Our little family has had one of those days that makes me realise how very lucky we are. It’s been a day of adventure, a day of firsts, a day of laughter, and above all, a day filled with happiness. It’s been a day which has made me think about how fortunate we are to have each other and to be loved by one another. It’s also been a day which has made me appreciate what a gift it is that we are all healthy and happy.
We ventured into the West End on the tube today for Milin and Jasmin’s first trip to Hamleys. I grew up believing it was the best toy shop in the world. I still believe it, and I think after today, Milin might grow up thinking the same.
We were lucky enough to be allowed into the store an hour before it opened and filled with crowds. We were there for the launch of the Thomas and Friends Christmas Journey – a trip which will see the Fat Controller deliver presents to children in hospitals around the UK and Ireland.
As soon as we got inside, Milin became very, very quiet. With wide open eyes, he took it all in. There were so many toys. Everywhere. He didn’t say a word. He gladly accepted his Thomas the Tank Engine flag, sat on the floor to have his shoes “pumped up”, and finally smiled at this crazy world he’d entered when handed a reindeer balloon.
Upstairs, he got up close to Thomas and came over all shy when he met Rusty and the Fat Controller. That is, until it came to story time. While the other children sat on the mat, Milin marched up to the front as if this was all for him. He peered in close to the Fat Controller’s storybook, he pointed at the pages, and he followed the story intently.
Milin is a little 22-month-old boy who loves “toot toots”. To see his face light up with a story about them, or by being given a flag featuring them, filled me with cheer. And that’s what the Fat Controller and stories about Thomas will bring to children in hospitals this Christmas when perhaps they aren’t otherwise feeling so bright.
Later, we walked around the store and quietly, secretly, picked out a few Christmas presents for our little people. Milin had no idea. He’ll love them, I’m sure.
Tony and I were amazed at how quiet he was all day. Only once did he pick up a box (with a toy rocket and astronaut inside) and say to me “Pay the man, Mummy”. I put the box back and he didn’t say a word more. (Of course I bought the rocket, how could I resist? But he doesn’t know that yet…)
Jasmin, who spent most of the event asleep in the front pack, was also perfectly behaved. It was the first time we’ve taken her into central London, and I’d been worried. But with a carefully timed feed (over a coffee, just before the event started), and with her strapped into her beloved front pack, Jasmin was a happy little girl. She looked around when she was awake – but that was clearly tiring work.
Managing the single buggy on the tube was straightforward too. We used the GoBaby App to research our journey and did the whole thing without steps. Getting off at Green Park (lifts from platform to exit) meant a lovely stroll through the West End too. As far as journeys go, it was stress free and made me more confident about doing it more. It was, I should remember though, a quiet Sunday morning.
And so, it was a day which we’ll all remember. We had fun, we had laughs, we had each other.
Tony and I are so lucky to have two such beautiful, happy, healthy children. I can’t imagine my child being ill in hospital. I can’t imagine coping with not having them by my side at home at night. I can’t imagine knowing they are really sick.
We have been given two extraordinary gifts, and days like today are a reminder to cherish them.
Many children will spend Christmas in hospital. Many will also spend many other days and nights of this year and next there too. I wish so much strength and love to them and their families. I wish they can go home soon.