Well, it all seemed like a very good idea some weeks ago now, in the way that we somehow believe that things will all work out fine and we’ll have loads of spare capacity to cope with things we’d never dream of agreeing to do today or tomorrow. As a result, this week has been a little bit crazy, and tomorrow may even be crazier.
I’ve been offered a stall at one of my favourite local events of the year – and that part of it is an enormous “Woohoo”. Tomorrow is the day when Sutton Council, in conjunction with The Sutton Parent’s Forum, have their Family Fun and Information Day for children with disabilities and their families. It has always been one of the highlights of Toby’s year – the other one being The Lord Mayor’s Show with all that marching which he adores.
The Fun Day happens in our local leisure centre, and it’s always been the one day when Toby can roam around freely among people who totally understand what he is all about, with no staring, no judgemental mutterings and total acceptance. What’s more, for a young man of 20 who has the mind of a toddler, it’s normally heartbreaking to stop him climbing onto any bouncy castle or into any soft play area we see – he doesn’t understand that he’s too big and might frighten the parents of the real toddlers. Tomorrow, that doesn’t matter. He can bouncy castle all day if he wants to and nobody will bat an eyelid. Even better, because we’ve lived in the borough all his life and we’ve been so active in all the disability activities and organisations since forever, it always feels like we know virtually everyone, so he’ll be completely in his element.
So I’m rather excited to be there tomorrow as one of the stall-holders as well as a mum, except for one small detail. The organisers suggested that if we also run an activity for children, more people will come and talk to me about the book. This is what sounded like a grand idea right at the beginning of September. Jumping in with both feet and biting off far more than I’ll ever chew, I said “Fabulous! I’ll run a play-dough activity”.
I haven’t made play-dough for well over a decade, since Francesca and Adam were toddlers themselves. Toby has always been very dismissive of arts and crafts so I’ve been play-dough free for years. It’s also very different making play-dough for two small children, and play-dough for the 160 families expected to turn up tomorrow.
How much stuff do you make? This much?
You tell me! Haven’t got a clue and I’ve done the maths a thousand times. It certainly feels like industrial quantities of the mucky stuff. Each blob is as big as a melon. Is that enough for the eventuality that every family will have four play-dough crazy children with them? To be honest, having stayed up half the night making it, I’m almost past caring.
Tomorrow it looks like it will just be me and Malcolm manning the stall, and me chatting and signing books all day and Malcolm barely able to bear to touch the stuff, supervising the table is going to be fun. Any other Saturday since time began, Adam and Francesca would be more than happy to help, but tomorrow their Dad is having a Birthday Breakfast for his sixtieth so they’re out of the picture. I never like to admit it, but the whole idea of being “on duty” for 5 hours tomorrow is a little daunting. I also try to consign that spoil-sport cancer of mine to the smallest corner of my life too, but the reality is that I get exhausted far more quickly than I ever like to let on.
Hey ho, it’ll be fun. I’m pretending to moan a little bit, but here’s what I did when I had a rare hour alone in the house earlier.
Since I’m just like Toby and hopelessly uncrafty, I’d better explain that you’re actually looking at a caterpillar, a snail and a pig. Toby will be coming to the Fun Day too, but with a carer from his care home. He’ll be rather sniffy about mum in charge of this boring stuff – if it was up to him I’d be in charge of giving him exclusive bouncy castle rights all day.
All I now have to do is rush out to buy some printer ink, print the leaflets I’ve just designed – hundreds of them – and print and laminate some stuff to decorate the tables.
What the worst thing that could possibly go wrong? N body turning up! So tomorrow, if you’re anywhere near the Phoenix Centre in Mollison Drive in Wallington, which is next door to Croydon, please pop in and say hello. I’ll even let you play with my play-dough!
If you fancy coming along, here are the details.
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