Anyone who has been following from the beginning will remember my post Getting Started: Monkeys Incorporated where I wrote about the October 2015 Walk to School Week. The general gist is that walking to school is great exercise for both you and the monkeys, however it can also extremely stressful and fraught with danger.
On Thursday, myself, same friend, 5 monkeys and the hound embarked on the walk to and from school again. The usual anxieties about safety and getting there on time, exactly as before. However, as I said in my original post, be prepared to be flexible and expect the unexpected if you are doing anything where the monkeys are incorporated.
I’m missing a monkey
As we set off in good time, all was well. The hound, a new and possibly risky addition to the walking party, was behaving but encouraging a steady pace. Two monkeys strapped in pushchairs and MM on his scooter, we were very much in control. All changed after arriving at school and the addition of two more monkeys and their scooters.
Post school foot traffic obscuring the monkeys on their scooters as they zipped in and out. Stopping and checking where we were but unpredictable all the same.
The first five minutes on the road are nervy. Mummy eyes everywhere repeating the mental head count every couple of seconds. Repeated calls to slow down and wait. Once off the main road we were into a network of streets heading towards the cool, tree lined cycle track. The place where we can breath easier because no one is likely to be squished by a car.
Here the monkeys began a game of scooting a little way ahead, hiding behind a thin lamp post, that only obscures a small portion of their little bodies, then jumping out shouting boo. All fine nothing to worry about here. Until…
Just to note here, this was the first school run since MM has become proficient on his scooter. Now as fast as the others, he was determined to be a contender in the game of “I win”. (See linked post above.) His new found confidence and speed about him he took off round the corner, seconds later we were round too, expecting him to jump out from a drive way shouting “boo”. He didn’t.
I’m not normally one to panic about such things. The monkeys give me the slip all the time. Missing for two or three minutes, my logical brain always controls the situation. This day however was different. As we continued to walk the expected appearance and call of “boo” didn’t come. The stretch of road was long but you could see it’s full length. MM could not be seen. The minutes ticked by, a cold fear began to take over. Moments before we had rounded the corner I had heard a car door close and pull away. That sound began to repeat in my brain over and over, a vision of MM being plucked off the street and driven away from me accompanying the sound.
I began to call his name. First calmly, then louder and more panicked. “Where are you? Please come out”. People stood still in their gardens, frozen in time too. No one had seen him. I felt powerless.
Suddenly, from miles away, a lady called out to me. “There is a little boy here on a scooter”. I squinted into the distance. Local school children blocking my view. I wished I had had my eyes tested recently as I couldn’t see him. I began to run in that direction, grateful I had put my trainers on but wishing I had a sports bra.
Suddenly he appeared. Smiling and scooting. I was so relieved. He stopped in front of me and I went to town, shouting “what were you doing? Where were you?” Then gathering him up in my arms and hugging him as if he had been missing for months not minutes. MM sobbing not understanding his crime.
I managed to calm myself enough, still shaking, to explain why I shouted. That I was frightened because he had gone away so far that I couldn’t see him. I told him how dangerous it was and I didn’t want to lose him. Then I carried him back to the rest of the group huddled back down the street.
One mummy, a hound, two pushchairs and babies and two scooters with monkeys atop. In our absence, mummy number two said that her fears had not been assisted by the elder monkeys prophecies of MM being “run over by a big car” or “stolen and lost forever”. Like a right pair of angels of doom.
I don’t mind telling you that that night I got into bed with MM after he was asleep. I cuddled him tight and kissed his cheek, whispering “I love you, never do that to me again”. He was snoring a bit and he smelled like toothpaste, banana and mouldy old cabbage water. He is 3 (nearly 4) after all.
Then on Friday, we did it all over again. This time though, MM held my hand until we got to the cycle track…
Then he scooted away and didn’t look back…