Monday, 5 April 2010

Bank Holiday Easter Parenting Day

Bank Holiday Mondays at a National Trust property give one the perfect opportunity to observe other parents up close while hopefully hiding ones own shortcomings in the parenting department.

Easter Monday found us at Colby Woodland Garden undertaking nature trails in the name of (as far as the children were concerned) winning a chocolate egg. There were other agendas afoot though (she writes, tone turning towards the sinister). One has to be seen to be a Good Parent and a wholesome run about in a National Trust garden is a Good Parent thing. Exercise for the small thin ones to prevent them becoming small fat ones, despite the quantity (and dubious quality) of chocolate ingested the day before. It also thrusts you cheek by jowl with Other Parents and there were many types on display.

We did the charging about finding the clues, smugly knowing the answers and concealing them from the Cheating Bastard Lazy parents (mostly of boys) who were desperately tackling the difficult green trail.

We laughed (out of sight and earshot) as Thick Lazy Bastard Family huddled around clue number one: What are animals called who do not have a spinal cord? TLB Family, pleased with themselves: Spineless.

The clues were tricky though: The name of a baby eel, a small sparrow-like bird whose name means brown bird, an alga/fungus that clings to trees, I'm not Great or Blue - they haven't got my tail - what am I, etc.

"You're all heart," one CBL Parent wailed as Brian (when asked about clue 11 gave not the answer but a vague wave in the direction of the highest part of the garden).

Smugly clutching our completed green trail (one of only four families to do so that weekend, she says smugly, head swelling) we lunched, watching fat kids being fed twice the normal quantity of food suitable for a child of that age by their Overfeeding Obese parents.

Then R6 and I set off for the easiest red trail in the Walled Garden. Some of the clues were stumping the adults, let alone the children. Shhh! Lacewings are those pretty insects that eat aphids, but whisper it so the hovering Parents Who Don't Know That Sort of Thing don't hear.

There were also a couple of Noisy Jolly Mummy types. The sort whose children are obviously deaf or stupid or both.

We arrived at a clue just after one of these. She was quite the loudest thing in the garden. The clue was what tree is the emblem of the National Trust, with a helpful picture of an oak leaf.

"WHAT'S THAT TREE OLLY," bellowed Jolly Mummy, in an encouraging way grinning manically. "YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS! WE'VE GOT ONE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE GARDEN." Olly dribbled and swung on the sign.

"Oak?" he said doubtfully."

"YES! GOOD BOY! WELL DONE!" JM beamed in a relieved way, as if poor snotty Olly had just won a Nobel Peace Prize. Meanwhile his sister toddled in the direction of a deep pool of water and made as if to fall in. "YOU'RE GOING TO FALL," yelled JM encouragingly. "THEN THE LADY WILL HAVE TO FISH YOU OUT." The lady, a National Trust volunteer, clutched her mug of cappucino tightly.

"How will she do that?" snotted Olly.

"OH I EXPECT SHE'S GOT A BIG NET," mooed JM, locating the next clue - the national flower of Wales. R6 quietly wrote daffodil on her form. "YOU KNOW WHAT THAT FLOWER IS!"  baaed JM at Olly. "IT'S A DA.... DAFF...."

"Rose," said Olly, eating snot off his index finger. He'll go far that boy. Far away from that mother.

R6 and I found another few clues on our own. We had just one left and arrived at the same time as another Noisily Encouraging Parent.

"What's that flower Lissy," said NEP brightly to her deaf stupid child (who wasn't the least bit deaf or stupid and already had a nice line in rolling eyeballs.) Silence from Lissy. "Come on," said NEP, grinning like a lunatic. "What colour is it?"

"Purple," sulked Lissy, scratching a circle in the gravel path with the toe of her pink wellington boot.

"It's a bluebell," R6 breathed into my ear. We tiptoed quietly away and worked out the clue, then snuck away, met up with H8, G8 and Brian and went to collect our eggs. The helper was explaining to Parents Who Don't Know That Sort of Thing about lacewings. We exchanged knowing glances in a Smug Parent Know It All Oh Shut Up sort of way and then handed in our form.

"You've got all the answers right!" said the National Trust helper, not nearly loud enough. (I resisted the temptation to say pardon.) We beamed smugly. She handed Cadbury eggs out, adults too. We simpered our thanks and went off smugly to eat our prizes in the sunshine.

Then we drove home, smugly, in the 4x4 lite feeling like rather smug but Good Parents.


  1. I'm on your lines in the Good Parent department, but in the lower stream. You would have heard me mumbling - where's Google when you need it? Well done...., all correct. I am truly impressed.

  2. Yes very impressed on all fronts - remember those days well!!

  3. Beat you to it! We did it on Sunday, honestly we did - and all the trails too. Actually, Jane did it; I sat by the walled garden and read a book from the rather good selection of second hand ones in the gallery. I do like Colby - all garden , no boring old house!
    Today we went to Newport and I thought, oh I might see you - but it seems our paths crossed again.

  4. You are truly good parents and I am quite glad not to be doing that anymore on a Bank Holiday but making hot cross buns and sowing seeds in the greenhouse instead. I do so recognise the parent types, particularly the loud jolly ones with the silent offspring!

  5. I've got a creme egg still unwrapped that I could toss your way.

    Doesn't what you all saw just make you wish that those children could have been separated from their parents.

    Up to a certain age (writing as someone who's never given birth, mind you) children are sort of captives of their parents. That's what might later give rise to Freedom Now cries and breaking for that freedom.

    Lovely that you and yours have got a good wavelength. Keep it going, and hope that your children can find a way to share that wavelength with others not so lucky.

    Okay...I am going to now unwrap that Cadbury's. xo

  6. Lins - Nature trails are my specialist subject. I need Google for other topics.
    SBS - I'm looking forward to the day I can go back to an NT property and just wander around.
    Mark - I didn't see any Lazy Dads Reading While Mum Does All the Work but, if I had, you'd have been in my blog.
    ElizM - There were other normal parents too, but they're not nearly as much fun as the loud ones.
    Frances - Ah Creme Eggs. I promised I wouldn't eat one. I too succumbed to their charms. All the children were very happy at Colby. I think I might have been a bit mean to the parents(and more than a little tongue in cheek!)

  7. No exhausted 'Worried We Might Lose the Children' - grandparents at the end of their entertaining tethers?

    I've been there as one of those parents - which one? I'm not saying.

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  9. Sounds like a brilliant day out for people watching!

  10. Oh Gawd I'm a mixture of them all gazing enviously at the GOOD PARENTS and their chocolate eggs!!! Very impressed and wondering if you'd liek to adopt two small snot eating boys...:)

  11. Oh this is very funny Mags! I do love the way you write. off for a catch up on your other posts now x


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