I was in my local cafe yesterday morning, quaffing a quick cuppa and watching the antics of the extended family occupying the al fresco area. Grandpa was having a ball as the dynamic duo of Lilliputian princesses climbed all over him. Grandma had a very young one all snuggled up in her lap, and mummy was gently rocking the perambulator back and forth in a vain attempt at coaxing the tiniest one of all back to sleep. It was a privilege to observe such a happy family unit, but as I paid for my cappuccino all hell broke loose.
The first thing I heard was mummy’s scream. It was loud, plaintive and came straight for the deepest part of her soul. No horror movie has ever captured such a sound of wretched terror and the only noise to compete with it was the elderly banshee with the baby in her lap. My head swivelled sideways faster than a barn owl just in time to see a yellow angel, with pink ribbons adorning curly brown pigtails, race across the road after her Grandfather, who had taken her older sister to the park on the other side.
For a moment it appeared that time had actually stopped and was trying to reboot in a slow, deliberate process.
A tiny frightened girl stopped in the middle of the street and burst into tears, unsure whether to turn back or keep going, and afraid that she was going to get into enormous trouble.
A seated Grandmother threw her arms out, desperately hoping that her reach would magically extend to ensnare her grandchild.
A mother’s shoes refused to grip the ground as she tried to leap the many metres that separated her from her child.
And, with three mighty steps, a Grandfather found the strength of youth when he bounded into the road and scooped up the crying little one.
The whole experience occurred in mere moments, but as the adrenalin began to wear off it caused me to reflect on a similar circumstance that happened many years before. Our third son Granny, who was always pushing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour and is single-handedly responsible for the majority of my grey hairs 🙂 decided one day that it would be fun to run out on the road and see how far he could get before mum or dad caught him. The street he chose though was not as quiet as the one yesterday and I can still see the look of panic on the occupant’s faces as their cars swerved to miss him.
Granny is fine of course, and has just graduated from high school. But I learned that day that the price of parenthood includes vigilance. Kids are predictably unpredictable and that can place them in all sorts of predicaments – both good and bad.
So, as thousands of our little monsters hit the streets hunting for Halloween treats, please do iDad a favour and hold onto their hands.