Do you remember those boring days as a child, when nothing seemed able to keep you occupied? Those are the days that usually end in trouble and you count your blessings if no one gets hurt and there are no visits to the hospital’s Emergency Department.
I had those days often.
On one of those particular days, my mother was reading and doing her best to relax. She was a single mother at the time and she worked full time so relaxation was not something she was able to do often.
But as a child, you don’t understand that.
I harassed her for a while, before realizing I had no hope in gaining her attention or forcing her to play some sort of game with me. So I wandered off to make my own fun.
This was never a good thing.
I wasn’t able to reach the door handle to get outside, not even when I dragged a chair over to the door. I was securely stuck within the safe confines of the house. Or so my mother thought.
I pushed open the doggy door and tested the space. It didn’t take me long to squeeze my body through, although it did take some skill to twist and bend my body in order to manoeuvre it through the small square.
Before long I was free. I was rarely allowed to play in the back yard, because our lawn was quite long and mum was always worried about snakes lurking.
With total freedom, I began to explore the yard. There were no swing sets in our back yard, no toys or interesting things to play with. Just a bland fenced off area with a lot of weeds. I ran my hand along the fence line, checking out the perimeter.
At the far corner of the yard, I noticed the tiny gap between the two fences. I held my face to the asbestos and looked into the yard next door. They had a beautifully manicured lawn, with a few shrubs and flowers and one gigantic tree in the centre. Now there was something worthwhile.
It took a bit of effort, but eventually I managed to squeeze my body through the small gap between the fences. I raced over to the tree and began to climb. I wanted to see what our back yard looked like from the top of the neighbours’ tree.
By the time I watched my mother opening the back door, calling my name, I knew I was in a bucket load of trouble. I was unable to get myself down.
I watched, as my mum searched our back yard for me. Her calls were getting louder and I could hear the panic in her voice, but there was no way I was going to tell her where I was. I decided that I would continue to get down by myself, then I would magically appear back inside and act as though nothing had happened. An absolutely fool-proof plan.
Before I knew it, the sun was gradually disappearing and it was getting harder to see the branches of the tree.
Then I saw the flashing lights moving up and down the street.
I watched as our backyard filled with policemen. One was asking my mum questions and she was crying. I was in real big trouble now.
I considered calling out at that stage, but I didn’t want to be told off, so I remained silent. The lady next door came out to see what was going on and she started talking to my mum over the fence. The police asked her a couple of questions too, but she didn’t know anything.
Then it got dark.
I could no longer see the ground. Panic gripped me. I was going to die up here.
The police were still taking to my mum and one officer was shining a torch everywhere. Eventually the torch captured me and stopped.
“Kylie?” The officer was staring up at me. I gave him a silent nod.
There was a roar of laughter. My mum was the only one that didn’t seem amused. The police had to knock on the neighbours’ door to gain access to the tree and one of them climbed up to get me down.
Once I was back on the ground and in my own yard, my mum and the police officers were talking to me and making sure I was okay. I was amazed that I was not in any trouble. Instead, mum just wrapped her arms around me and kissed my cheeks. “I’m just glad you’re home safe”.
That was when mum asked me how I managed to get next door.
“Easy. Like this.” I squeezed back through between the fences, tilting my head to the side to manoeuvre it between the asbestos planks. The gap between the fences was invisible unless you were standing directly in front of it.
Mum and the police officers all shook their heads in disbelief.
As frightening as it was to be trapped so high above the ground, the thought od being caught out seemed like an unnecessary embarrassment. My theory was that once mum and the police had disappeared, I would be able to slowly work my way back down the tree so that the whole incident could be blamed on mum overlooking an alternative hiding place within the house. I didn’t want to attempt climbing down the tree while people were still visible due to the risk of being caught. I knew mum was upset and worried about me, but seriously, when there is a chance of blaming someone else, you take it!