The Cardiff crew are lucky enough to have the help of a very nice woman called Louise with their cleaning. Until recently she came on one of the days when B was at nursery, and he knew no more than that he'd go out of a house full of tchrums and come home to a clean one. But now she has changed her day to Thursday, when he's at home, and this has had two effects: firstly, it's moved B from a mild to a passionate interest in cleaning; and secondly, it's reinforced his fear of loud machinery - the industrial-strength vacuum cleaner that Louise uses reducing him to absolute hysterics every time she turns it on. This morning when R and I arrived, Louise was trying to do her job without being spotted or heard, which clearly wasn't sustainable, and after B and I had had a very serious conversation in which I'd explained that when people have work to do we just have to let them get on with it, and B had countered that she was allowed to hoover upstairs, but not in the sitting room or dining room or kitchen, R suggested that he, B and I should go to the café along the road for a drink and a biscuit, to give us all (including Louise) some peace and quiet.
Immediately, B was all smiles. "Bye Louise!" he said, waving a cheery hand as we left. But once outside: "No hoovering," he said to me, frowning and shaking his head firmly. "Don't worry about it," I replied. "By the time we get back, the hoovering will all be done." The frown deepened. "Not in my room," he insisted. R intervened again, and suggested we should swing him along the pavement. B was in favour of this idea, so we progressed down the road in time-honoured fashion: one grandparent holding each of the Boy's hands, and everyone counting to three (or five, or nine, or sometimes ten, in B's case) before R and I lifted him by the arms, swung him forward and set him down on his feet again. He'd happily have done this all morning. I was glad when we reached the café.
R had picked up the nearest book as we left the house, and after spooning the froth off a babyccino and sharing some shortbread with me, B went through it and explained various things to his Granddad. If you could see his face at this moment, I'm pretty sure you'd find yourself saying "Meeow" along with the Boy. He also fed the Egg on the E page to the next-door Fish, and told us that if the Monkey was in the café with us it would be climbing up on the overhead light. We had a fine time, and he forgot about the vacuum cleaner until an hour later, when we'd swung him back along the street and arrived back at his house. But when we opened the door to silence, he told me "Don' wuyyey 'bout it," because Louise had clearly finished hoovering and left.
After lunch and a trip to the park, B spent the remainder of the afternoon playing a complex game of his own devising, which involved riding his tricycle across the room ("I go to work. I drivin' now."); making some imaginary things - the identity of which we never managed to fathom - and giving them to each of us in turn ("Some more for you."); and then getting back on his trike ("I finish workin' now. I goin' 'way."), riding it to the sofa, getting off, cooking a meal - that is, stirring a box of bricks with a drumstick - and presenting it to R. Every now and then this highly organised game would be interrupted by a manic few minutes in which he ran wildly around the room, yelling and throwing toys in all directions... and then he'd stop, pick them up again, put them back in whatever container was their home, and return to the going to work game.
It was a fascinating and rewarding day.
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