KIERAN HOWARD: The lure of the mud was too strong for well-dressed Louie

Mud really is a parent's arch nemesis, as I discovered to my cost on a trip to Staunton Country Park.

Tuesday, 2nd January 2018, 1:20 pm

We all know kids love nothing more than smearing it all over their hands or attempting to camouflage their faces in it.

Unfortunately, the brown stuff has fast become my worst nightmare.

We’re at war and it’s a battle I’m losing, I’m embarrassed to say.

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I admit I naively assumed our farm experience would be a relatively hassle-free affair.

It was a couple of weeks before Christmas and we thought Louie would get to pat some sheep, feed some goats, perhaps, and meet Santa.

I appreciate it’s not the first time I’ve described my naivety in this column.

If I’m honest though, I didn’t foresee any sizeable setbacks in our visit to the farm, in Leigh Park, other than Louie being a little miserable due to an unavoidable missed nap.

Never come between a two-year-old and their sleep.

You’ll ultimately pay for it.

On this occasion though, his afternoon snooze was skipped in order for us to make our 1pm booking.

The intention of our trip was for Louie to simply meet a few animals, do some arts and crafts and ride a donkey.

And we wanted to visit Santa too.

You’re probably thinking that all sounds fairly straightforward and rather innocuous.

And, yes, it really should have been.

As we drove towards our destination, I felt quite relaxed, anticipating a leisurely hour or two in the bracing fresh air.

That hopeful expectation, however, was dashed before we’d even begun our trail around the farm.

It was as we, along with many other families, awaited the elf who was to take us on our magical tour.

Louie, without any courteous warning, decided he needed to ignore the many chairs on offer to him.

Instead, he suddenly chose to plonk his bum in the mud like he was taking a seat at the theatre.

He then proudly sat there as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

Dressed in new and not inexpensive Christmas togs, his trousers and coat wrongly suggested he’d had a toilet-related accident of apocalyptic proportions.

Other parents watched on in sheer relief that it wasn’t their child who’d done the unthinkable.

Wet wipes didn’t come close to sorting this mess out.

We carried on regardless though. And I could see Santa was only too pleased that Louie had no desire to sit on his lap.

Suffice to say, sales in Vanish went up sharply following the incident.

WHAT HAVE WE LET OURSELVES IN FOR?

A very happy new year to you all.

I hope the next 12 months bring you success, happiness and, if you have a toddler, at least one tantrum-free trip to Asda.

I also hope you saw in 2018 in a slightly more adventurous way than me.

Even if you were in your car on the M27 when the clock struck midnight, it would still have been a more exciting experience than mine.

I welcomed it in as I do every new year, with Kerrie asleep in the bed next to me, the dogs snoring at the foot of the bed and Louie in his room snoozing in his cot.

It’s not a particularly rock and roll way to celebrate, but it’s what I’ve become accustomed to. Old before our time, I think it’s called.

It’s going to be a busy year ahead for the Howards. Our new arrival will make an appearance in six months. Louie doesn’t know what’s about to hit him.

He points to Kerrie’s tummy and says ‘baby’, but I’m convinced he’s not quite grasped the fact there’s another being in there. He probably thinks we’re playing the longest-running joke in history on him. He’ll know soon enough that we’re not.

By the end of 2018 our family will comprise two children, two dogs and two adults doing their best to look after four dependents.

As a colleague of mine best summed up, we’re gluttons for punishment.