One of the ‘Just you and me, Mum’ birthday gigs a few years ago was to do a ‘hop on and off’ Big Bus Tour of London. LB and I caught the Oxford bus to Marble Arch, nipped into Oxford Street to buy some lunch (LB chose a pasty and coke while I had bean salad and water) then boarded the tour bus. Blue route tickets. The extra long route. We sat upstairs in the open air. It was a brilliant, sunny November day. “This is exciting isn’t it?” I said to LB cheerfully.
After the first few stops at London landmarks, it became apparent that he didn’t want to hop on and off. Or do the free river tour included with the tickets. He wasn’t budging. Even the Tower of London didn’t tempt him off his seat. The sun dropped down behind the City buildings and it became grey and icy cold. Sitting on the top of the bus.
“Gotta huddle LB, it’s freezing!!!” I kept saying to him, trying to lean into his skinny bod for a bit of warmth. He just ignored me. “Wish I’d got soup and coffee… crappy old salad and water,” I grumbled. Silence. LB was the picture of contentment, soaking up the sights and sounds of his favourite city. He didn’t want to talk to me. And he didn’t pay attention to the commentator, who kept telling us to look in certain directions to see particular landmarks. After a few times of trying to get him to look in the ‘right’ direction (for whose benefit?), I gave up. We sat in silence.
By the time we got back to Marble Arch just under four hours later, I was a block of ice. It took until we arrived at the Park and Ride in Oxford before I started to warm up. And the Oxford buses are always snug, warm spaces. What a day, I thought at the time. Chewing over the idiosyncrasies of having a child like LB.
I’d sit on top of that bus in a snow storm now. I’d sit in torrential rain. A thunderstorm. Anything. Just to hang out with him again.