Have you ever been to Blakeney? Rufus has. It's rather marvellous - when you arrive you immediately want to buy a house there because you feel so relaxed - then you look on Rightmove and see that the minute cottage next to the one you're renting costs THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS - despite the fact that it basically consists of one main room, a loft bedroom and somewhere tucked away a very small bathroom. We discuss buying a lottery ticket but never get round to it.
Going on holiday with a small person takes military planning. I had five sheets of paper laid out on the kitchen worktop each containing a detailed list of things we'd need for him, us and to eat for a week away. As I packed I piled bags in the hall. Mr Jones began to bewail the fact that we decided against buying a volvo estate in favour of paying off the rest of the wedding bill (Oh how much smaller my wedding and that bill would be if I could have forseen a baby nine months after we said "I do"). There may have been some swearing as he packed the Prius.
As we headed for Norfolk Mr Jones asked:
"So what's the plan. A lie in, breakfast by the pool before retreating to a sun lounger with a good book to snooze away the hours until lunch. Then a lazy couple of courses followed by a bit more sun, an afternoon nap and a leisurely shower before heading to the bar for a pina colada and then out for a slap up meal and a few more drinks?"
"In your dreams my love," says I. "We'll be up at 7am at the very latest - most likely following a broken night sleep. I will continue to do my best impressions of a dairy cow and a performing monkey. We will walk miles and miles each day, sing silly songs, make ridiculous noises and generally live out my day to day life. The bonus being that you'll be here everyday to share the load - hurrah!"
There are no holidays when you have a baby - you just move your daily life to another house. That said - we had a marvellous time - despite the lack of 30 degree heat and sun loungers. We walked and played, cuddled and kissed, ate brownies and peanut butter blondies (I'll find a recipe and post it one day - yum), paddled in the sea, sung and laughed and Mr Jones and Rufus had some amazing bonding time and I got to read a book - whoopee.
We even got brave and hired a babysitter so that we could have a night out. This was done with no small amount of trepidation on my part. Luckily the babysitter was a trained nursery nurse so I felt confident that she probably wouldn't kill him. However the night before I had a dream that she kidnapped him. I spent a few hours mulling this over before confessing to Mr Jones.
"Don't be ridiculous - we're hiring her through the company we hired the cottage from, there are posters up all over Blakeney advertising her baby sitting services - she's very unlikely to steal him."
"But he's so lovely," I argue. "Who wouldn't want to steal him?"
"This is such a small place that even if she did steal him she'd be pretty easy to track down - people know who she is."
"A-ha - so you will admit that it's a possibility that she might steal him?"
"Er no - again you're being ridiculous."
"Well can I tell her about my dream just so she knows I'm on to her if she tries anything?"
"If you do I will disown you - he'll be fine"
Matter closed. When the babysitter arrives she's in her early 20s and when I start babbling about dummies and the fact I've not left him and the fact that he's unlikely to wake up but if he does..... she looks and me with a bewildered expression and says: "If it makes you feel better [you headcase] I used to work in a nursery - in the baby baby section - so I'm used to anything he might throw at me..."
I resist the urge to tell her that my baby is different - that he is special - that I know what it is to be a carefree childless babysitter who rifles through your kitchen cupboards and wakes up your baby for a cuddle with no regard for the fact that you've spent the last 13 weeks of his life trying to get him to sleep for any decent length of time. I don't tell her that I'm on to her - that I know she'll sit there calulating the cash that will cross her sweaty young palm when we finally stagger home three hours later full of scallops, steak, Eton mess and wine and I don't tell her that she can have absolutely no idea of the sheer weight of responsibility that is hanging on her young shoulders.
I don't tell her because I realise that it's better not to know. No one told me that at the age of 14 I was left in sole charge of many a baby who meant five-pounds-an-hour to me and the world to its parents. I couldn't appreciate at the time that those parents were placing monumental amounts of trust in me to keep their child safe while they had a much deserved night out. So while I sat on the sofa watching Eastenders and eating their crisps - I didn't for one minute think about the magnitude of what I was doing or consider the fact that when they came home to find me napping on the sofa they probably felt just a tiny bit terrified! So I repaid the favour - and I had a wonderful night out - but my God was I pleased to get home and find that everyone was still alive and that Rufus was very safe in his cot.
I was less enamoured by the fact that having gone to bed at 10.30pm I was woken up at 11.30pm by a grumpy baby who spent the next hour resisting sleep as I hung with a pounding head and a gurgling stomach over the very high sides of his travel cot trying to coerce him into a slumber. Ouch!
It was a lovely holiday. We felt like a proper little family and Rufus and I have definitely missed daddy now that he's back at work.
Mrs Jones is a far from yummy mummy with a penchant for M&S fudge bars and a mojito on a Friday night. She became Mrs Jones in 2009 and a mummy in 2010. In 2011 she is attempting to remember her own name and not put washing powder in the dishwasher....