Well, today I was going to write about our rockpooling session, the 10 cygnets on the swan pond, the 6 year old on the monkey bars in the play park, the 9 year old and his dad playing football like Brazil on Port Carrick beach, and the lovely sunny day.
We decided that we’d have a bonfire on the beach. The sun was out, and it was still warm, still and bright.
‘I’ll build the bonfire, if you two get gather some driftwood,’ I instructed, sending them off down the beach.
I set about collecting some flat stones, arranging them in a small circle and building them up like a little dry stone wall. In the middle, I scrumpled up some newspaper and placed some skinny little sticks on top. All I needed now were some bigger pieces of wood. I looked down the beach, expecting to see the kids, arms full of sticks, traipsing back along the shore. No sign.
‘Where the bloody hell are they?’ I thought, setting off to find them, following their little tracks. They’d completely disappeared.
I wandered along to the point where you can see onto the next beach, and was relieved to see a red and yellow dot in the distance – the 9 year old. Trailing behind him was a pale yellow dot with red rubber shoes – the 6 year old. They were miles away.
I yelled and whistled and gestured madly for them to come back at once. I had my furious, shouty shirt face on – not that they could see, but they obviously felt it because they both turned around and started trudging back. I glared at them for a while, and then, happy that they were on their way home, I muttered all the way back to the bonfire.
After 15 minutes, there was still no sign of them. Surely to God they’d have made it back onto our beach by now? I waited another few minutes until finally a 9 year old boy appeared, holding a red rubber shoe and looking slightly distressed.
‘Oh God,’ I thought. ‘Where is she? What’s happened to her?’
The 9 year old walked towards me, close to tears, saying ‘sorry mum’, over and over again.
‘She’s been captured by Somali pirates,’ I thought, ’or swept out to sea by a tsunami.’
I was about to shriek at the 9 year old when suddenly I caught sight of a little girl clutching the other red shoe, covered from head to toe in seaweed. She was wailing.
‘What the hell happened?!’ I yelled.
‘Sorry mum,’ said the 9 year old, still on the verge of tears. ‘We got stuck in sinking seaweed...’
The 6 year old wailed her way towards me. Seaweed was clagged and hanging from every part of her body. She looked like a mini sea monster, and she stank – absolutely STANK of sewers.
They had tried to take a short cut back and had walked through a huge pile of rotting seaweed. The 6 year old had lost both her shoes and had sunk and squelched up to her waist in the stinking heap. Her brother gallantly went to her rescue, recovered her shoes, and was totally traumatised by the whole event.
‘Next time I ask you to get some sticks,’ I said calmly, hoying them both in the shower, ‘just get some bloody sticks, will you?’
The neighbours, meanwhile, smiled politely, quietly closed their door and stayed inside for the rest of the evening.