Ever have one of those surreal 'how did I get here' moments? I had one at 10am last Sunday morning; standing shivering outside my front door singing 'Old Macdonald' through the letterbox, with a toddler wearing an oversized fleece.
How had it happened? Read on and learn....
I forgot one of the golden rules of having small children; never, ever go outside without a key. And I wouldn't, normally, but in this case I thought I was just nipping out for a few seconds, to wipe some offending bird poo off our front window. However, once outside, I noticed (well, OK, remembered - I had been noticing for months) that the short pathway between the street and our front door was a disgrace; it seemed to have become the receptacle for not only about three years' worth of autumn leaves, but a tonne of random rubbish; crisp packets, old takeaway boxes knawed by foxes and weird bits of plastic piping (detritus from the Thames Water trench diggers, who have now thankfully departed).
So I went to get a broom, threw on an old fleece of The Doctor's, and started sweeping. Littleboy 1, who loves brooms, then rushed out holding another brush, and wanted to help.
It was at this point that Littleboy 2 came along and helpfully slammed the door shut on us.
The Doctor was out - he was on call and had gone briefly to the hospital - and I had no key, no mobile phone nor any suitable clothes to protect Littleboy1 (who was wearing jeans, t-shirt and socks) against the brisk November chill. The sky threatened rain. What to do?
I peered around our street. It was spookily silent, with most of the curtains closed. As mentioned previously, we live on the unfashionable edges of the real Nappy Valley, so most of our neighbours are not other families with small children who would have been up for hours at 10am on a Sunday. These days, the majority seem to be cheerful twentysomething Aussies who work in the City and party hard at weekends, and who are definitely going to be in bed on a Sunday morning. Even the handful of neighbours that we know quite well didn't appear to be around. And stupidly, we had not got around to giving anyone a spare key since the good friends we had in the street moved away three years ago.
Now, I knew that soon, The Doctor would be on his way home - but how long could we wait outside for? I began weighing up various scenarios - could I be prosecuted for leaving a nearly-two year old alone in the house - even if I could see him through the letterbox?
It was OK at first. Littleboy 2 was quite pleased with himself for slamming the door, and the two boys took great delight in passing stuff (bricks, lego, even the TV remote) to each other through the letterbox. But then he got bored, and started whimpering. He wanted a cuddle from Mummy. And, although he could see me through the letterbox, he could not understand why I was unable to get in. Meanwhile, Littleboy 1 (who kept excitedly repeating, 'we can't get in the house, Mummy') was getting cold, so I wrapped him in his dad's fleece.
Ten minutes now and no sign of the Doctor. Littleboy 2's whimpering escalated into full blown hysterical crying.
Eventually I picked up the shoe-less Littleboy 1 and marched up to one of the neighbouring Aussie houses - the only one that had a light on. A genial young Aussie bloke wearing shorts (or were they pyjamas?) and munching on a bowl of ceareal opened up and kindly let me use the phone. The Doctor assured me that he would be home within 15 minutes.
Littleboy 1 was offered the option of sitting and watching TV in the Aussie house, but became uncharacteristically shy and refused. So, we spent the next quarter of an hour standing on the doorstep, trying desperately to keep Littleboy 2 happy by singing songs through the letterbox. All I could see was his distressed little face peering up at me, and the moment I stopped singing it would crumple. So we went through Twinkle twinkle little star, Baa baa black sheep, Row, row row the boat - and all the farm animals I could think of in Old McDonald. By the time we were on 'monkey', The Doctor arrived home.
Littleboy 1 was most impressed by this adventure and spent the rest of the day explaining to people: "Mummy not got her key. I can't get in MY house. DADDY done it."
He has clearly got the measure of me. Yet again, crap mummy.