I hate it when one of my kids gets it over on me.
The kids and I were at SeaWorld today, finally making use of annual tickets we purchased nearly a year ago. As Tracey was off doing a workshop it had taken some serious convincing for her to allow me to go without her. It’s not that she doesn’t trust me with my own children, it’s that she knows how easily distracted I get.
For my part, I had a great plan. Each of the younger kids was assigned a buddy – Miss12, Master11 or myself.
And it went swimmingly well, right up until it didn’t.
“Where’s your little sister?” I asked four of my five kids. From this point much of our conversation was punctuated with exclamation marks.
I looked around for a tiny kid in a hat at the tables and eateries surrounding us. Unfortunately, there were lots of them and none of them belonged to me. I retraced my steps but couldn’t see Miss4 anywhere. Then I retraced my retraced steps, wondering if she’d gone on ahead of us. Then I retraced my retraced retraced steps and, when I still couldn’t see hide nor hair of her, decided to panic. Mainly because there was no way this was going to go unmentioned by the kids when we arrived home to their mother.
The not-lost-kids were way ahead of me in terms of panicking, and had been peppering me with ideas about where she might be.
“I’ll go back to the stingrays!” Master11. “She probably went back there.”
“She might have fallen into the water and drowned!” squealed Miss8. “Hurry! Run!”
“Stay with me,” I insisted, grabbing him by the shoulder before he sprung off.
I didn’t need to lose any more of the buggers. I figured the loss of one child can be spun as an oversight. Two makes it look like I’m deliberately trying to downsize to a sedan.
“What if she’s been kidnapped!?” Miss12 asked helpfully.
“She’s not kidnapped,” I said, peeved I was having to spend so much time answering nonsense when what I really wanted to do was go back fifteen years, convince myself to stay off the beer & cheese, and maybe jog around the block occasionally, so I could frantically run around the theme park until I found my little girl. “She’s not kidnapped, she’s lost.”
But that calmed things down about as much as a cat in an aviary.
“We need to call the police!” yelled Miss6.
“The helicopter! They can look for her from the air!” suggested Miss8.
“We don’t know where she is, Dad! I really think she’s been kidnapped.”
“Listen,” I said, “we’re going to go and report her missing and then continue to look for her.”
“But the stingray pool,” said Master11.
“We need to check the bottom of the pool quickly,” added Miss8.
Begrudgingly, the kids followed me the length of the park (“The helicopter’s right there, Dad.”) where we’d been told we could report a lost child. By this stage I was prepared to offer them the four I still had with me. Six questions and one phone call later and we knew where she was.
“What was she wearing?” the receptionist wanted to know. Lucky I’d taken a couple of photos today. This was us dry.
This was us drenched, a mere five minutes later. No wonder I was distracted – my hat got wet, dammit.
“I told you we should have checked the stingray pool,” said my smug son as we headed back to where we’d started this nightmare. She was at the guest counter there being looked after and calmed and asked questions like Are you here with your Mummy? (“No.”) Are you here with your Daddy? (“Yes.”)
As you might imagine, the kids kept this under their hats for all of…didn’t. Tracey hadn’t even made it to the car and they were all yelling an update out the windows.
What they couldn’t know is I’d already messaged Tracey to kind of pave the way.
On the drive back to our unit they gleefully explained what a poor job I’d done of it. Especially Master11.
“If Dad had listened to me in the first place…” he huffed in an unbecomingly superior manner.
But I was ready for this.
“Now tell your Mum who she was buddied with,” I called back over my shoulder. “Which of you was supposed to be looking after her?”
Like I said, I hate it when one of my kids gets it over on me – so it’s nice when I’ve got the goods on them, even if it is a rare thing.
“Oh, yeah,” he mumbled while mentally doing a little reassessment of the whole event. “Well anyway, Mum, I think the main thing is she’s okay.”
We all think that. Including Miss4. Rather pleasingly, even though I wasn’t her official ‘buddy’, she didn’t leave my side for the rest of the day. Not that Master11 noticed.
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Raising a family on little more than laughs.