The statistics on my blog are incomprehensible. How come one day there are 70 people checking in and another day there are just 18? What is it that pulls you in and then pushes you away? Is this last drop in numbers due to my recent callous attitude to American tourists? Maybe all my readers were American tourists and I have just clumsily hacked away my readership in one fell swoop with yesterday’s entry. If so, just know that I apologise humbly and I will return your Rolex watches post haste.
I spent this afternoon with my newest and bestest friend, a Scandinavian woman who works in the medical profession and whom I will refer to as Docter Power, for reasons known only to the two of us (and her husband). She is a little younger and a lot taller, blonder and prettier than me, which is slightly annoying. Having grown used to feeling like the cute, golden-haired one in a group I am now adjusting to feeling like the short, stumpy, mousey one. Luckily Doctor Power is extremely lovely and very funny, and her children have an entire basement full of Lego which is a surefire winner for keeping Tommy occupied, so I think our friendship has all the chances of standing the test of time. The next step is to get the men together (L’Homme and Doctor Gandamou); they are bound to get on like a house on fire, both having an extraordinary capacity for excess and both having to cope with feisty Nordic women who scoff their Frenchiness.
I discovered, thanks to Doctor Power, that LEGO means “play well”. And children do indeed tend to play well when Lego is the activity at hand. They are absorbed and creative and imaginative and the possibilities of what they can build are infinite. Tommy was so fascinated by the Lego train sets, fire station, police station, various planes, pick-up trucks, front-loaders and spaceships that I started to dread how I would have to tear him away from the Power-Gandamou household. I suddenly realised Tommy doesn’t have any ‘construction’ toys like that and he’s clearly ready for some hardcore building and re-building. I imagined the hours of peace I light gain with him constructing Lego cities in the bedroom. So when it was time to go I promised him we’d go via Géant Casino and grab a packet of Lego and some eggs.
What a mistake.
Of course, standing in front of an entire aisle of toys, Tommy went for everything BUT the Lego. After ten minutes of pulling boxes off shelves he settled for a giant pump-action paintball gun. I calmly explained that the last thing I was going to buy him was a gun. And especially not one which shot paint pellets (WHAT ON EARTH were those toy manufacturers thinking of?) So he sulked and cried a bit and eventually came over to the Lego section.
“Honey, I said you could choose something made of Lego. Look – look at all these things you can choose from … helicopter, speedboat, dump truck …”
Tommy ran his eyes over all the colourful boxes and then stopped with his eyes fixed on a box right at the top of the shelves.
“Ook Mummy! Zurg! ZURG! Me want Zurg, Mummy!”
And sure enough, there was a box with the Evil Emporer Zurg glaring down at us. Made of Lego. For 40 euros. I cursed mysef for not having driven straight home and to hell with toy treats, but reached up and took the box down anyway. Sure enough, it was Zurg. But so much of it was just purple plastic dress (yup – Zurg wears a long dress down to his toes) there wasn’t much Lego there at all. It was a rip-off. And Tommy was staring at it with a huge grin on his face.
I wavered. I nearly bought Zurg. And then I remembered that we are going through the tightest financial squeeze we’ve ever gone through and that I’d spent that very morning trying to find the cheapest way to London and back for the Easter hols, trying to slice off thirty euros here and there. And now I was considering buying a Lego Zurg for forty euros. No. I couldn’t. I crouched down next to Tommy and held his hand and said, “Mummy doesn’t have enough money to buy Zurg, sweetie.” Tommy looked at me and winced his face up until tears started to well up. I was expecting a tantrum but this wasn’t one. He just looked very sad. I showed him a 3-in-1 Lego helicopter/jet-plane/speedboat for 13 euros and asked him if he wanted it. He nodded, took the box from my hands and put it in our shopping bag. Then he held onto my hand and we walked back down the toy aisle towards the eggs.
I realised in the car that it was a good thing we hadn’t bought Zurg home. Tommy spent the entire 35 minute journey saying “Mummy, me frightened a Zurg, me frightened, MUMMY ME FRIGHTENED ZURG'” and the only thing that would stop him being frightened was me telling him that the Evil Emporer Zurg was back at the shop and was staying there.
We got home at half past seven, already late for dinner, and Tommy wanted me to put his 3-in-1 Lego kit together in the form of a helicopter. We sat down in the bedroom and I tipped 85 zillion tiny pieces of Lego out of the box onto the floor. The booklet involved 40 different steps. It was way too advanced for Tommy. It was way too advanced for me. It took me over twenty minutes to make the helicopter (I was very proud of myself) and by the end Tommy was busy doing something else. He was also too tired to eat his omelette by the time I served it up to him at gone eight o’clock. I failed in all nearly all areas of motherhood this evening. Nearly. But I made it up with an especially long post-bath towel rub-a-dub-dub-rub and fifteen minutes of cuddles and kisses. And he does like his new helicopter.