It wouldn't be the Easter School Holidays would it, if we didn't brace ourselves for a Grand Day Outdoors, armed with buggy and coats and some friends (4 friends, to be precise) brave enough to invite us to join them for a train ride.
It sounded good: a ratio of 1 x adult per child and all travelling together, with plans to explore and see the sights, have lunch somewhere and go somewhere fun to play and then come home.
I have been to this place many times but it was a first for PJ.
I know she has been on a train before coming to me, but not sure how long the train journey was or how long ago or how often or how well she did it.
The train journey was OK. It was full of merriment and shared interest, between the 3 children, swapping seats and spotting trains and tracks and trying to say the station names and guess how many stops (or spots as they said) it would be before we reached our destination. Onlookers smiled politely.
One of the members of the group had a scooter and PJ was desperate to have a go and, being kind and generous in heart, they said yes. I let her have a ride around some of the tunnel walkways within the station, which satisfied her, before PJ got in the buggy and we left the station and went for our sightseeing tour. A boat trip. Top deck, surrounded by families and PJ kicked off. Mid tantrum, an entire family sitting next to us on the next bench got up and moved away. The spot remained vacant for some considerable time. So, PJ then used the bench to clamber over and again I pulled her back to me for fear of her hurting herself or falling down the steps. She objected again, of course.
My friends with me laughed and said but just think how far she and you have come to get to this point. Shame that family staring and tutting at you don't realise that and all that has gone before.
Good point and it was good to have their light hearted, take it all in your stride, approach - and to be reminded of the tiny small steps that have become the leaps and bounds we have made.
PJ gradually calmed and listened to my boundaries of not running around and enjoyed some of the views and gave up on pushing our friends and making them cry and said sorry and they became friends again and laughter and shared moments continued.
A quick run along the path and a scooter ride through the wind and crowds to the cafe for a welcome lunch. Make your own pizza and get your own chefs hat was a roaring success as was the long and winding stairs down to the toilets. We made several trips. Several.
Unfortunately for those paying customers in the restaurant, the wait towards the end for dessert and the bill was all a bit much for PJ. The concentration was lost and the urge to escape took hold. Across the long bench she travelled, past several tables all beautifully set, ready for the next customers, laden with elegant wine glasses. My attempt at a NO! fell on deaf ears but a quick grab, worked but the tears then ensued. I went for strapping her in the buggy but missed and the buggy shot backwards into the table behind where a man skillfully stopped it! PJ was by now squirming on the floor. I picked her up and gave her the chair to hold on to. After several attempts to reconnect her to the chair she complied and held on, whilst she put on her coat. The promise from her friend to have a go on the scooter when we get outside also helped her calm and re-focus.
She loved a short go on the scooter and then together, PJ and I practised walking hand in hand (with screams of protests) along the pavement with the buggy to our planned afternoon activity. A play centre. It was brilliant. Bricks to build with and levers and pulleys, a car to paint, a wall to climb and lights and crafts and water to pour. And, as PJ discovered, a few new found friends to push and shove. A fight quickly ensued over 2 toy dogs on a leash being carried in a wheel barrow and neither child was backing down. The older child said they had it first, so I got the dogs and gave them to the child and saod to PJ and the child that tehy would have the toy dogs as they had them first. Sure enough, a few minutes later, PJ emerged with one of the toy dogs and leash with a look of triumph but then dropped the toy and ran off to do something else. It was obviously all about the winning for both children as both toy dogs were left lying abandoned.
I did manage to drink a cup of tea with my friends before we gathered up our children to make the quick march back to the train station for the journey home.
We got fish and chips for tea on the way back home from the train station.
It seemed like a good end to a busy Day Out.
Even if we had a few hairy scary short moments that all ended very well without any damage to glasses being smashed or heads being bashed.
Thank you friends for sharing a day out with us and for reminding me of how far we have come, already.
The sun shone and the wind blew.
We all slept well.