Our year of Friday mornings is over, and I’m trying to be a grown-up about it, but you’re holding up better than I am. You love our routine almost as much as I do; we drop your big sister to school, then we wander slowly back, you holding onto the buggy, skipping along beside me. Stopping to stand on a rock or pick a leaf or look at a snail, and for once, nobody tells you to hurry up. We’re not in a rush, it’s our mellow Friday morning.
“Where will we go?” I ask you. And your answer is always the same: “The Mellow Fig!” And on hearing the magic words, your little brother pipes up: “Me have foffee and pancakes!” Earlier in the year, I laid down the law, and announced that we wouldn’t go every week. But as time went by, I realised that we had finite number of Friday mornings left before Summer holidays, and then you will join your big sister in primary school. So The Mellow Fig it is, every Friday morning.
You hold the door for me as I navigate through with the buggy, and we’re shown to your favourite table. The staff know us, and they know our order. “Pancakes all round?” they ask, to be greeted with a chorus in the affirmative. “And the cappuccinos are already on,” they tell us; as used to the routine as we are. The coffees arrive – frothy milk with marshmallows for you and your brother; proper stuff for me, then the pancakes and my homemade scone. You cut yours into dainty pieces, then bat away the toddler hands that come searching, once he’s inhaled his own and drank his little jug of maple syrup.
When every pancake bite is gone, it’s time for shopping. Sometimes it’s just groceries, but you take your job very seriously. “What should we have for lunch today?” I ask. And your brow furrows for a moment while you have a serious think about it. “I know – the rice and the steak thing in the sauce?” you say. “Great idea! Or how about chicken sandwiches?” I say. “Mmm I love chicken sandwiches!” you reply, and I narrowly avoid cooking pork stroganoff for lunch.
You insist on putting every item in the basket – if I absent-mindedly do it, you make me take it out, and at the till, you take charge of putting everything on the belt. “What a great little helper you have there,” is the comment every week – different people each time, but the same remark. “Isn’t she,” I reply, “I don’t know what I’ll do when she goes to school in September – I’ll have nobody to help me.” And you grin up at me, delighted to be so indispensable.
Then if we’re not rushing, we look at clothes – you hold dresses against me, to see if they suit. You tell me to try them on, then step back to critically appraise, hand on hip, finger on lip. Sometimes I get an “I’m not sure about that one mum” and sometimes I get “Buy it mum” and one time I got “Wow, that’s magnificent.” Everyone needs a personal shopper like you.
“What am I going to do when you to go school in September?” I ask you. “You’ll be OK mum,” you say reassuringly. I smile back, being brave, but actually, I’m not sure I will be.