration.
Like all good near-misses, we’ve both been left frustrated and overwrought.
Flea cried for 20 minutes because, “Now I won’t get to enjoy my special surprise Christmas Eve sack, and you’re disappointed and I don’t want you to be disappointed at Christmas, and besides, I don’t think Father Christmas would want to know that I let you down so close to Christmas Eve…”
And I came downstairs and considered crying because now I have to go shopping on Monday when I’d rather poke my eyes out with sharpened candy canes. Not only do I need to replace the contents of the sodding Christmas Stocking but I also now need to buy new items for a bloody Christmas Eve surprise sack, not to mention the bloody Christmas Eve sack itself, after I found myself comforting Flea by telling her I’d replace the contents of the previously non-existent surprise festive item.
THIS is what happens when you do your shopping early, people.
Let that be a lesson to you.