It happened a few years ago. A split second decision – not something I’m particularly good at anyway, but with my friend’s little girl desperately needing a wee and Molly and Eddy not wanting to move from the jetty where they were enjoying fishing, common sense temporarily took a back seat and I made a mistake.
‘You stay here while I take her to the loo.’ I said to Molly and Eddy, ‘But just make sure you don’t move away from here, okay?’
There was a queue at the toilets, of course there was. I started to inwardly panic, of course I did. What if we got back and Molly or Eddy had fallen into the water? What if one of them had slipped and hit their head? The water was shallow but it only takes a few inches doesn’t it? What was I thinking leaving them there on their own? Why hadn’t I just dragged them along with me? They’d have forgiven me eventually.
The queue shuffled forward at a snail’s pace, I quietly huffed and puffed, repeatedly raising my eyes to the ceiling, and at last we were done. I coaxed her along with a calm urgency reserved for small children when you don’t want to frighten them but need to do something quickly, and after what seemed like an eternity, we arrived back at the jetty.
Where two bright fishing nets were laid out on the wooden slats.
And Molly and Eddy were nowhere to be seen.
You know that calm urgency I just mentioned?
I raced back to my friend who was dozing with her other little girl, my shouts of panic jolting them both back into the land of the living. I practically shoved her little girl into her and off I ran again to find my kids – back up to the jetty, looking but not seeing, shouting but not hearing.
It felt like hours dragged by before a lady approached me near to the toilets where it had all begun – Molly was holding one of her hands, Eddy the other. Molly was crying. They’d become worried that we’d been gone a long time and had come to find us, by which time we were on our way back to them, coming out from the other side of the building. We’d probably missed each other by seconds. I hugged my kids and thanked the woman who’d kindly looked after them. My shame seeped from every pore – I was the world’s worst parent.
For a long time afterwards Molly and Eddy stuck to me like glue whenever we went out. If one of us needed the loo we went in a pack, with Eddy coming into the Ladies’ with me and Molly if Pud wasn’t around to take him. Even now, if Molly’s finished before me in a public loo, she’ll shout to me that she’s going to wait outside.
Pud thinks I’m being daft and over-cautious….but I’m more than happy to take it on the chin after what I put us through that afternoon.
NB: I was struggling for inspiration today so thought I’d have a crack at the WordPress Daily Post one-word prompt exercise – the word being Mistake