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Tiny Tyger, Baby Bear and Me: London, Baby!

Saturday 14 March 2015

London, Baby!

Toddlers are pretty repetitive, obsessive creatures.  Aspies are pretty repetitive, obsessive creatures.  Tyger - being both a toddler and (probably) an Aspie - is a very repetitive, obsessive creature.

The Wolf works in London.  My Dad works in London.  My brother and his girlfriend live in London.  One of my sisters recently had a school trip to London.  Tyger hears a lot about London and, in turn, we hear a lot about London from him.  A lot, a lot.  Like, seriously, a lot.

Tyger:  My go a Wondon?

Me:  Not today.

Tyger:  Why?  My go a Wondon.  My go a Wondon.  My go a Wondon.

This was a pretty common conversation for a few weeks (common meaning at least five or six times a day and often more like five or six times in as many minutes) so the Wolf booked a day off work for us to head into London since there was no way we were going in at the weekend.

Planning a day out with a toddler and baby is stressful.  Especially if you're me and hate both planning and travel.  Questions like 'should we take the buggy?' become achingly important and require full discussion of the pros and cons:

Place for both boys to nap if needs be
Easier on our arms and backs than carrying/using the carrier the whole time
Keeps Tyger contained if required

Taking a buggy on the London underground
Taking a buggy on the London underground
Taking a buggy on the London underground

In the end, despite the very compelling arguments against (seriously, a buggy on the underground!), we decided to take the buggy.

We made a plan: get a lift to the train station, get the train to Waterloo, walk across some bridge to somewhere else, get a tube to another place, go to the Natural History Museum to let Tyger see the dinosaur section, get lunch, get more tubes from more places, go to Hamley's and then more tubes back to Waterloo and the train home again.  Yeah, I don't know London very well and I'm rubbish with place names (or any names, come to that).

Tyger hadn't been on a train before (or, at least, not within his memory) so it was one big adventure for him.  He loved the idea of the train before we got there and mostly did seem to like the first train journey, even if he was extremely concerned the train would 'squish' him as we got on and even if he insisted on sitting on the Wolf's lap for the whole journey instead of his own seat.  Baby Bear - surprisingly and thankfully - slept for the whole first leg of the trip.

It was a lovely, bright day.  Unfortunately, it was also incredibly windy and I'm sure Tyger's memory of London must be as some sort of face-scouring hurricane of a city.  The entire time we were outside he had tears rolling down his face from the wind and when we crossed a bridge he was quite concerned about being blown away.

His first reaction to the underground was to voice his consternation about the possibility of the train crashing into his chocolate chip cookie.  Don't worry, though: the tube stayed on its tracks and the cookie was safe (phew).  Being on the tube was largely stressful for him (the noise, the darkness, the movement - all a little overwhelming and scary) but to hear hi, talk about it now you'd think he spent the entire time laughing and singing and generally marveling at the wonder of it all.  Children have selective memories.

We made it to the Natural History Museum and either the fact we had two young children with us meant we didn't seem to pose a threat or the museum staff didn't fancy the chances of sticking their hand in a poopy nappy or sicky top because we were waved through the bag search point without so much as a cursory glance over (despite having several bags with us).  When we got into the main hall, Tyger's reaction to the diplodocus (which will soon be controversially swapped for a blue whale) made the entire day worthwhile as he let out an awed and whispered, 'Wow.'

Then, on to the dinosaur section.  We knew this would be hit or miss but Tyger seemed eager...to start with.  There's a staircase leading up to an overhead walkway (with dinosaurs on either side) and Tyger was desperate to get up the stairs but we had to wait for the lift (okay maybe there were a couple more downsides to bringing the buggy than having to take it on the tube) as he repeatedly tried to drag me up the stairs.

Tyger did not like the walkway.

It's quite dark and crowded.  Because it's crowded, it's noisy and slow moving.  I suspect it was somewhat of a sensory overload and Tyger had a bit of a meltdown.  I was carrying him so he could see over the railing and he started shouting that he wanted to get down and even grabbed the railing and tried to pull himself over it at one point.  He cried and attempted to push the people in front of us forward, shouting, 'Go away!'  Luckily, the general noise and crowd meant I don't think anyone even noticed the poor, distraught toddler and he started to calm down as we got to a more open area.  He was able to enjoy the remaining dinosaurs and very much enjoyed the dinosaur gift shop but the ordeal must have taken it out of him because he was happy to sit in the buggy - glassy eyed - whilst we left the museum and searched for somewhere to eat.

We should have - perhaps - eaten lunch in the museum because apparently all the cafes and restaurants around that area are trendy types with cramped, tiny tables/no highchairs/no changing facilities (the one place that looked promising had an out of order toilet - not ideal when you have a toddler with you who hasn't peed in several hours).  So, we walked for a Goram long time (I had the dead weight that is Baby Bear strapped to me so my perception may have been skewed a little.  We eventually found a nice little Italian place clearly not well-equipped for children but keen to accommodate us, quiet, not cramped and - most importantly - serving food we'd all eat.  Tyger had to eat his (full-sized) pizza with an adult's fork and we had to hold his huge glass of apple juice for him every time he wanted a drink just so he could reach the straw but the staff and food were nice and I got to sit down without a big fat baby on me out of the icy wind.  So, all was good.  Baby Bear was even kind enough to perfectly time his only poop of the day to coincide with the end of the meal!

Next stop was Hamley's and I was...let's say unimpressed.  I won't go into detail because I have already made my feelings on gender stereotyping pretty clear in my last blog post Yes, I Bought my Son a Dress.  The ground floor was fine.  It had various cuddly toys and puppets stacked up all over but there was also one pink glittery floor trying to choke the life out of you the moment you stepped out the lift with the overpowering smell of sickly-sweet...perfume?  I don't know really.  I'm not sure what in a toy shop needs to smell like that.  Only female employees seemed to work on this floor and it contained dolls, princess dresses, jewelry, and...you get the picture.  The floor below equally assaulted the senses but instead of the sense being smell, it was hearing.  This floor contained a lot of blue and grey and had mostly male staff members shouting and guffawing as they battled each other with remote control toys.  There were lots of vehicles and I'm not sure what else because we were starting to worry about hitting rush hour by then so hurriedly grabbed the toys Tyger seemed most enamoured with (a cuddly Peppa Pig and a pack of Matchbox cars) and made our escape (after paying, I should probably point out).  All I'll say is: seriously, there are no girl's toys and boy's toys.  There are just fracking toys.

All in all, the day was more of a success than we could have hoped for.  Tyger certainly came away with a positive view of London and of course there's the added benefit that it's stopped him going on and on about going there.

...No, of course it hasn't.  He now just goes on and on about the fact he wants to go back.  Ugh.

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