By: Blonde Two

As you know, Blonde One and I spend a lot of our spare time walking with people who are younger than us.  We have found out (both to our cost and to our gain) that younger doesn’t necessarily mean slower or smaller.  Yesterday I had an experience that I haven’t had for a wee while – I went on a small person’s Bimble up to the Dartmoor Christmas Tree.

I used to do a lot of walking around with more than my fair share of small people; most of them belonged to me but we often picked up strays along the way.  I haven’t done it for a while but discovered today that walking around with someone else’s small people is much more relaxing.  I did take Not-At-All-Blonde (daughter) with me as well but she, although still mine, she is no longer a small person (although we did hold hands some of the time).

With someone else’s small people, it is no longer your responsibility to decide which shoes they will wear, how many layers of jumpers will be needed or whether or not to insist on the itchy hat.  You can carry snacks that are of your own liking and spare clothing that will fit you (although Not-At-All-Blonde did end up wearing most of my emergency kit).  If they are stroppy (none were), you can walk away or make sympathetic “I remember it well” noises.  On the other hand, if they are delightful (all were absolutely so), you can have the most fabulous of times absorbing some of their enthusiasm and excitement.

Some parenting instincts, however, never seem to go away.  I imagine that I am not the only woman who has found herself standing next to her recalcitrant teenagers in Sainsburys, rocking the shopping trolley, in an attempt to stop them arguing.  Whether the youngsters are fifteen or five, it would appear that my shepherding skills are with me for life.  I am, for example, a particularly hesitant road crosser when alone but when accompanied with groups of youngsters (and very youngsters) I have to fight back urges to step into the road and stop all traffic so that they can pass safely across.

I also enjoy hand-holding and have to be careful sometimes to remember that even the most wayward of fifteen year olds don’t really like this.  My most engrained outdoor parenting skill appears to be the “look back”.  You use the “look back” as you and your party of youngsters are leaving an area – a quick visual scan can reveal all manner of cuddly toys, itchy hats and favourite sticks.  The skill remains the same for more mature Dartmoor expeditions except that you tend to find cuddly toys, itchy hats and compasses.

It was a lovely trip, watching Not-At-All-Blonde reading the Dartmoor Christmas Tree story to two small people was a real seasonal treat. The weather turned foul last night – the Two Blondes will be up to check on the Tree again soon.