Going out

Time alone with your partner is hard to come by as a parent.

Date night


As a parent, sometimes many moons can pass before you actually get a night off. Even more rare is a night off with your partner, if you have one. I think the last time I went out alone with my partner, apart from a Covid walk, was pre-pandemic. So it was a strange thing to be heading out last Friday – not just out locally either. Out several hours from home. Proper out and overnight at a friend’s house.

As with all things, a logistical operation had to be put in place beforehand. Daughter three was on work experience and had been ill earlier in the week with a combination of a cold and heat exhaustion. She had a long tube journey followed by a bus ride to get home. Would she make it? Only son had had to be picked up early. My mum was going to do it, but was understandably worried about the heat. Daughter two had work early the next morning and the buses in our area only start running from 7.

By late evening everything was fine. My partner and I had had a great night out and everyone at home had got to where they needed to be. They were watching a film with popcorn, probably a 15 or worse, but, still, no sibling skirmishes had erupted. On the way back the next morning I tried to call people to let them know we were coming. Daughter two was on a bus in a forest with poor communication. We could only hear a spooky scraping noise, but assumed all was well and that she was not being taken to an alien’s lair which is what it sounded like. No-one replied to any calls to mobiles or the landline in the house. I knew daughter three would be asleep til noon, but only son always has his phone to hand. Was he deliberately avoiding his parents, had he had an accident or, more likely, was he on Minecraft with his headphones on? I spend half my time these days making what I would like to think of as wise pronouncements about life only to find no-one has heard a single thing I’ve said – this includes my partner who is rather partial to a gadget.

Anyway, we were 10 minutes from home when we got a call from only son. Daughter three had collapsed with excruciating earache and was in tears. Where were we? This was an emergency. Hours later, having rung 111, taken daughter three to an urgent treatment centre for a prescription, been to the hospital for a check-up with only son and fed the poor cats, daughter two announced that she had work at 7am the next day and was off to Corfu at 7.45am midweek and not from the local airport as earlier implied, but from ‘London Luton’ which is nowhere near London, people. That meant a 4.30am departure from home by the parent taxi service.

Hours later it transpired that daughter three had passed her cold on to me which meant I have been coughing all night since Monday and was unable to drive to Luton, despite my best intentions. Even I could see that it was unsafe, but I was planning to stowaway in the back of the car to keep my partner company. The only problem was that when I went to the car in the night because it was cooler and because it meant my coughing didn’t wake people up, the coughing triggered the car’s alarm system. The car started opening and closing automatically in a worrying fashion. I aborted my stowaway mission and fell asleep on the sofa half an hour before daughter two had to leave. So my plans for some extra alone time with her father,  albeit in the company of several packets of Soothers, were dashed. Maybe next year.

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