The Wadhams: Disturbance Of The Peace

Shutterstock / Kate Shannon © Sandcastles Illustration: Shutterstock

We’re delighted to bring you the continuing adventures of Life & The Wadhams, featuring the younger members of the family. Not yet met the Wadhams? Read the background on My Weekly’s best-loved family, then come back and enjoy the next generation’s adventures as Mike and Polly Wadham’s elder grandson, Alex Clark, settles into a new life with wife Natalie and toddler son William in the flat above the antique shop his grandfather used to own. They’ve now bought the flat and shop, converting it to a hairdressing and beauty salon run by Natalie.

It was 9.30pm before Natalie pulled the shutters down on the windows of Pretty Polly’s and turned to survey the salon.

“That went brilliantly,” her assistant Iris said as she collected up sticky champagne flutes and discarded chocolate wrappers.

“I can’t believe it’s a year since we opened – nor how well we’ve done,” Natalie agreed. “I could fill the diary twice over. I just hope it continues – things are starting to bite financially for so many people.”

“Oh, everyone will always want their hair and nails done,” Iris reassured her. “I did hear on the radio this morning that it’s the little luxuries that keep us going when times are tough. And just think how many regular clients we have with repeat bookings. That won’t change.”

Natalie nodded. “Most of them were here tonight – and they all seemed to enjoy the sample beauty treatments. I’ve got half a dozen extra bookings for massages – I’ll have to do overtime when I get back from holiday.”

Iris laughed. “Don’t even think about that yet. Just go and have a brilliant time. The salon is in safe hands with me, you know.”

Natalie did know. Every day she thanked her lucky stars she had taken on the bubbly young girl who’d been a late applicant for the job. She was a super hairdresser, not just technically but in the things that really mattered, like listening to and empathising with the clients, and she was super loyal to her young boss.

“Right,” she said. “Leave the rest to me now, and go and get some rest. You’ll need it for next week.”

“No.” Iris firmly took the keys from her. “You go and finish your packing. You’ve got an early start tomorrow. Have a great time in Spain – I can’t wait to hear all about it when you get back.”

Get back? Natalie was wondering if they would ever get away as she crammed down the lids of their outsize suitcases the following morning.

She and Alex had travelled light around eastern Asia in the days before they married, but with little William she’d needed to pack their cases to capacity.

“You can buy disposable nappies in Spain, you know,” Alex pointed out.

“But probably not these biodegradable ones in the resort areas,” Natalie had replied. “Amanda would never forgive me if I sacrificed my green principles. She thinks it’s bad enough we’re getting on a plane at all. She’s persuaded Seb and Paul to go camping in Cornwall this summer.”

Alex laughed. His teenage brother Matty’s fiery friend Amanda was passionate about saving the planet – she kept her two dads firmly on their toes when it came to environmental issues.

“Well, I don’t care! A week in the sun is what we need, isn’t it, William?” He turned to their little son.

“No.” William said firmly.

Natalie rolled her eyes. “Here we go again. Do you think he’ll ever remember any of the other words he’s learned?”

“Yes!” Alex lifted his son above his head, prompting giggles even as the toddler yelled “No, Daddy! No!”

“He’s just entering the terrible twos phase. Mum says Ruby was exactly the same. Actually, she hasn’t really grown out of it yet…” Alex’s very much younger sister was four now, and tried to rule the roost over the Wadham and Clark clans, though only William was in the habit of giving in to her. But that had changed recently.

“She had a stand-up fight with William yesterday because he wouldn’t share his push-along trike with her.”

“He won’t share any of his toys with anyone.” Natalie sighed. “And every day at nursery he has a tantrum because some other kid is playing with something he wants. I don’t know how he’s going to be with Kayla on this holiday.”

“Oh don’t worry.” Alex gave her a reassuring hug. “Kayla’s an easy-going kid, and Robbie and Keisha are great friends. Between us all, we’ll keep him in line.”

But by the time the two young families landed at Malaga airport, Alex’s optimism had been sorely tested.

A child who usually refused to get in his buggy, William refused to get out of it when it came to airport security, and had to be manhandled, screaming, through the gate by his red-faced father.

