Most of the time, since I became a mother, I have been almost permanently alarmed at the rate at which things fly by, the sheer speed at which my tiny babies grow and become stronger and bigger, and more independent. While the days don’t always fly by, the weeks, months and years certainly do and I have tried so very hard to hold onto moments and enjoy things as they happen, rather than looking forward too much.

The phrase ‘I can’t wait until he can…..’ has been banned from being said in our house, to ensure we don’t wish the time away.

Apart from one thing.

Since becoming a parent, I have been dreaming of taking my boys to a show. Any show really, as long as it involves music and dancing and some sort of spectacular fabulousness. I LOVE a musical and couldn’t wait to share this with my children.

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Archie has loved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for a while now; he has watched the film a few times and, apart from the odd wobble when the Child Catcher is on (we fast forward those parts!), it is something he wants to see again and again. He pretends his cars are Chitty, he makes up stories about flying cars and even his birthday cake in December was Chitty themed.

So when I saw that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was touring the UK right through 2016, I decided to risk getting us matinee tickets, even though – and here lay the risk – I’d never even taken him to the pantomime. Or any live show. So this was a BIG one to start with. Eeek!!

And last weekend, we did it. It was a full on mummy and son day as we had quite a drive, so we loaded the car up with snacks and audio books and set off. We hardly EVER get this time together and I think we were both so ready and excited for it.

I found our way there thanks to my ever helpful sat nav, I usually find Leeds quite tricky but the West Yorkshire Playhouse proved fairly easy to find. Once we had found the playhouse, I decided not to risk losing it again by disappearing off into town for lunch so we had lunch in the restaurant, which was SUPER busy but had loads and loads of choices, perfect for a filling lunch for children.

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We then went into the theatre. I decided to go in a bit early to get Archie used to his surroundings and to explain what would happen, how it would go dark and the stage would light up, etc. He seemed a bit apprehensive but relaxed a little with all the people watching we were able to do! He was also VERY proud when the staff came round with a booster seat for him – I think he felt all special (and he could definitely see better, and cope with the flippy chairs a bit more easily).

Then the show started. And it was BRILLIANT!!!! Really, really funny and entertaining and fast paced. We were fairly near the front so we both had a great view and Archie loved all the bits he recognised, especially the songs and of course the CAR!! There were parts in the show that weren’t in the film; a couple of songs were new and I think this baffled him a bit, but they ended up being my favourite parts so there really was something for everyone.

The show was split into two parts, of 1hr 15m and 50m. The break was helpful for restless legs and loo breaks, but after the interval Archie actually seemed more restless. I reassured him this was the shorter section and he settled into it, but when the Child Catcher came on he told me he wanted to leave. Serious dilemma. I really didn’t want him to stay and be scared but I had heard that the Child Catcher part was really short so didn’t want him to leave if it was all going to be over in two minutes.

As it was, after I asked him why he wanted to leave and he told me, and I had reminded him that the Child Catcher wasn’t real, but we could go if he wanted, the character was disappearing off stage so Archie chose to stay. And then he was DELIGHTED he had stayed, as there is a samba dance party on stage which is BRILLIANT and he, along with everybody else, loved it. It is definitely a show for everyone, there were a lot of children in the audience but also a load of adults, and I imagine the evening audiences would be way more adult heavy.

After the classic happy ending and the final bows, we made our way through the crowds outside and set off to find some food. It is about a ten minute walk into town from the playhouse, perhaps a little more with weary four year old feet. Our old favourite Pizza Express appeared before our eyes so we went in for a quick pizza.

We were just looking through the programme and chatting about our favourite bits (him: when the car flew and when they sung ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’, me: the song ‘Act English’ – amazing) when who should walk in but the actor who had played Baron Bomburst!! I didn’t really know what to do, as he caught me staring at him with the programme in hand, so I just smiled and was very grateful he was seated round a corner!!

The day was rounded off with a piggy back back to the car, where I popped Archie in his pyjamas ready for the journey home. I drove all the way home in the snow and the rain (with only Dermot on Radio 2 for company, heaven) only to find myself skidding backwards down the hill next to my road as it was just too snowy.

I managed to park, and now my final memory of that day is carrying a sleepy boy through silent white streets as the snow came down gently on us. It was a magical end to a magical day, our first theatre trip together and one I will never forget.

 

Diary of an imperfect mum