For reasons too convoluted to go into here, Heather and I had to rejig our Mother’s Day plans and spend yesterday 100 miles apart with our respective mothers – she with Toby, me with Zac.
I’ve had Zac on my own for the day plenty of times in the past, but we’d never previously strayed too far away from home; we have always stayed fairly local and not spent more than a couple of hours away. So this was the first time in his two-and-a-quarter years that we had done a ‘proper’ day out with just the two of us. (Is it unusual that we hadn’t previously done big father/son trips? I don’t know.)
I was quite excited. Petrified too. Zac has always been (a) a handful and (b) a real mummy’s boy, so even the prospect of bundling him into the car and hitting the motorway had me a bit concerned. Not least because all four of us had taken the train into Reading on Saturday, and Zac had thrown a couple of lie-down-on-the-floor-and-cry tantrums. (I had refused to allow him to go up and down in the lift after about 20 consecutive rides.)
With the benefit of hindsight, I don’t know why I was so worried. After all, it’s not as if I haven’t developed an array of coping strategies to deal with all his little tricks. And we were going to see grandma and grandpa, a prospect which had him jumping up and down in excitement. So, having spent most of the previous 24 hours warning him that today it would be just him and daddy because mummy had to go somewhere else for the day, Zac hopped into his car seat with a smile and we drove off chatting, with the only rebuke from the back coming when I wasn’t playing the right song on the stereo. He even fell asleep halfway there. Perfect.
It’s just over an hour’s drive to my parents’ house, so the nap he had was perfect for recharging his batteries. When we arrived and he saw his grandparents at the front door waving to him, he was straight in there, immediately homing in on grandpa’s laptop and commandeering it.
From there, we all set off along with Uncle Pete for a slap-up Chinese lunch, where Zac amazed us all by picking up a piece of dim sum unaided with his chopsticks and generally eating like a proper grown-up boy. (Okay, he never managed it again, but even so, seriously impressive.)
A bit of after-lunch shopping was followed by a good afternoon nap in the car, some playing in the garden, and then the drive home, which we spent most of singing Lily Allen and Rihanna songs together. (Yes, I know they’re not the most child-friendly of songs. You try telling him.)
Throughout the day, Zac had been all beaming smiles and showing off for the family. Where he usually fidgets and moans through meals, he was all patience and cute curiosity at lunch. And though there was a bit of need-a-nap restlessness while shopping, it was nothing like what we had had to negotiate the previous day in Reading.
Basically, we both had a great day. It was the best one I’ve had with Zac in ages, maybe the best ever. I can’t wait for the next one; for sure, I will be planning something a bit more ambitious than usual for him. Who needs mummy, eh? (Famous last words …)