Meanwhile two-year-old Kayla skipped through, holding on to Robbie’s hand and charming all the security staff around her with her beaming smile.

Once on the plane, Keisha had produced new Paw Patrol toys to keep the little ones occupied during take-off.  Despite Rocky being his favourite, William had decided he wanted Skye, and wriggled, squirmed and screamed in his seat until Keisha turned round and offered to swap.

“Kayla doesn’t mind which one she has really,” she said cheerfully.

Alex and Natalie accepted reluctantly. Their son could not be allowed to get his own way all the time, but already the other passengers on the plane were starting to murmur and tut at the thought of being cooped up for a couple of hours with their screaming dervish of a boy.

He was quiet for all of five minutes, before deciding he did want Rocky after all. But now Kayla did not want to let him go.

By the time the flight attendant came round with the drinks trolley, Alex and Natalie were tempted to order double gins.

Once off the plane, he quietened down a little, mesmerised by all the new experiences travelling brings, not least the feeling of warm sunshine on his skin as he finally settled for a nap in Natalie’s arms.

But it was the calm before the storm!

If William could have learned one word in Spanish, it would have been “no”.

Asked if he wanted an ice-cream, his answer was no, even as his pudgy little hand reached out to accept it. Did he want to make sandcastles? No, even as he patted his spade on the upturned bucket. Would he like to go down the watersilde? No, no, no – even as he screamed in delight on his father’s lap as they circled the bends of the small yellow flume.

As for what he really didn’t want to do – well, the answer was que va. There was no way he was having his bath. No way he was wearing his armbands. No way he was eating anything other than chicken nuggets.

And no way was he sharing his toys. Even when he wasn’t using them, his beach ball, bucket and spade all stayed firmly within reach of his greedy grasp, his piercing screech a warning off to Kayla or any other child who tried to play with them.

Natalie knew she shouldn’t make comparisons, but as she looked at Kayla, playing, eating and napping without fuss, she couldn’t help but be envious of her friend’s perfectly behaved daughter.

“I hope your next one’s a horror,” she whispered on the balcony one evening as the four friends enjoyed a beer together, their offspring safely asleep in the room behind them.

Keisha laughed easily. “My mum says that, too. Apparently I didn’t get what I deserved.”

“No sign yet?” Natalie knew Keisha would have told her any good news, but she couldn’t help asking.

“Not yet – but we’re having fun trying.” Keisha winked at Robbie who blushed red through his sunburn.

Despite William’s tantrums, the holiday was fun. The two little families spent hours by the pool and beach, ate together every night and relaxed on one or other of their balconies each evening once the children were asleep in whichever bedroom was behind them.

“Last day today.” Alex handed Natalie a welcome mocktail, and flopped down beside her on the sunbed. “You have a proper rest and I’ll look after William in the pool for a while.”

Already in the pool with Robbie and Keisha, William and Kayla were having great fun on the inflatables their parents had bought for them at the beginning of the holiday.

Alex sent Keisha back to her sunbed and took over control of his small son’s playtime, steering him around the many inflatables in the pool, playing dodgems with the other children, and ducking to avoid the tremendous amount of splashing that was going on.

Lulled by the sun, Natalie was almost asleep on her sunbed when a tremendous screaming from the pool made her jump up, her heart racing.

Oh thank goodness! It wasn’t William disturbing the peace for once, but another little boy. It looked like his inflatable had burst – the neon-coloured turtle was a shell of its former self.

As the little boy’s father popped him on the side, sobbing and crying, William looked over at him in concern and then began propelling his way towards him through the water, Alex firmly in pursuit.

“No,” he said when he reached the little boy. “No cry.”

Gently he reached out his hand and patted the inside of the inflatable dinosaur he was sitting in.

There wasn’t really room for two. They were in danger of capsizing.

But as Natalie watched her husband push and pull the laughing pair around the pool, she breathed a heartfelt sigh of relief.

William might be a holy terror but his heart was in the right place.

Something she’d have to keep reminding herself of on the long journey home …

Join us next month for more adventures with the Wadhams clan and wedding belles for Alex’s uncle Drew

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