It was one of those mornings where you lose two hours trying to leave the house.
I learned a long time ago that the solution to this is to throw the kids in the car and go. Instead, I bumbled around the house for about 90 minutes.
I was meeting a friend at the new tidal steps and pier in Tauranga, to let our 4- and 2-year-olds ride their bikes on what was (weather-wise, at least) a glorious autumn day.
When I arrived (late) at the playground, my son, 2, took off.
The only thing I have done well as a parent is teaching them not to drop their rubbish. My little tidy Kiwi took our rubbish to a bin further away than expected, where he noticed a squirty fountain play area, which is the main reason I usually don't come to this spot when it is two-against-one.
He started taking his clothes off. I had forgotten togs. He ran into the fountain grabbing his new favourite toy, his penis. Every chance he has had for the past couple of weeks has involved some new trick from Puppetry of the Penis. I at least managed to convince my daughter to keep her underpants on.
As they ran in, other children joined in, also in their underpants. When there is one feral mum (that mum is always me) other people can let loose too.
After they were dry, I convinced my daughter (naked by now because the undies were "too cold") to put her pants on so everyone could stop seeing her . . . breakfast . . . as she climbed the rope fort playground, but I had to go back about 20m to get them. Which was when my son noticed the new steps that go into the sea. He took off and was heading into the water when my daughter ran into a daycare friend and took off on her bike. I can trust her a little bit, so I continued towards the greatest danger, which was the sea and my son.
I tried to encourage him out, but he noticed how slippery the steps were and began doing deliberate skids along them. Days earlier he'd had his leg x-rayed for a suspected break. I guess that's okay after all then.
Eventually, I managed to get him up to where my daughter was, where an old lady* was helping her turn her handlebars around.
"I'm going to give you some advice," she said to me.
Of COURSE you are, this day just keeps getting better!
"It might be better if she has some underpants on because you never know who is about."
It WOULD, wouldn't it?! I couldn't agree more! I wanted to invite her to our house to see how she went trying to make our kids do ANYTHING but I was worried I might stab her in the eyeballs.
It would also be nice if my son hadn't been REALLY hard work all morning and if I hadn't tried taking my kids to the park for some fresh air and sunshine - and if they hadn't run off in two different directions when I made the mistake of doing so.
I had been keeping watch for potential paedophiles until my son wanted to drown.
Then my girl tripped over and skinned her leg and while I dealt with that, my still-naked little opportunist took off down the steps, stood in the sea water up to his knees, held his penis with both hands and weed in front of everyone.
Time to go home.
On the way back to the car, my 16kg son refused to ride his bike, then refused to walk. I made it to the centre of a pedestrian crossing where thankfully, there was a small island to leave his bike as I went back to collect his screaming sister whose bike pedal scratched a foot she had been asked about 60 times to put shoes on.
I waved the traffic through. Don't wait for us, you'll be here forever, bring me back some food!**
* Because I have some passionate views about Nice Old Lady Who Meant Well But I Wanted To Slap Her, she will feature in an upcoming opinion piece in the next couple of weeks.
** Because I'm a sucker for punishment, I tried to do this Day From Hell - Part 2 to make things right later that night, but things only got worse. Part 2 runs next week.