Oscar ran off to play with his cousins without so much as glancing back at me. I could hear them screaming in the distance, but their voices were soon lost amongst the general din of other children laughing and shouting. Tamzin followed them over while I wheeled Jude’s buggy out of the way and then let him out to stretch his legs.
The first thing that caught his attention was, unsurprisingly, the numbers which had been painted on the floor beneath an arch which I guess was meant to do something (it had a button) but wasn’t working that afternoon. We hung around together there for a while, him laughing and gritting his teeth in complete wonderment that someone had gone to the effort of putting numbers there. Occasionally he wandered off, at one point trying to climb on the middle of the see-saw. Much to the bemusement of the little boy sitting there waiting for someone to play with him. Then he would find his way back to the numbers and the process would start all over again.
Then he saw the climbing frame.
It was a series of uneven walkways behind a metal grill. The lowest were only a few feet above the ground, the highest were about twenty-feet. It looked like a giant version of the kind of thing pet rodents would be given to play in.
Jude made his way over and I stopped him going in the first entrance because it was full of bigger children who didn’t have time to wait around for him and had no understanding of the fact that he wasn’t like them. They just pushed their way past and I didn’t want Jude getting hurt, so I moved him on.
At the second entrance, he was in before I could stop him. Climbing up the slope with surprising agility. I was terrified that he was going to topple backwards or something, so I followed him up.
Along the walkways there were holes which the children could use to go up and down the levels. Completely hidden unless you knew to look for them, and Jude did not. I could imagine him stepping into the hole, falling forwards and smashing his face on the walkway. Maybe he was aware of it, maybe he just thought the slope down was too steep to walk, but at the top he got onto his hands and knees and started going down.
I grabbed him, he tried to keep going. It got so he was lying on his front, pulling himself along the ground and the only thing I had hold of was his ankle. I was there trying to stop him falling into this hole, thinking that anyone looking at me must thought I was a terrible parent. Then all of a sudden Oscar’s kneeling beside me asking what I’m doing. I tell him, and he starts trying to help.
Then all three of us are in the climbing frame while children ran back and forth around us, probably thinking we were crazy.
Eventually I managed to get him out, without Oscar’s help. He wasn’t happy about it, but I carried him back over to the numbers and he soon got over it.