December 4, 2014 by Dadinator
Tonight was a break up night for a local childcare organisation. Our son attends it by proxy (he goes to a Family Daycare which is auspiced by the childcare co-op. And it was a particularly chaotic kind of bedlam. About 70 kids under 4 running around the playground pictured above at the Castlemaine Botanic Gardens.
Both kids were playing well. My son’s current playground obsession is “slidey poles” – you know the type, the fire-fighter poles you see coming of playground platforms the world over. He’s not quite tall enough to reach them on his own, but with help he’s more than capable of gripping onto the pole and sliding down. Loves them.
Meanwhile The Lass was trundling about, walking everywhere because she’s a big girl now, and all the cool kids (which means her brother) do it all the time. She was cute, charming and occasionally clingy, but she was enjoying herself.
And then it happened. The Mamanator turned to me and said it. “Where’s The Lad”.
We realised quickly that neither of us could see him. Among the hubbub and among the din of dozens of children running amok our little boy had done a bunk and disappeared. It took surprisingly little time for panic to set in. I was holding on to The Lass (best not lose them both) casting my eyes about frantically, while The Mamanator ran around looking for him. She went down to the creek bed behind the playground, he wasn’t there. She circled the equipment, wasn’t there. She looked up trees. Wasn’t there. We employed extra pairs of eyes, but there was no luck.
I told her to take The Lass while I looked for him, stating (truthfully) that I was faster than she was so I could cover more ground. She accepted that, took the little girl and let me look.
I looked among the crowds, trying to spy blonde/red hair – and mistook 2 other children for my own (from a distance). I started circling the playground, intending to spiral out and look further a field. In spite of my meticulous pattern, The Lad did not show up, there was no sign of him. My pace had quickened by now, and while I had put on a brave face up to this point, I was starting to panic myself.
I started up the path which runs to the front of the garden, past the low-growing-bush-tree thing that he has played in before.
The bush in question was massive, it was like a hidden secret garden that kids could go into and play in. The foliage kept it separate and shaded from the world of adults. I remember a similarly gnarled old tree in the park near the house I grew up in. It was great. You could get lost in there…..
Hang on. I made straight for it and as I called out, The Lad showed himself. I sighed a deep sigh of relief and scooped him up on my arms. Father Christmas had arrived in the meantime and was giving all the children icy poles. I carried The Lad to see him, noticing a slight dampness on his shorts. I realised what he’d done.
He hadn’t used the magical tree-garden to play in. He’d used it to pee in. Wee On a Tree, as he’d been taught.
Still, at least he did it in private. Unlike 20 minutes later when he dropped his pants on the playground in front of a score of small children and looked around patiently.
I quickly pulled up his pants and took him to a nearby tree. Operation successful and explained that he had to go away from people to do his wee…. just like he had when he disappeared.
You know what? Teaching kids to do the right thing is hard.
And the bright side: Toilet training is clearly paying off.