‘We’re doomed. All doooooooomed.’
I woke to the sound of Mother wailing, the sight of her prone on the bed. The last time I had seen her in such a state was when she’d realised that the fridge was bereft of wine and chocolate. ‘The shops are closed now,’ she’d exclaimed, tearfully. ‘What will I do?’
‘Don’t be so melodramatic,’ said Father, calmly, now as he had then. ‘You’ll upset the baby.’
It suddenly struck me that something was amiss: Mother and Father were both awake before me. This certainly was against the norm, our more usual routine involves the pair of them stumbling out of bed, foggy-eyed and grumpy, at the sound of my morning cry. To be honest, I think Mother and Father would happily laze in bed forever if it wasn’t for my vocal alarm; they have a lot to be grateful to me for.
‘But…look….’ exhaled Mother, gesturing towards the television. I followed to where she was pointing. The screen kept alternating between various serious-looking grown-ups talking about something called ‘Brexit’, the flow of their conversation I simply couldn’t follow. I very quickly became bored and returned to my usual priority of screaming for milk.
‘But what about Italy,’ bemoaned Mother, a little while later whilst I lay in her arms, my appetite sated. It’s a shame that I haven’t yet developed the ability to roll my eyes because if ever there was a moment requiring such a response, this was it. I thought Father showed remarkable restraint remaining po-faced.
You see, Mother has this notion that one day we will move to Italy. She has had this dream, apparently since she was a child and watched a romantic (gross) film set in the country. ‘The countryside, the culture, the beaches…everything,’ she sighs, wistfully. Personally, I think this is a red herring; I think the main draws for Mother are the Prosecco, red wine, ice-cream and pasta. She has been diligently preparing for this life-changing event by developing her Italian culinary skills (bearing in mind that Mother can’t cook, this is limited to opening a tin of spaghetti in tomato sauce), and teaching me to count to ten in Italian (considering I can’t even count to ten in English – and neither can she sometimes when working out her credit card bill – I think this is a tad ambitious.)
‘Well, Italy’s still there,’ replied Father, mildly.
‘That’s not good enough,’ said Mother, shaking her head. ‘So I’ve started looking for houses there. We can just sell up and go.’
Father rubbed his hands over his face. ‘Nothing like being measured and thoughtful eh love?’ he muttered.
‘What?’ she asked.
I’ll be honest, I doubt Italy would take Mother anyway. I understand it is quite the global fashion centre; Mother, in Father’s t-shirt and a holey pair of pyjama bottoms, would lower standards considerably…
‘I voted for my daughter’s future.’
‘And I voted for my granddaughter’s future.’
I woke from my nap to the sound of Mother and Grandma shouting at each other. It reminded me of the time two neighbourhood cats had had a noisy disagreement outside the bedroom window.
‘Well my vote was for the future.’
‘And so was mine.’
I realised that they were arguing about the same subject that Mother and Father had been discussing earlier. Were we still on that? It was boring then and it was even more boring now.
‘I voted for the baby.’
‘So did I.’
Perhaps someone should ask me for my opinion in that case? Because if it was up to me, I would have voted for whoever was offering free babygros for everyone. As you may know, I am a massive fan of babygros – functional, stylish and just a genius invention.
At last, they stopped ranting, had a hug and Mother made a pot of tea. Good. I had more important things to worry about than this stupid thing that kept distracting me from my business. I currently had big worries about the whereabouts of Crispy Cow, my purple chewy toy. She had last been seen falling out of my pushchair; I had a horrible feeling that she had been kidnapped by the washing machine….
Was that television still on? How long could people talk about the same thing? Other people’s faces filled the screen. Again, I struggled to follow what was being said – I was preoccupied with my search for Crispy Cow: no, she wasn’t on my playmat. I’d been lying here for a good hour now and there was no sign of her. The voice on the television was talking about someone standing down from being in charge and who would be in charge now. Momentarily, I thought about putting myself forward: I have excellent leadership skills as evidenced by the way that I run this house – we’d be in complete disarray if things were left to Mother and Father. The moment quickly passed though as I realised I would have to be involved in exceedingly dull discussions, like the one raging on my screen. No, I had better uses for my time (like chewing on Crispy Cow, if she ever turned up again.)
Later, I was falling into a welcoming slumber. It had been a strange day, thanks to the grown-ups behaving quite oddly. I had a very strong feeling that you wouldn’t get so much trouble if us babies were put in charge of running things. Oh well. I felt the softness of Mother and Father’s bed cover beneath me. Even though I would fall asleep here, I would wake up in my crib. It was quite bizarre. I had yet to get to the bottom of how the transition happened; it was clearly magic. Besides me, book resting open on his tummy, Father was already snoring – my bedtime story seems to have a sleep-inducing effect on him.
I heard footsteps outside the room. I didn’t need to open my eyes to know they were Mother’s heavy movements; the woman has the grace of a lolloping elephant. And then I heard her whisper: ‘There are big, important things outside. But the biggest, most important things are right here.’ I had no idea what she was talking about. I also noticed that she had started talking to herself which was not a good sign.
Soon, I forgot about all of them and all the odd conversations I had heard today and instead took a moment to revel once again in the best news of all: Crispy Cow had been found! And with Crispy and my good friend and teddy bear RoRo beside me, I fell into a peaceful, untroubled snooze….