As a 40+ father of two it is fair to say that my husband's clubbing days are disappearing fast in the rear view mirror of life, however every now and again he manages to ressurrect his inner disco kid, elbow the spotty youth's of today out of his path, brave the taunts of "what you doing here Grandad!" and hit the mean streets of nocturnal Manchester. Last friday was one such occasion as he went out to celebrate a friend's 40th birthday.
Not wanting to be woken up by fetid wine breath and post-dancing sweaty body I had suggested he stay over at a friends and knew he would not be back at any decent hour the next day and/or would be good for nothing, so I arranged with a friend to take our kids out for the day.
We decided to go to Eureka, the children's museum in Halifax. I've visited several times before and highly recommend it as a place that can entertain children of all ages for hours. The museum is celebrating it's 18th birthday this year and there were some little events put on at certain times during the day, one of which was face painting at 3 pm.
It had been a long day. Both kids had been up since 5 am, there had been too much excitement, sugar and sun, and it was time to take our leave, however I promised my 3 year old son that before we left he could have his face painted. Having a superhero fixation at present, he was determined upon having a batman face, and I was sure that was possible.
As we queued for the face painting a helpful lady from Eureka then advised us that it was not so much 'face painting' as a 'paint your own face' workshop. I started to worry. I am not blessed with any particular artistic skills. I tried to let my son down gently. 'Darling, I don't think that a batman face is a good idea. How about something else. Mummy is going to have to paint your face and I'm not very good..'
My son was sticking to his guns, and his bottom lip started to quiver omminously. The first warning sign of a possible tantrum. Some tantrums I can diffuse and cope with easily enough, but this was a possible tantrum against the background of having an already overtired and overwrought toddler. Dangerous territory.
We were at the front of the queue and at the allotted time were ushered into the 'paint your own face' area when the lady stated that as there were lots of people wanting to paint their faces and not much time, we all had to be very quick.
I ran to the painting area dragging my son with me. 'Quick, what colour is Batman's face?' I asked him. 'Blue' he firmly replied. I sponged bright blue onto his little face then froze. I had absolutely no idea what batman looked like and had to come up with an alternative. This was a highly pressured situation and I couldn't think of a single sodding thing that had a blue face. Apparently neither could anyone else as no-one replied to my panic-stricken cries of 'What has a blue face? What exactly has a blue face?'.
At this point the not-so-helpful lady from Eureka chirruped 'OK, 30 seconds left'.
Oh....dear....god....Nothing came to me. I grabbed the nearest paintbrush and without thinking painted onto my son some hefty black eyebrows, whiskers and a moustache which through some miracle just stopped short of being a passable Hitler impression. He looked at me, his little trusting eyes full of expectation and asked what his face looked like. I stammered something unintelligible. He grabbed a nearby hand mirror , looked at himself then wailed in horror at full volume 'Mummy - WHAT AM I?????!!!!!'
I thought a quick exit was best at this point and hurried to the car with my screaming toddler in full blown tantrum mode, who didn't stop crying until all traces of blue paint had been wet wiped from his face. Face painting is clearly a skill which should only be practised by seasoned professionals.