First I must explain what a dingle is. In our home we live on the top of a little slope and at the bottom of the slope is a small body of water that my husband refers to as “the dingle”. This is a term that he learned from his family and I have no idea if its an appropriate term. But because calling ANYTHING a name like “dingle” gives me such joy that is what we have called it for the last seventeen years. So for the sake of my story a dingle is a small body of water that stretches from one side of the street to the other and there is a nice drainage tunnel under the road for the dingle to stream through.
My children were clever little kids and they truly enjoyed being outside. They are at the age that they are able to play outside in our safe neighborhood (we live right at the circle in the cul-de-sac so we are at the dead end of the street) by themselves. I kept the windows opened so that I can hear them. (I know many of my stories sound like I wasn’t ever with my kids….I was always with my kids. There was so much to do around my house that it was in these moments of me trying to get shit accomplished when my kids did things that gave me my best stories and my most gray hair) Let me set the scene for you. The neighborhood kids all collect at my place to play. We live at the circle and they can play in the street easily and comfortably. They are all outside and my youngest is about four or five which makes her brother eight or nine and my oldest daughter was ten or eleven. They are in the garage and playing well. I hear them talk about bikes and I smile because I hear them say “Make sure the little one has her helmet and we better give her the knee pads and elbow pads too.”
‘It is nice that they care so much for her safety’ I think. ‘They really are the best kids. They take such good care for their little sister.’ They are all out in the driveway and I peek out the window as I wash them (the windows) and I am so pleased with all of the kids playing so well together. I now head to the back of the house to wash those windows. I can hear them all talking and enjoying themselves. They are cooperating and everyone is participating. What a terrific sound. I am now going to the upstairs and I wash the back of the house windows first. I am not really hearing the details of what is going on but it is still, so far, happy noises. I get back to the front windows upstairs and when I draw the shades up I see the cluster fuck of all contraptions outside of my house.
I will explain it to you as I see it. I first see my youngest daughter who is four or five, sitting in the wagon with full gear on. She has her bright blue bike helmet with the fish on it, she has elbow pads (and presumably knee pads because they were saying it) on, she has a pillow and she is all smiles. I see bikes of various sizes and shapes and wheels…yes there is one tricycle and one bike with training wheels, a ten speed that is too big for the rider because it is my husband’s and I see skateboards…the skate boarders are holding onto the jump-ropes that were tied together to create this “wagon train from hell”.
Yes the bikes, the wagon, the tricycle, the child that is too small on the man’s ten speed all fucking tied together with jump ropes that I am pretty certain includes a fucking hula-hoop and a chinese jump rope for good measure. I see the precious four or five year old being dragged by this conglomerate of bad ideas and poor choices…What these child geniuses don’t understand is they have no grasp of physics. They don’t see the horrifying cataclysmic accident that their mother can see quite clearly from her perch upstairs. Just as I think it, this happens…that wagon is too heavy and is going to move faster than the bikes. The wagon heads down the slope and I can see it and I can’t stop it. My brain is frozen in fear and all I can do is stand there to process the information but it also is moving too fast. The bikes get turned around and the skateboarders who, and I am only assuming because I never ever did ask, are the anchors in this death trap were now being pulled alongside the wagon. I see some children spill off of their vessel of doom and yet my little one is in her wagon and her brother and sister hold onto their portions of this contraption because they were either going to save her or die with her. Because if mom catches them after they inadvertently killed their baby sister they are sure to have some consequences. I hope they were trying to save her, I really do. I now see that this is a moment when I have feeling in my legs and I start running out to the dramatic events at hand.
When I get outside I see kids all standing in awe as this buggy of terror is heading straight for the dingle. They are not talking, or moving or even breathing, for that matter. They are just standing there appreciating the horror of the moment. Here it is…the heavy fisher price wagon that is green with the yellow trim is speeding down the hill with a little rider inside with her blue helmet with bobbing along with the erratic swaying of the velocity of the cart that is carrying her to her end. There is one red tricycle with my son, the tricycle is facing uphill and moving downhill being dragged by the wagon which is wrapped in jump ropes and one hula hoop, he is wearing his new helmet that is blue and it is a skateboard helmet that covers his entire head. He is facing toward his oldest sister who is on her bike that is silver with butterflies on it. She is also moving downhill but her bike is facing uphill. She is pedaling to prevent the entire thing from crashing and yet there is too much weight forcing her backward. There are skateboards in the middle of the road that had stopped because these two let go first. There is a bike with training wheels being dragged and there is a man’s ten speed also being dragged with its rider still on. This fucking rollercoaster test model is running loose and not one person can stop it. It is a runaway train and it has my favorite people on it.
I start running toward them and I tell them all to “JUMP! GET OUT! GUYS JUMP!”
They all just look at me with confusion and fear. The wagon is the first to go down into the dingle and the rest are just being dragged behind. The child on the man’s ten speed lets go and he is saved. My three children were all “Thelma and Louise” and they all take the plunge together. As I approach them I hear the excitement in their voices. You know that moment when you hear high pitch noises and you don’t know if it is a wailing cry or a roar of laughter?
That is what I hear and I race over to the dingle and there are my three children laughing and squealing with great pleasure. I look at my little cherub in her wagon and she exclaims “Wheeeee! That was fun!”
FUN! FUN? SHE FUCKING THINKS IT WAS FUN! IN FACT NOW THAT THEY HAVE ALL SURVIVED THEY ARE ALL LAUGHING, INCLUDING THE ONES THAT HAD BAILED. THEY ARE ALL IMPRESSED WITH THEIR CONTRAPTION AND THE FEAR AND THE FACT THAT THEIR POOR MOTHER PRACTICALLY HAD A HEART ATTACK! THEY THOUGHT IT WAS FUN!
I reach them and I say “YOU three gather your things,” I turn to the neighborhood kids who think they are off the hook, “You, where do you think you are going? Oh no! You all are going to gather the bikes, the skateboards, the jump ropes, the wagon and whatever else you used and you are ALL going to put it back. When you are finished with that we are going to clean up the garage and make sure that everything goes in its spot.” The kids all hung their heads and I could tell that they were upset that they were being scolded but at the same time they were secretly pleased with themselves for surviving their own stupidity.
Yup! This happened and I lived through it and luckily so did my kids and so did the neighbor kids. In fact many of them are in college or even college graduates. They had ingenuity and they were brave. My kids love this story and they love telling their friends and every time they do they laugh because they survived. There version is slightly different than mine because it is their story from their point of view. That is how memories are…they belong to the one remembering it. It is their version of their story that you may have been a part of.
Moral of my story: It’s ok to allow your kids to invent and to play alone. The dingle usually was about two feet of water at the most and I know that kids can drown in less than that. That is why I am still thankful for a good outcome to this little experiment of theirs. There was some risk to this particular invention and luckily they had learned from it and to my knowledge never even thought about it again. Although they did tell me that they were hoping to perfect their design. Also they always intended to land in the dingle so to them the mission was a success. Another moral of the story when your kids are inventing and playing alone, just keep checking up on them. I could have stopped them before they launched this rocket. But it happened as it was supposed to and lucky for me they had angels with them on that day.
Also I would like to point out that my older kids did in fact think of their sister’s safety….it just wasn’t as safe as I had hoped.