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The Redster: Three years and eleven months
Babeling: Nine months

A different form of transport

*Applause*
Babymother: Thank you. Thank you.
*More applause*
Babymother: Thank you. Thank you so much.
*Applause finally dies down*

BM: Thank you. I really could not have done this journey alone. No really. I have so many people to thank. Where to start? Well, specifically, on a train that should have got me to Gare du Nord in plenty of time to catch the Eurostar, but unaccountably turned back on itself three quarters of the way there.

Still, I would very much like to thank:

That nice man on the wrong platform of the SNCF station who pointed me to the right platform, and then carried one end of the buggy down two flights of steps and up two flights of steps without putting it down in between. Shame that I missed a train in the meantime.

The nice man who I asked directions from at St Lazare, and who took us (via a long flight of stairs) to the lift for the right platform. The Redster did her best to keep up. The lift wasn’t working. You then gallantly took me to the platform by helping lift the buggy down another long flight of stairs.

The Redster, who needed the toilet but agreed to cross her legs.

The nice English-speaking lady on the way to Gare du Nord who reassured me that we could still possibly catch our Eurostar train even though there was only twenty minutes to go. I asked you the way and you decided to get us there if it killed you. You wore my backpack and we ran the whole way (between escalators) to the Eurostar check-in. I’m extremely grateful. The check-in was closed.

The Redster, who had to run full pelt with a full bladder and didn’t throw herself onto the floor and wail.

The nice people at Eurostar who allowed us to be booked onto the next train at no extra cost. You also did your best to find seats for me and the Redster in the same carriage. Shame there weren’t any.

The Redster, who managed to keep her legs crossed while we queued for new tickets and went through the check-in and security.

The French security bloke who allowed me to wheel the buggy through security without being x-rayed or metal-detected. (I couldn’t help thinking of all the things I could have been concealing under the babeling’s blanket, but never mind.)

The nice English woman we met in the toilets who said she’d help us onto the train. You helped us onto coach 17 and when we heard there were two seats together on coach 5 you got us off the train and sprinted down the platform with us, with seconds to go, leaving your luggage back in 17. Hope your luggage was still there when you got back.

The nice South African women behind us on the train who held a bewildered babeling for me at least twice.

The nice Japanese tourists in front who made beautiful origami trinkets for the Redster throughout the journey. At least you received a torn piece of paper that the Redster had scribbled on and folded in half to take back to Japan.

Babyfather, who met us at Waterloo and relieved me of my enormous backpack.

The bloke who found the Redster’s fleece after we dropped it at Finsbury Park.

The Redster, who didn’t have a tantrum until we got home.

The babeling, who was didn’t lose it until the last ten minutes, which after six hours and seven trains is pretty impressive.

Society is not dead. Either that, or there’s something about the sight of a weedy and dishevelled woman with a large backpack pushing a buggy and towing a three-year-old that inspires people to help. I even never had to wait at the bottom of steps and look around for help – someone was always at hand, offering.

Thank you, and goodnight.

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This whole babe / babeling thing is too confusing, as you may have noticed.

Henceforth, the babe is no longer the babe in this blog. Let her now be known as:

The Redster.

I think that suits her very well. In fact, I’m not sure why we didn’t think of that back in 2003 at the registry office.

Babe: Three years and eleven months
Babeling: Eight months

I could eat her

Babymother: Hello beautiful.
Babeling: Awa!
BM: You are just SO gorgeous.
Babeling: Ba ba ba ba?
BM: You’re too cute. I could eat you!
Babeling: Bwa bwa pah.
BM: Let me eat those chubby arms! Mwa mwa mwa
Babeling: Hee hee!
BM: And those chubby legs! Mwa mwa mwa
Babeling: Hee hee hee!
BM: Tickletickletickle!
Babeling: Chucklechucklechuckle!
BM: Tickletick…WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING? PUT THAT BACK!
Babeling: WAAaaaaaaah!
Babe: But I want it!
BM: I’VE TOLD YOU BEFORE! IT’S NOT A TOY!
Babeling: WWAAAAAaaaaaHH!
Babe: YOU’RE NOT MY FRIEND ANY MORE! (pokes babeling, hard)
Babeling: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
BM: That’s it. Naughty step.
(drags babe to step leaving babeling crying alone on the floor)
Babeling: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
BM (returning):Right. Where were we?
Babeling: Sob.

Oliver James, that’s the celebrity psychologist not the celebrity chef, says that although siblings are born into the same family they might as well have completely different parents. When the babe was eight months I don’t think an expression had passed across her face that I had not observed and I’d probably spent 80% of her waking moments giving her my full attention. The babeling, however, gets dumped on the floor for thirty minutes at a time with the same three toys while I do washing up and chat to her sister over my shoulder, and even at mealtimes I’m shovelling food into the babeling mechanically while I cajole/rebuke/explain to/laugh with the babe. It’s just not fair.

Nanny observed a meal at our last visit when I had to take the babe upstairs for an emergency toilet trip, or something, leaving the babeling in the highchair, all bibbed up and nothing to eat.

‘She’s very patient,’ she commented. ‘Just sat there and waited for you to get back.’

Hmm. At some point she is going to realise that she is being short changed, and start to formulate a Strategy. Who wouldn’t? I just hope it’s a relatively benign one.