Today I had to post a letter. It was a task that should have taken me 15 minutes tops. Head down, quick march, there and back.
It took me an hour.
Just one decision made that difference. I decided to let Bee walk.
I could quite easily have bundled her up in the sling (or buggy), not having to worry about the hassle of shoes, and been there and back in a flash. Maybe I would have chatted to her along the way, maybe I wouldn’t have. But instead I chose to let Bee walk.
Bee held my hand as we walked to the end of our street. She paused at the curb, and carefully navigated stepping off and back up again the other side. We walked past the pelican crossing that usually takes us to the woods. Bee pointed to the red man, button-pressing finger ready. We made sure to walk on all the bumpy pink pavement slabs. But we weren’t going that way today.
A man got into a parked van and started the engine. Bee stopped to look and listen. Along the side of the path Bee found a gully for drainage water. She pulled me towards it and wobbled along, squeezing her feet inside.
An elderly lady and gentleman got off a double decker bus with squeaky brakes and walked arm in arm with their walking sticks towards us. Bee turned to watch as they passed by, smiling at us.
We reached the postbox and I lifted Bee up so she could post the letters. She put them in and out of the hole over and over before letting them go. Then she tried to get them back.
Back on the ground, we started our walk home. Bee saw two dogs across the road. She pointed and pointed until they were out of sight.
We happened upon a wonky maintenance slab. I would have walked over it but Bee pulled me back. We played for several minutes. Me on one corner bouncing the slab, Bee on the other, giggling and shrieking.
Eventually a passing ambulance, sirens blaring, distracted Bee and we carried on towards home. Bee found the step next to our corner shop, so we climbed up it and jumped off. Five times.
I pushed open the shop door and Bee stepped inside. She inspected all the magazines and papers on the bottom shelf, before collecting a handful of chocolate bars. She brought them to me. I chose Bee a small Freddo bar and lifted her up to the counter. We paid the shopkeeper and he put the chocolate in a bag and handed it to me. Bee smiled and waved. She took the bag and I opened the door. Bee stepped out and we began the last part of our journey.
Back past the red man and the bumpy pavement, down the hill. Bee found a small square water cover. She placed both her feet on it and bounced. It didn’t move like the wobbly one.
Still swinging her bag we carried on to our street. Bee paused at the curb and carefully stepped off and on again. We found the right garden path and walked up to our door. Knock knock. Up the step, through the door and home.
A choice to go slow.
Turned a boring errand into an adventure.