In retrospect I am not sure why I thought it was a good idea. What sane person goes clothes shopping only days after the festive period has finished, when mince pies hang heavy on the hips and mulled wine lingers lusciously on the bosom.
But yet I went, like a naive solider into battle, I hit the high street to scour the sales, in search of some fine looking togs to trend myself up in.
And I took a three year old with me…
That was mistake number two.
The street was full of bargain hunting shoppers and I pushed through the buggy, using it as a tool in my Armour, collecting arms of clothes as I weaved. Satisfied with my haul, I headed to that place every plus side lady despises; the women’s changing room, and was shown to a cubicle. Then I started to strip.
And the three year old joined in.
As I shed a layer she followed suit and before I had even realised, she was as bare as the day she was born, and trying to pull on a pair of Phrase Eight jeans.
I rolled my eyes and quietly, remembering only a heavy velvet curtain separated us from normal people, tried to convince her to redress. With a humph and a frown she slowly began reluctantly adding a sock to her person and, happier, I began to try on some clothes.
Then it happened…
The first dress was shocking – I looked like an elephant without a trunk, the second shirt was passable but pricey and the third top was, well, it was simply a gift from hell.
I pulled over the innocent looking patterned shirt and poured my arms through the sleeves above my head.
Then my breath caught in throat as I realised the shirt was snug, really bloody snug. As my arms battled to free themselves from fabric I realised I was stuck like a fat Santa in a chimney. My old fear, claustrophobia, started flooding through my body and I began to pant like an excited puppy whilst frantically wiggling my arms above my head.
The three year old was oblivious to my anguish and chose this moment as an opportune time to fire questions at me in a style the Spanish Inquisition would hanker after…
Mummy, why did the lady give us a key?
Mummy, what number are we in?
Mummy, what is Aurora’s prince called?
Mummy, can I have a pirate party for my birthday?
Inside my own private sauna I began to sweat, the sheer fabric clung to the fresh water and my tight space became tinier.
“Fwueck” I mumbled with a piece of cotton in my mouth, my ‘motherly’ radar being happy that the sweat coated top had clung to my dry lips making it impossible for me to articulate my swear words, thus protecting the three year olds’ innocent ears.
The changing room felt like it was getting smaller, I had been trapped at least five minutes, my arms were tiring, my head pounding, my dramatic terror rising and my three year old relentless.
Mummy, where are Molly and Owen?
Mummy, can we have lunch?
Mummy, erm, Mummy, why are you dancing?
And with that she stopped, and through the pink material I squinted and saw my naked three year old with one sock on walking curiously towards me. The air was starting to leave the top and I could feel the world slipping away from me, my mouth was so parched that I could no longer speak and I tried to convey my last wishes to a bare assed child who had no idea what on earth was going on.
My arms were giving up, and I started to splutter through the shirt my dying gasps of air. I wondered how the papers would report my death – would they mention my dress size? Would they clothe the child before taking her home, half orphaned.
Suddenly, my daughter exclaimed,
Oh Mummy, you are stuwuck….. I th’seee.
Perhaps there was hope, the newspaper headline may indeed read ‘Small Child frees (size 8) parent in shirt from hell horror story’. I squinted once more at my child to see how she would rescue me. Would she tear at the shirt, knock me to the floor and pull it over my head, would she stand on a chair and help me inch it back over by now sweaty, wet, traumatised hair?
I’ll help she cried with passion and she ran towards me….
Then past me….
Then to the curtain….
Then she wrenched it open and screamed to the store,
Help my mummy puhlease, she is stuwuck
The entire of John Lewis turned to see me half naked, arms flailing, belly wobbling, caught in sheer pink cotton shirt with a naked three year old with one sock on beside me.
Sadly, I survived to tell the tale, luckily, the papers don’t seem to have wind of it.