Isaac has been talking about his upcoming ‘special adventure’ ever since the end of Christmas Day – and today was the day. A boys’ day out in the form of a shopping expedition to Reading may not seem particularly special or exciting, but in reality both Zac and I had a whale of a time.
Our elder son – he was three earlier this month – went to bed extremely excited last night, and seemed a little disappointed when we didn’t immediately race out of the house the moment he woke up this morning. (Well, it was 5.30am!) But all that soon changed, and by the time he and I caught a bus from Theale station at 9.30 he was bubbling over with excitement.
Why, you may ask. Well, let me put today’s trip into context. For starters, from his earliest months Isaac and shops have never really gotten on. At the best of times, he would grumble if allowed to come to a halt in any store, while crossing the threshold of Marks & Spencer in particular was always guaranteed to be met with howls of protest. (Don’t ask me why, but he always cried in M&S. To be honest, I often feel the same way.)
In fact, the last time we had attempted a proper shopping expedition was back in the spring when all four of us took the train to Reading. Zac would not sit down for more than 30 seconds – we’ve always suspected he has more than a touch of ADHD about him – and had to be forcibly restrained from running up and down the carriage. (I employed a half-nelson, in case you were wondering.) Once we had arrived, he spent the best part of half an hour compulsively going up and down in the lift in John Lewis and then, when he was finally dragged away, threw himself to the ground and had a screaming tantrum in the middle of Broad Street.
Given this history, you can perhaps understand why shopping is, on the whole, something we do without Zac rather than with him.
Having said that, he has talked endlessly and excitedly ever since about his train trip, so it clearly made a big impression, even if he didn’t show it at the time. Hence the reason for giving public transport another go.
Anyway, back to today. From the moment we climbed onto the bus, any apprehension I had about the trip rapidly melted away. For the entire 30-minute journey, he chattered away excitedly, keeping up a non-stop, high volume barrage of questions and commentary on everything he could see from our vantage point at the front of the top deck.
Why was the ride so bumpy? Had we left England yet? Why was that other bus purple? Was that black Audi – car brand identification is his Mastermind specialist subject – going the same way as us? Did I see that building with the letters K-F-C written on it? Were we at the special adventure yet? And so on. The lady across the aisle from us clearly found it amusing and endearing, as I could hear her chuckling at regular intervals.
After what felt like the world’s longest game of 20 Questions, we finally alighted in Reading and got down to important business. Namely coffee – a latte for me, a babyccino for Zac. (I love the way he got bored with queuing, asked me if he could have my iPod, and then took himself off to find an empty table and wait patiently for me there.)
After our doses of milky goodness, we hit the shops, where Zac’s love of the colour pink leapt firmly to the fore. Some highlights:
- Walking past Claire’s Accessories: “Daddy, I want a pink scarf.” (We eventually bought him a pink umbrella.)
- Passing one of those women’s fashion boutiques I can never remember the name of: “Daddy, can I have a pink handbag?”
- Our music-loving boy browsing the racks of CDs and DVDs in HMV, as if he had just stumbled into his idea of heaven.
- Dragging me into a shoe shop and showing me a pair of six-inch, leopard-skin heels: “Daddy, I’ve found Rihanna’s shoes!”
- Sniffing the soaps in Lush: “Daddy, can I buy that pink one? It’s really beautiful.”
- Standing in La Senza – his choice, not mine – with a pink bra in one hand and a yellow one in the other singing along to Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi on the store’s speakers and asking me “Can I have one of these?” I’m not joking. You just couldn’t make it up, could you?
It’s quite cute, really. I’ve already signed him up for the next round of auditions for the stage version of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. He’ll fit right in.
Anyhow, Zac clearly possesses the same taste for retail therapy his father has. He finished the day with a pink umbrella, a giant poster of a Mini (his favourite car), a Shaun the Sheep DVD box-set, a funky set of gaudily-coloured children’s cutlery (some of it is pink, naturally), some expensive chocolate, and the collectors’ edition of the Gerry Anderson series Joe 90.
Okay, maybe that last one was for me. Like I said, retail therapy runs through the male bloodline of our family.
On the face of it, there was nothing special about what Zac and I did today. But judging from the excitement with which he launched himself at the day and the way he rushed to show and tell Heather everything we had done as soon as he got home, I think he will have some lasting memories from today that he will talk about for months to come. And so will I. That’s special enough for me.