I spent 10 hours of my life yesterday encased in the back of my mother's nissan micra, being gently atomised by it's vibrating protests. A micra just wasn't designed to drive from the north east corner of the 26 counties to the furthest south-west point, just a hen's race shy of the Atlantic.....and back in the same day. I haven't sat in the back of a car for about 25 years, and it isn't fun, no matter how short your legs are.
My brother Joe was driving, and had his masculinity tested to the limited by being behind the wheel of a small girl's car with his mammy in the passenger seat. I added insult to injury by forcing him to call our brother Kevin (I have many brothers and sisters) on my pink Tocco. I managed to torture one of my brothers while simultaneously amusing myself on a long road trip. Result. That's a good day's work for any girl.
Today everything hurts and I am reminded that I am no longer a Sprightly Young Thing, but a par-boiled couch potato with porridge where my youthful ambitions used to be. But that's OK, as I quite like porridge.
The reason for our road trip was that my beautiful baby niece Sorcha was being christened in The Kingdom, and disintegrated joints aside, it was an honour to be there for her special day. We had a lovely afternoon and really enjoyed seeing our extended family again.
Meanwhile, back in Bobsville, James was holding the fort.
He had a busy agenda as Bob had a birthday party in the morning (with one of his classmates...a huge success by all reports!), Toad No.2 had a sleep over arranged, which would begin at precisely 4pm (she had THREE bags packed since last week) and Toad No.1 had his youth club in the evening. Phew! I really couldn't complain about being contorted in the back of a mobile bean tin.....all I had to do was chat to my mum and poke at my brother's ego with pointy sticks.
James decided that lunch that didn't involve cooking or washing up was in order, so they repaired to the nearest burger and chips emporium (aka Burger King in Dundalk). In the shopping centre they went to there is a big motorised Rolly (the green roller in Bob) that you put a euro into for a spin.
These gadgets can either be a blessing or a curse, but James decided to put the opportunity to good use and to put Rolly to gainful employment as a bargaining chip.
Bob was haded a euro and told "lunch first, then spin on Rolly". Bob, who has a 'mild learning disability' (yeah, right) didn't need to be told twice.
Whenever he started to misbehave he was reminded that he had to sit properly, eat his lunch and then he'd get his spin.
One (almost) immaculately behaved lunch later, Bob opened his tightly gripped fist, popped his euro in the slot and revved Rolley into life.
Bob, at the age of 5 1/2, has a few dozen words and still isn't fully toilet trained, and could easily be underestimated (or even pitied) as being a builder's apprentice rather than the engineering maestro we know that he is. But he knows what's important, and is more than capable of engaging with his Daddy and negotiating his reward for good behaviour.
James turned a mundane event (and one which could have been a cause of conflict) into an opportunity to learn...what a cool way to teach, with a spin on Rolly thrown in for good measure.