‘I go to Gammas. By my own!’
Angry because we had told her she couldn’t have dessert if she didn’t eat her dinner, Number Three had decided she would go to her Grandma’s house (where apparently such rules don’t exist).
By all accounts, Number Three was ready to go. She stormed off to her bedroom – ‘I get my bag, then I go to Gamma’s’ she warned us.
I followed, more out of curiosity than any real fear she might leave. She’s three and can’t reach any door handles.
I slowly pushed open her door – she had wedged a pile of pillow pets behind it to make sure people didn’t interrupt her. She was busy stuffing dresses into her Elsa back pack, while she flung her little doggie handbag over her shoulder.
‘I pack my bags,’ she told me determinedly. ‘Toys and some clothes.’
‘Have you got knickers?’ I asked. ‘A torch? It will get dark soon, are you sure you want to walk in the dark.’
‘I don’t want to show you,’ she said quietly. But she got up and stuffed a pair of undies into her bag. ‘Only one,’ she warned me.
She stood up, as determined as I had ever seen her. Suddenly a small part of me believed that she really would leave and walk to grandmas on the other side of the city. I needed to stall.
‘Do you know what Gamma’s real name is? In case you need to ask a grown up where she lives?’ I asked.
She thought for a second then gave a solid nod. ‘Grandma,’ she said. I sighed inwardly.
I looked around the room in desperation. My eyes fell on a Dora toy.
‘Have you got a map? Dora always has a map,’ I said.
Her little face brightened and she gave me the thumbs up sign. ‘Good job Mum!’ she said. ‘I need a map.’
We wandered out to the kitchen where she grabbed a piece of paper and a fat mauve marker. She drew some long lines, and then marked a couple of ‘spots’.
‘That’s where Gammma lives,’ she said. ‘And that’s us.’
She rolled up the map and shoved it in her backpack.
‘Ok family,’ she called out. ‘Bye Dad, bye Mum, bye sisters. I go to Gamma’s now.’
She pulled a hat off the rack and slid her feet into a pair of shoes. Standing at the door with her bags and mismatched socks, she looked at me expectantly. ‘I need the keys Mum,’ she explained. ‘Open the door.’
So far we had managed this whole episode with the utmost calm and harmony. But I knew that the second I refused to open the door she would melt into a tantruming three year puddle of fire and spit. We needed a distraction.
As if an answer from the angels, suddenly the opening theme of Dora came floating from the family room. Her little head automatically swivelled in the direction of the TV.
‘Do you perhaps want to stay for a while and watch Dora, and you can go to Grandmas later?’
She glanced at the door behind her and the TV in front of her. She was losing resolve.
‘I leave my bags here?’ she asked. ‘For later?’
I nodded and gently took her hat off.
She ambled toward the TV, running away to Grandma’s forgotten momentarily.
Thanks Dora, I owe you one.
30 minutes later.
‘Ok mum, I need the keys now.’
What? I thought it was finished.
‘I go to Gamma’s now. I need the keys.’
She rummaged through the drawer, coming up with some window keys.
‘Bye Dad,’ she called out. Dad wandered out, ‘where are you going now?’
She humphed, as only a three year old can humph.
‘I got the keys so now I drive the car,’ she explained.
‘But it’s dark now,’ her dad explained.
There was a pause. ‘I be so brave,’ she said.
‘Maybe,’ said her dad. ‘But you need a shower. Grandma doesn’t want a smelly visitor. Let’s go.’
And she went!