'Bugger,' I said a little too loudly. 'Your Daddy's ability to count leaves much to be desired.'
Baldy, the Mop and I are running through the halls of a Perth Hospital, looking for a physiotherapy clinic that doesn't seem to exist.
Baldy Baby has broken her leg, and although the good people at the kid's hospital have made her a marvellous plaster cast, it's so heavy, she is anchored to floor. If we left it on much longer she would gnaw it off with her little baby teeth.
So my husband has set up an appointment for Baldy to get a new light-weight plastic cast. He just neglected to give me accurate directions.
We burst into the clinic and immediately make ourselves at home. The Mop gets out her portable DVD player and headphone and opens the lunch bag. Baldy starts charming the other patients and spitting crumbs at them.
Once out of the pram, she attempts an escape, dragging her broken leg behind her as she heads to the door. It's pitiful and I feel eyes on me. 'What did you do to her,' they are thinking.
The clinic is used to dealing with adults who sit still and co-operate, not 1 year old dynamo's and their support crew. Tables are moved, toys are procured, the Mop comes over for a look. She starts fidgeting with her nappy. I silently beg her to hold it in.
While the physio and I are chatting about the specifics of the accident (unknown) Baldy does her best to grab the physio's scissors. They are going to give me the World's Most Negligent Mother award soon. She is given a bunch of plastic samples to chew on instead. She seems to like the pink one. No surprise there.
First the plaster cast needs to be removed. It's about seven inches thick and we need the jaws of life to break it open. Baldy offers to help with the scissors. Her request is politely declined.
With the damn thing off, it offered to us as a souvenir. I decline and it disappears into the bin with a puff of plaster dust.
'Now, how are we going to do this?' the physio asks. We decide I will stand and hold her upright. With her broken leg dangling well away from me, he begins wrapping the heated plastic around her flailing limb. She is kicking me in the bladder with her other leg and she has plunged one hand down my top and her arm is stuck. I can feel her fingers wiggling under my bra and I am praying silently that the physio hasn't noticed that I am precariously close to being exposed.
The next patient comes in and looks around. There are six chairs and we have taken them all over. My bag is on one, the pram blocking another. The abandoned DVD player is on the third and empty cheese and cracker wrappers on the fourth. The Mop and I are sitting in the other two. I can't put Baldy down with a broken leg to move all our crap, and when I ask the Mop to pick up her things she says 'I don't want to' then quickly follows it up with 'but I love you Mummy.'
The patients are directed down the hall to the communal waiting room.
The plastic hardens and is then snipped off. Baldy keeps trying to get down from my lap. She wants to crawl and is not helped by the fact that the Mop keeps encouraging her to play. A smell is emanating from someone, but I can't quite tell who.
'Did you want to do a nappy change while I finish this off?' the physio asks. My cheeks are burning as I check nappies.
'Just wind,' I say. Wind? Who says that? Why didn't I just say fart?
The cast has been shaped and sanded and strapped. It is literally a little baby leg, there are even little fat rolls around the ankle. My heart stops at the realisation that I will have a permanent and physical reminder of the fact that my tiny baby had a broken leg and I wasn't even there for her when it happened. Nothing like hard evidence to sustain your mother-guilt.
We strap it back on and Baldy spits it. Apparently she thought she was done with the cast and she is not happy about the new one, even if it is very stylish.
'My nappy has come off,' the Mop declares pulling up her dress. Yes it has.
I put the rabid baby back in the pram and reapply Mop's nappy. I pick up the food wrappers and try to sweep the crumbs off the floor. I pack away the DVD and headphone and colouring-in books. I repack my handbag from where Baldy has pulled everything out. I thrust my credit card at the receptionist as I hear Baldy fill her nappy.
We run out of there so fast, kids howling.
It's not until we are stuck in peak-hour traffic on the freeway that I hear the tell-tale sound of Velcro being pulled. Baldy is trying to take the cast off.
It's going to be a long 4 weeks.