Taunton (where I live) has a toad trail going on at the moment. It’s one of those things that’s meant to get kids excited about being outdoors and walking further than the toy shop to McDonald’s. There’s a trail map, an app and colourful painted toads dotted in and around Taunton.
(I just had a look at the website to find out exactly how many toads, and it says ‘over 22’, which seems weird to me. ‘Over 20’ maybe, but ‘over 22’? What does that mean? Are there 23?)
We lived in Bristol when the original Gromit trail took place and honestly, we got a bit obsessed with it. I say ‘we’, but I don’t remember Bee being exactly cock-a-hoop about it. Bee is adamant though that in a picture we have of her with a ball, not even two years old, (which I can’t find), she was thinking to herself ‘this is boring, I wonder when I’m allowed to stop?’ I told her she seemed to be enjoying it at the time but she says she was just pretending because that’s what she thought she was meant to like.
Belle got on board with the Gromits though, and we found all 80, although on reflection she may have been humouring me. She even let me have fridge magnets made of the photos.
Where am I going with this? Oh yes. At the time, wandering all over Bristol, following a map and looking for giant dog statues, I thought I was doing it for the kids. Ditto years of crazy golf, murder mystery trailers, organising stationery drawers, watching animated films at the cinema, that sort of thing. Oh the sacrifices I made! So selfless! Of course I’d have rather been at the opera or reading the news or whatever it is grown ups like to do.
Only it turns out it’s not true.
Turns out IT WAS ME ALL ALONG.
‘Do you want to see if we can find all the toads?’ I keep asking Belle. I want her to ask me how many there are so that I can say ‘over 22’ but she has yet to show that level of interest.
‘No,’ is always the disappointing answer, which makes me sad because IS a 41 year old woman allowed to look for giant painted toads on her own??
The older they’ve got and and the less inclined they’ve become to accompany me on activities, the more I’ve realised that I love all of the things that are meant to be for children. It seems that parenting has been little more than an excuse for me to get to do the treasure hunts at National Trust properties.
I should probably have twigged a few years ago when I went to Amsterdam on my own and got the kids’ audio guide for the Van Gogh museum, but it was a QUARTER of the price and honestly, that CBBC presenter made the art history extremely accessible.
It’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about having become a Granny, because soon I will have a brand new excuse to take part in Easter egg hunts and go to Diggerland. I’ve already played a round of crazy golf with baby Joey strapped to my front and he didn’t cry once, so I think he enjoyed it.
In the meantime, while I wait for baby Joey to be old enough to justify me asking for the wordsearch puzzle sheet at Pizza Express, I guess I’ll just have to embrace my inner child and look for the toads on my own.
One down, ‘over 21’ to go.