For once I was all over the soccer routine. We even arrived before the game began (big improvement) and I had a chair to sit in and a travel mug of strong coffee. While Master7 changed shirts and started kicking a ball around I sat down and took a swig of Joe. And the hot coffee spilled into my lap, making it look like I got so excited at the prospect of my son losing his game I peed myself. But this wasn’t the worst the day had install for me either.
This afternoon, Tracey was taking photos for a friend, Miss17was working and Miss5 had to go to a birthday party – all at 3pm. This meant I had to go to Hungry Jacks with FIVE KIDS. But this wasn’t the worst.
The first thing I did when I arrived at Hungry Jacks was to pull out a bottle for Miss0. The second thing I did was to spill the formula powder all down my jeans and through my shoes. Not the worst bit.
Then as I was packing everything up, encouraging Miss5 to say thank you to her hosts and comfort a whingy baby, I suddenly noticed Miss2 had disappeared. And still this wasn’t the worst moment.
Seconds later I spotted her. Someone had just walked in and let her out the automatic doors: she was standing outside the building. Not the worst moment, but we’re getting close.
I was holding the baby, and between me and the door was the pram, tables, chairs and Master7 and Miss8.
“Quick!” I snapped, pointing at their little sister. Like troopers they took off. So did Miss2 – straight towards our car on the other side of the carpark. You’d think we were at the worst bit, but we’re not there yet.
In a flap I scanned the carpark. No cars were coming in or out and the kids were on their way. I didn’t panic, although I had maneuvered around the obstacles towards the door. I could see it would all be okay in a few seconds.
Then Master7 came racing back up to me. “The doors won’t open!”
But Miss8 was through the automatic doors. I later found out when they hadn’t opened for her she’d been trying to pry them open with her fingers while screaming out, “I have to get out!”
So now Miss8 was outside the building and only fifteen meters from Miss2, who was over by our car.
And for some reason Miss8 stopped. She stopped and started to yell out her little sister’s name. And for some reason her little sister left the vicinity of our car and started to walk towards the highway.
THIS was the moment my heart faltered.
“Don’t just stand there. Go!” I shouted at Miss8. Of course the trouble with someone running at a 2 year old is they tend to run away. This was the moment I saw the inevitable disaster I had no way of stopping. This was the worst bit. “Quick! Grab her.”
And she did. And it was all okay. She grabbed her and held onto her and, unusually, Miss2 stayed put until I got there.
But the questions kept ringing in my head – Where did I stuff up? How did I allow myself to lose track of her? How am I going to explain all this to Tracey?
So here I am six hours later and the whole scene keeps playing over and over in my head. If Miss2 had run instead of walked towards the highway: If a car had turned into the carpark: If someone had backed out.
It can happen to anyone, I know, but the thing is it happened to me, and I don’t want to go through that again. My ticker couldn’t take it.