It wasn’t long before April was fast approaching along with that trip to Milan – the four-days-and-three-nights one the school were taking our seven year old on. And, it turned out, the year below her too! Good luck those teachers.
Isla was excited and nervous in turns, and as a consequence (in my opinion) put on a growth spurt that meant suddenly nothing I’d brought (having carefully tried it all on as I packed in the UK) fit her. And the things that did were those I’d bought a size or two up, in a bit of a hurry, just before we left the UK. I’d gone for stretchy skinny jeans – she’s not much of a trousers girl but she’d liked the look of them. Maybe the age 10 was a bit excessive – she’s a larger age 7, but no monster. ‘They scrunkle and tickle me,’ she complained. I had to concede that they were a bit over-roomy.
Nothing a not-so-quick trip to the big town at the bottom of the mountain couldn’t fix. (Bus to the next village across the lake, another bus to the car parked for free 300m down the mountain, car drive 50 winding minutes down to the town). Plus a quick on-line shop of like soft and comfy leggings from tried and tested UK shops. Thank heavens my sister-in-law was about to arrive. Just in the nick of time to receive my orders & deliver them! Yes – I’m sure I could buy online in France, but I was running out of time to do the research and post up the mountain isn’t always terribly speedy.
I packed the bag carefully, going over the ‘trousseau’ list we’d been given (i.e. what to pack), and naming everything as requested. I found a ‘serviette de table’ (table napkin – how gorgeous!) and a ‘serviette de toilette’ (flannel – bear with me linguaphiles). Satisfied she had everything she needed and not much more (as requested) I took her to school for the 6.45am rendezvous and only cried when I was safely on my own again.
While the younger one was gone, it was lovely to be able to focus on Daisy for a while. Just hanging out and chatting. Playing games together. Walking slowly from school to the bus stop, with a stop to play on the Playstations in the tourist office. I suggested, confident and independent as she was, that she might like to bring herself home one day. She was keen. As I was working near school that day we agreed that she’d walk from school and meet me outside the building, to catch the bus together. Done.
By 4pm, on a small lunch, my stomach was growling and my mouth watering at the thought of all the savoury goodies in the patisserie just along the road. Past where Daisy would appear down the hill from school. She’d be cross, I thought, if she met me here and then I dragged her back along the street where she’d come from. So I waited at the bottom of the hill. There she came, tripping along happily.
Til I called out her name.
‘What are you doing HERE?’ I explained my hunger and plan to hit the patisserie. ‘But you were supposed to be THERE. I was supposed to go on my own. I was looking forward to it.’
PARENTAL FAIL! I felt so silly – of course those extra twenty feet were important. Really important. They were part of the plan, which she’d probably been thinking about on and off all day. What a dunce. I was sorry, Very sorry. I was silly and had made a mistake that I wouldn’t make again. Luckily she’s as rubbish at sulking as I am. A promise of a choice at the patisserie (huge meringue, obvs) went part way, then assurance that she could come ALL the way home on her own the following day put the bounce back in her walk.
Honestly. One in Milan and the other making her own way about town? Little bit more awesome (sniff).
They were late back from Milan. Seven became eight became nine. The car was back in its free parking spot so I was on the bus. If I’d known how late they were likely to be I’d have fetched it. It was gone nine by the time Isla’s bus arrived, then we had a speech from a teacher about various logistics to wait through before another mother begged her to please, let the little ones off the bus. Then my traveller was stepping down and rushing to bury her face in my jacket. No tears. Thank heavens.
Whoever broke the lift from the lower levels of our village right near the bus stop to the higher levels where we live that night – thanks a lot. And thanks to the holiday reps who were just in front of us and muttered ‘Eighty steps up – groan.’ Because my weary seven-year-old needed all that at almost ten o’clock at night after a long trip back from Milan! And I couldn’t carry her – even without her bag that would have been pretty tough. Eighty steps?
We made it. She survived it. I think she had some fun.
Even though her silly mum packed a flannel instead of a towel.