In all honesty, this week's column is more about me than it is about Ruby. Although what I am about to tell you is ALL HER FAULT.
To explain, I decided yesterday morning that, after dropping the girls off to nursery, I would go into central London, to Hamleys, to get some presents for Ruby's birthday. On the rare occasions I vacate this locality, and I go to places where there are expensive shops and fashionable people who wear lipstick, I do try to make a bit more of an effort with my appearance. I at least want to look normal, and indeed sane.
So, having showered, I blow-dried my hair and put on some make-up properly – not just a hint of mascara, but blusher and eyeliner and everything.
The process of getting the girls ready for nursery was as chaotic as usual. Teeth? Check. Clean faces? Check. Wees? Check. Coats? (No coats. Where are the bloody coats? Found coats!) Check. Rapunzel doll? (What?). As I was running round the house trying to find Ava's beloved Rapunzel doll, I asked Ruby to go to the cupboard to find her shoes.
She got her own boots, and Ava's. And then, rather sweetly I thought, she also passed me mine with a sweet "Here go, mummy!"
I hurriedly pulled them on before helping Ava assign the right boot to the right foot. When Ru's boots were also attached to the correct feet, we finally got it together and left the house.
As is normal these days, Ruby legged it into nursery without so much as looking back to wave goodbye and, the buggy folded and stowed, I headed for the Tube.
As I was there rather early, there seemed to be more staff in the toy shop than there were customers. I ambled about (I LOVE toy shops, especially when I visit them without the children to distract me), and the assistants smiled at me politely.
They seemed to be smiling politely at me a bit too much, I thought – but then it crossed my mind that a store like that one probably insists on staff training, whereby they are indoctrinated with the notion one must smile politely at all times.
Anyway, I probably spent about 45 minutes in there, picking things up and putting them back again (as I kept reminding myself I had a spending limit). I paid up and left, then walked back up Regent Street towards Oxford Circus.
I thought, as I was in the vicinity, I might as well look for some new winter coats for the girls (theirs are completely knackered). So I went into a department store, past 30 or so ridiculously glamorous young women, whose job it is to make customers smell more pleasant. They each smiled very politely at me.
On the way up to the children's section, I happened to notice a lovely wool dress. I tried slapping myself on the wrist for becoming distracted, but then I rubbed my wrist better and told myself I hardly EVER buy new clothes and went to try it on.
The lady at the fitting room smiled at me politely.
I went in to a cubicle – and then I saw.
One black boot.
One brown boot.
Not even a very dark brown boot. Brown as in mid brown.
I gasped and wondered how I might be able to pass this off.
Nonchalance?! Yes, I thought. What I need to do is be completely nonchalant. I shall wear the expression of a person who lives in fashionable London, a person who is a maverick, a trendsetter. A person who is making a statement.
Then another idea entered my head. MAYBE, I thought, I should put a huge dark smudge of make-up on my face, so that people stare at that and do not notice I am wearing one black boot and one brown boot.
And then I thought, no, no, no. Then you will be wearing one black boot and one brown boot, AND you will have a massive smudge on your face, and you will not look like a trendsetter, but like someone who is deranged.
Then I wondered if, in Oxford Street, there really are fashion police. Would I be arrested?!
And I think that's when I knew I'd lost the plot, that I was indeed deranged.
I bought the dress, I even went to another store to find coats for the girls, and I grinned like a mad person at everyone who smiled politely at me. And I quite enjoyed it.
Note to self
Checklist for leaving house: Coat? Keys? Children? Yogurt stains? Matching feet?
More on Parentdish: Have your style standards slipped since you became a mum?
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