The afternoon arrived rather sooner than I expected as I hadn't quite finished luxuriating in my lazy Saturday morning. DH, continuing in his mood of benevolence, decided to take the dogs along with Josh and his friend for a walk across the Common. How sensible, thought I! He'll wear the dogs out and the boys can run around playing frisbee, chasing each other or hunting for the newly acquired boomerang which never does seem to come back regardless of however closely we follow the instructions.
Josh had mooted the possibility that Daddy could walk the dogs whilst he and his friend played in the local storage area for spliff butt-ends, used condoms and syringes. I believe that Bournemouth Borough Council calls the area "a playground". This possibility was negated immediately by the cruel Mummy on the grounds that the apparatus in the so-called "playground" was far more suited to children much younger than Josh and his friend and, invariably, the "children" frequenting the playground were, given its catchment area, doubtless parents themselves and given to roughly shoving aside those kids who genuinely wanted to play. DH and I both agreed and voiced our opinion that a good run along the Common would be a far better prospect for two little boys with excess energy to burn off. So with those instructions clearly ringing in their ears, the intrepid walkers set off ...
I installed myself comfortably in front of the computer and settled down for an hour or so of uninterrupted twittering.
After about 20 minutes, my 'phone rang. I answered it and heard the words that no mother wants to hear. An uneasy silence then the voice of a husband trying very hard to sound calm and "matter-of-fact", asking "Is Josh at home with you?"
Well, of course he wasn't and neither was his friend.
I'm writing this well before the watershed and cannot therefore repeat the response I gave to the now not so terribly "Dear" Husband.
Keys grabbed, bag grabbed, 'phone grabbed and into the car. Poor car's suspension may never recover from several high speed launches into mid air over the "traffic calming" humps in our road. I parked at the Common and began hunting for two children. They were nowhere to be seen.
Several more increasingly fraught telephone exchanges between DH and I ensued. No-one batted an eyelid in the playground as I was using vernacular that was everyday speech to the people who frequent it.
I gave up looking in the playground and jogged the entire length of the Common peering behind bushes and trees as I huffed and puffed my way along. I saw lots of children but none of them were "mine".
By this point in time, I was already rehearsing the appeal I would make on TV that night and the cinema in my head was replaying every horrifying occurrence involving lost children that I'd ever seen.
My 'phone rang once more. My hands were trembling as I answered it. A very small voice said "Hello Mummy, I'm back at the house".
Tearful and exhausted I went back to the car and drove back home.
I did that "bad Mummy" thing of not waiting for explanations and just ushered Josh's friend into my car and took him back to his parents.
When I re-appeared at home, a Josh with a very wobbly bottom lip flung himself into my arms and told me what had happened. It seems that his friend had "really, really" wanted to stay in the playground and as he was "our guest", Josh had persuaded DH that they would not move "an inch" and would be there waiting for him on his return from walking the dogs. Josh's friend had wanted to explore "the bit behind the playground" and Josh - ever the polite and accommodating host - had "innocently" and "grudgingly" agreed. Hence, when DH arrived back at the playground, the boys were still exploring "the bit behind" and DH couldn't see them - which is when I received the first 'phone call.
Josh was grounded for the weekend. The very worst sort of grounding that only involved homework, meals and early nights - no TV and no computer AT ALL.
DH - for his complete inability to adhere to the simplest of instructions and total ineptitude at controlling two small humans who are 46 years his junior - is grounded until further notice.
Mother's Day was wonderful. After the initial relief, I suffered the nervous reaction of a full-blown migraine - so bad that I could barely read the sweet words on Josh's card.
The memory of that hour will stay with me for as long as I live. May it always and only be "just a memory".