I took the baby pram to a charity shop this week. Our youngest has levelled up and so it’s time to start getting rid of all the baby equipment. Gone are the bottles and the bendy plastic spoons and the That’s Not My… board books that are so repetitive you can do any of them with your eyes closed. Gone are the once-white baby grows. Gone is the door bouncer. Gone is the second-hand bottle steriliser that tripped the electrics every time we tried to use it. Gone is the baby. She’s all grown up.
Before I take the pram to the charity shop, I take it outside and clean it as thoroughly as I can. Remnants of old sick, rice cakes, miscellaneous food and nature have etched themselves into every single nook and cranny.
By the time I’m finished, the pram looks almost presentable. It’s been through a lot. Two kids. Multiple trips through Leigh Woods. Sandy beaches. Muddy beaches. Pebbly beaches. It even went on a plane once. I’m mourning the early days. Of both children.
I notice our eldest doesn’t need to stand on a chair to reach the taps any more. She has grown up enough that she can turn the taps on and wave her hands in the air until they meet the water.
I remember taking her out for the first time in that pram by myself. She wouldn’t stop crying. The household needed a rest. I decided to take her out. I placed her in the pram as she screamed and screamed. I weighed her down with a blanket and I took her out. Crossing the road was difficult. She was crying so I was on edge. A car stopped for me as I ever so carefully edged two wheels then four wheels on to the pavement. She started to quieten. But the driver beeped his frustration and she started bawling again. I managed a five-minute walk before admitting defeat. I stood in front of the dry cleaners, picking her up and cuddling her till she was calm. I then navigated my way home one-handed, clutching on to her as tight as I could.
Now she helps me to clean the pram.
When the youngest inherited the pram, I was more of an expert in how to drive it. I could navigate the Undergound, Bristol’s cobbles, the stairs up to the library with ease. I remember, in the middle of the night as my youngest screamed the house down, and the household started to stir, I put her in the pram and pushed and pulled it back and forth till she fell asleep. She woke every time I stopped. So between 2am and 4am I stood, watching a Netflix show on my headphones, the laptop balanced precariously on the pram’s handles as I rocked her for two hours. It was the best night’s sleep she had. All that comes to an end as I prep it for the charity shop.
“Why are you giving it to someone else?” my eldest asks. “Because prams cost a lot of money. The charity shop will sell it for not much money to people who cannot afford an expensive one,” I tell her.
“That’s kind,” my daughter says, as I head to the door, a tear in my eye, ready to say goodbye to a big chapter in my life. “It’s good to be kind, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” I tell her. “It’s one of the only things we have.”
“You’re kind, daddy,” she says. “I’m kinder.”
I wipe another tear away and think about kindness, and goodbyes. I open the door and step out on to the street. The first time I did this, with the pram, everything felt new and strange and insurmountable. Today, as my daughter walks with me to the charity shop, everything feels stronger. It’s time to say goodbye.
And one goodbye begets another. So, I will take this opportunity to say goodbye to all of you readers. This is my last column. I’ve enjoyed writing for you. I hope you’ve got something out of it, unless it was an opportunity to harass me on the internet. The rest of you, thank you. Remember what my eldest daughter said. It’s good to be kind, isn’t it?
So goodbye, and thank you to every single one of you. Except Nigel Farage. You can get in the bin, mate.