I'm a firm believer in use it or lose it. I realise how amazingly lucky I am to be bringing up my son in such a fantastic cosmopolitan city, full of wonderful things to see and do and magical places to go to, many of which are completely free. Despite comments from friends and family that I spend more time out and about than at home, I'm not hanging up my pram wheels just yet, especially not when there's so much fun to be had!
We've been to the Manchester Art Gallery today for their Big Draw event, aimed at engaging families and their littlies with drawing. T was nonplussed as we walked through town, mainly because we'd forgotten the raincover for the pushchair (although he was wearing an anorak) and the drizzle was persistent. He was still sulking as we carried him up the front steps (there is a ramp but my husband refused to walk the extra distance!) and collected our map from the main entrance.
He perked up a little as we passed through the shop into the wide bright museum atrium and spotted attraction one though, fluorescent face paint. There was a big sign reassuring parents it was non-toxic. I'm not sure exactly how they make non-toxic luminous pink, yellow and lurid green paint, they're not exactly colours from nature, but my curiosity didn't stop me handing T a brush and allowing him to attack his own face, using another toddler as a 'mirror' to see what to do. Much splodging later, and whilst I celebrated the fact he'd managed to avoid his eyes although obviously not his mouth, my husband declared the resulting decoration 'made T look stupid' and demanded we baby wipe it off to be replaced by a design of his own choosing (!!) Cue a pink tiger (they'd run out of orange paint by this point, so long had we been applying, scrubbing and debating how to reapply) who seemed much cheered.
We went through the atrium to the disco room, where T was given a glow stick and crawled around surrounded by disco lights to music I remember I wasn't cool enough for in my youth. From there into the shadow room, plastered from floor to ceiling in white paper, with piles of pencils and Berol felt-tipped pens all over the floor for children to use as they wished. T wouldn't sit still long enough to have his hand drawn round, but he did find a tasty purple marker and seemed content to suck it for a while whilst I exchanged harrassed glances with other parents and expressed relief that he probably wasn't old enough to want to replicate the 'drawing on the walls' experience at home!
The giant cardboard maze, also available for colouring-in, was being hastily mended by a member of staff wielding a giant roll of parcel tape as we played. Over excited toddlers scrapping over the last few inches of virgin card had pulled sections to the ground. T's latest 'trick' is to roar like a lion. Or a tiger. Or an elephant or hippo (the other animals in his set). Clearly authenticity isn't his strong point. My husband tried to attract his interest by drawing a giraffe on one wall. Half way through I asked why he was carefully outlining an offshore oil rig. Look at the purple thing in the middle of this pic. Those were legs apparently. T was also confused by it obviously as he didn't even attempt to roar.
We rounded off a succesful afternoon by completely failing to buy 'only the essentials' at Sainsbury's and having a nap on the way home (T). He went to bed happily at 6.55 pm, which doesn't bode well for a settled night. Tomorrow we're back at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital to see the specialist about his nose (more to follow). I'm not sure what he'll make of the purple streaks under his chin, in his hair, down the side of his nose and in one ear. Apparently non-toxic bright pink tiger paint washes off. Felt pen does not.