Long, long ago, when Piglet was little more than a twinkle in my eye, or more accurately a sample in a jar, I imagined that my future progeny would be very much like me, the Blue Ivy to my Beyoncé, looking fierce next to me in a co-ordinated outfit. The truth was somewhat different. Naive as I was, I somehow hadn’t quite grasped the concept that children were individuals in their own right, with their own individual likes and dislikes, separate from those of their parents or those that their parents might choose for them, and so it was mildly surprising that Piglet seemed to have a very particular set of interests from very early on, and that these were not necessarily ones that I had encouraged. It sounds silly now, and this of course is how it should be. In truth, I wouldn’t want a child in my mirror image, one that had all of my good points and none of my faults perhaps, but certainly not one exactly like me.
What I got was one who was completely different. True, he does have some of my characteristics; the fear of missing out with which I have always been afflicted for example, and quite possibly he will grow up to be that person (me) who endlessly annoys their travelling companions on long journeys by never, ever sleeping, or who just can’t say no to that last drink for fear of missing something by leaving the party early. However, it is nevertheless clear that there are some aspects of Piglet’s personality and interests that are not, and never have been mine. Cars, for example. At thirty-seven (still getting used to acknowledging my newly-minted decrepitude, through gritted teeth) I still cannot drive, but Piglet, at the ripe old age of not quite three, is already better at it than me, deftly maneuvering a red and yellow plastic car through the teeming masses at toddler groups without so much as an emergency stop.
I have been treating this interest as an opportunity, an opportunity to seek out experiences that I wouldn’t otherwise have had, but which are right up Piglet’s metaphorical street. And so it was that I found myself attending speedway GP at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff yesterday.
There were moments when I questioned my decision to take a toddler to an event that involved a) thousands of people and b) sitting still for a considerable amount of time, particularly when we found ourselves queueing for an hour at the gate amid a swarming mass of humanity, all either grumbling about the fact that those at the gate next to us, of whom there seemed to be far fewer, were having their bags checked immediately and then walking straight in, or telling their parents to stop moaning because they were just SO embarrassing. At this point Piglet, who had not had a nap all day, was burrowing his face in my shoulder and whimpering that he wanted to go home, and I had visions of us getting into the stadium and then having to go home immediately due to a full-throttle toddler meltdown. However, upon entry to the stadium he seemed somewhat overawed by the spectacle of it all, and once the event started he was rapt.
TWO HOURS he managed to sit there, watching the racing, much to my amazement, which was far better going than when we went to see Cars 3 at the cinema, and all this when he was overtired too. Eventually, I convinced him to leave (I had to convince HIM), this was the opposite of what happened during Cars 3, as bedtime was fast approaching, we needed to get the train back to Bristol and having lived next to Wembley Stadium for three years, I am well versed in how manic the short journey from stadium to station can be when there are multitudes of well-watered sports fans ploughing the route. We missed the end, but it was well worth the journey to see Piglet clapping, cheering and generally enjoying himself, especially when these two bad boys came out during the intervals between races.
So there we have it, if I am ever at a loss for what to do with Piglet when he’s overtired and having a difficult moment, I just stick him in front of some bike racing and the occasional tractor, and he’ll be enthralled for hours. Job done.