Special Cuddles

The first little traveller was five when she first asked how the fourth little traveller had got inside my tummy.

“Dad and I had a special cuddle.” I was pleased with my answer. Simple, no lies, we still had plenty of time before she needed the details but we’d got the ball rolling.

She immediately made an announcement to the neighbourhood. “Mummy’s having a baby and guess how the baby got in her tummy?!”  There was a mixture of fear and amusement on the neighbour’s face as he waited for the answer.

“Mum and Dad had a special cuddle!” I decided to check the mailbox while the neighbour tried to get the visual out of his head.

We were in the car a few year later when travellers two and three required cuddle details. Like a couple of investigative journalists they fired questions while making mental notes.

“But where were you when you had the special cuddle?”

“Well, there was more than one cuddle.”

The second little traveller agreed that it very clear, we’d obviously had four special cuddles. One for each child.

“No, we’ve had other special cuddles” I offered. Some people have cuddles over and over again but there’s not always a baby.

“Where do you usually have them? In the bathroom?” the second traveller thought we’d want to be somewhere clean.

“No, mostly in bed”

“Does the doctor come to watch?”

“Why would the doctor come to watch?

“To make sure you’re doing it properly.”

“No, there’s been no need to involve anyone else thus far.”

“Do you get tired? How long does it take? When can we start having special cuddles?” the questions were flying thick and fast.

A few years on and we were holidaying with friends in London. With their two young children and our four, we became experts at crowd control and minute by minute head counts. We were standing outside of Westminster Abbey when my friend Billy decided we’d all engage in an Amazing Race style adventure and perform the mile run in under a minute to get to the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. G took the hands of two children while I grabbed the others. As we sprinted across Birdcage Walk, red-faced and giggling at the ridiculousness of how we must have looked to passers by Henry Hotdog decided it was the perfect time to ask how babies were made.

“Mum! Mum!” he yelled for me to stop.

“Can it wait! Billy wants us to run.”

“But Mum, how did you make me? How do the babies get in the tummies of the Mummies.”

And so there, as we ran across St James Park with the sounds of hooves clopping along the streets and a marching band in the distance, I launched into special cuddles version four.

This morning Henry Hotdog came to join me in bed as he does every morning. He wanted to know why we chose four.

“How come when you had Lizzie, Annie and Fred, how come you had me.”

“Because we just felt we were missing someone, we didn’t feel we were complete.” I wiped the hair from his eyes and wondered if we could hold off on a haircut until we got home for the summer.

“You know, when I found out I was pregnant with you I bought the cutest baby onesy in a cow print and gave it to Daddy to unwrap. That’s how I told him you were in my tummy.”

“Where is it?”

“I kept it. It’s in your special box on top of the cupboard.”

“Can I have it?”

“I’ll give you the box when you’re bigger, maybe when you’re 18.”

“But I’ll probably leave home before then?”

“We’ll that’s okay, I’ll make sure you get it.”

“But I probably won’t come back once I leave.”

“Really?”

“Yes. I’ll be busy with my own family. I’ll be busy having special cuddles.”

It was 6am, my coffee suddenly didn’t feel strong enough. Vodka felt appropriate.

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