Damn Their Hides

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“Listen up. These are the rules,” I told my kids when we arrived at the park today.

We were walking to the gated entrance and I thought I’d explain the sort of behavior I was expecting while we were there. Now I’m the SAHD on Thursdays, this sort of inspirational pep talk is starting to come naturally.

Going forward I suspect there may be a book and talk shows in the offing.

I decided to start with something they might consider important, just so it looked like we were all on the same page.

“Number one – have fun. Number two – do what I tell you. Number three – don’t leave the park.”

Then, just as we reached the gate, I remembered about Miss10 breaking her leg on one of the activities.

“No…wait,” I said, mentally prioritizing the rules into a new order. “Number one – absolutely no breaking any bones. Then number two – have fun…umm, number three…it was something about listening, I think…”

Which was ironic because the kids had stopped listening by this point and run off.

“You’ll watch them?” Tracey had asked me just before we left. Well, it was phrased as a question but, make no mistake, it was a demand. “I mean really watch them?”

The idea of me and the kids heading off for a couple of hours was to give Tracey time to focus on her work.

“Of course,” I said, as though I had really good form at this.

Tracey held out her hand.

“Give me your phone,” she said.

Somewhat reluctantly, I handed it over.

“No. What if I need to call you?” she said, handing it back.

“Or if I need to call an ambulance,” I added, shoving it back into my pocket with no small amount of satisfaction.

I could see by the expression on Tracey’s face I’d made a bit of a mistake with that comment.

“Not for our kids,” I assured her. “For other poorly supervised children.”

I set myself up at a sheltered table and set about keeping my kids safe. Well, safe-ish. Every couple of minutes or so I’d look up from my phone and do a headcount.

“One. Two. Three. Four. Five.”

The first few went really well, with me filling up all the fingers and a thumb on one hand in no time at all.

And then…

“One. Two. Three…three….threeeee…shit.”

Miss2 and Miss4 were missing.

“Have you seen your little sisters?” I asked Miss10 after I’d done a complete circuit of the park.

“No,” she said. “I’ve been looking for them too.”

Oh, bugger, I thought. Even Miss10 noticed they were missing before I did. That’s not going to look good in the custody battle. Meanwhile, I was getting ready to rattle off that scene in The Fugitive where Tommy Lee Jones says we need to search every warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse.

“If you noticed they were missing, why didn’t you come and get me?” I asked my daughter, figuring she could take some of the heat.

Miss10 frowned at me as I raced past her for my second frantic lap of the park.

“I didn’t know you were playing,” Miss10 called after me.

I took another five steps or so, froze, and then spun back around to where Miss10 was still standing.

“What do you mean playing?”

Looks like I have the first chapter of my book. Rule number one – no hide and seek at the park.

This thing is gonna write itself.


 Miss2 had a great spot. Damn her hide.


“Raising a family on little more than laughs”

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