‘Where’s daddy going?’

‘To work.’

Lula looks long and hard at Clock House station.


‘Well he gets the train from there. Like I do… Did.’ Ha.

‘What do you do at work?’

‘Er. Well…’ I have to think hard, the memories are already fuzzy, ‘Have meetings. Write things.’

And that’s about it. I can’t think of anything else that I do…DID… at work.

‘It sounds boring.’

Yeah. It is. I can’t tell her this though as I want her to develop a strong Protestant work ethic. Heaven forbid she grows up thinking that it’s fine to just drop out of school or work and go bum around the world.

‘What are we doing today then?’ She asks expectantly, now she’s got her head around the work issue.

Party, I think, ‘There’s a huge party.’ Focus on the party. ‘Then we’re going to the doctor,’ I mumble.

She doesn’t focus on the party. ‘Why are we going to the doctor?’

‘Er. Well…’ I mumble something unintelligible.

‘What mummy?’

‘Well, I need you to hold my hand…’ Whilst I grasp at straws.

She doesn’t ask any more questions. She is too distracted by the snow and the complexity involved in putting on her fingerless gloves.

We get to the doctor’s and wait to be called.

‘Who’s first then?’ The nurse says raising her eyebrows at me. For a moment I think of shoving Lula in front of me but some latent mothering instinct kicks in.

‘Guess that should be me.’

The problem with this is that it means I have to utterly not show fear or pain. Not even a whisper of panic. I have to smile as she produces the four needles and act nonchalant. This is not an easy thing for me. I fear needles and mostly I fear pain. Lula is speechless which is rare. Like how birds go quiet before an earthquake.

I roll up my sleeves.

‘Ok are you ready? I’m going to do the first one,’ the nurse says.

‘Don’t tell me!’ I shriek.’ Just do it.’ I close my eyes and thrust my arm in her direction.

La la la la la la la

Owwwwwwwww  – I manage not to scream.  I hum Abba instead.  I imagine poor Katie Holmes staying silent during labour and this gives me strength.

‘There that’s two – one more.’


Now it’s Lula’s turn.  She is wide eyed in the face of my Joker grimace.

‘So you’re going travelling then?’ The nurse asks.

I wince at her – shhhh. I don’t want any connection in Lula’s mind with needles, pain and travelling. Like those rats that get electric shocks until they learn to take food from a certain bowl – I don’t want her brain wiring so that she hears the word travelling and thinks of needles.  Durrr I want to say to the nurse but she is busy filling a syringe. I can’t look so focus on pulling down Lula’s jeans (her arms being too skinny for needles they go with the haunch every time).

Lula starts to squirm like a lamb in the slaughterhouse.

She screams as she is stuck with the needle and I feel  the guilt that only a mother can feel.

The nurse gives her a sticker that says ‘Today at the doctor’s I was as brave as a lion.’

I stop myself from asking for my three.

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