The US government’s scientific agency made the strange yet rather disappointing announcement last week that no, mermaids really don’t exist – apparently some of the US population got a bit confused after watching some TV show. I think it was The Little Mermaid.
There have been some other strange goings-on lately, especially in the animal kingdom.
A few weeks ago, not far from Southsea Castle, a couple filmed a seal splashing around in the Solent.
Then there was the report last week of an invasion of a super breed of slugs, known as the Spanish Stealth Slug (I’m picturing them in tiny Superman outfits with SSS printed across the front with a lightning bolt) who have emigrated to our clearly much more preferable climate and are threatening our own slimy critters.
Then to top it off, we were down by Canoe Lake recently when someone found a pipefish in the middle of the road. Quite how the fish had managed to get itself from the sea to Eastern Parade on a warm day is anyone’s guess. Maybe he’d cadged a lift off a friendly seagull.
If you’re wondering what any of this has to do with parenting, then the answer is nothing really. Only that all these creatures seem to have found themselves a little lost in their surroundings (except for the mermaids that don’t actually exist – no really, they don’t) and that I expect most of us have at some point experienced in a heart-stopping moment the realisation that our child is no longer stood right next to us.
This happened to me just a couple of weeks ago at a local family day when my son stopped to look at something without us realising and we had all carried on walking.
Eyes wide and heart racing, the panic sets in. Your hands become clammy, your skin cold and you feel suddenly like you can’t breathe any more. It’s a truly horrifying feeling.
He, like many children I imagine, is often in his own little bubble so I only have to take my eyes off him for a second and he’s wandered off.
Funnily enough my dad often does the same, so I’m starting to wonder if it’s perhaps genetic. Though it’s much easier to spot a gentleman with a silver teddy-boy quiff – or a Mr Whippy as my son likes to call it – than it is to spot a small child in a crowd of people.
It’s frightening how easily it can happen. Still, I’m sure humans have been misplacing their children since the dawn of time and it did make me feel a bit better when I heard that David Cameron went and left his daughter down the pub not so long ago.
While I often joke about it, I have to say I’ve never actually left my son somewhere and driven off. But then I don’t have to take a separate car filled with bodyguards, which is apparently where the confusion arose.
Anyway, there’s still time.
And if you are wondering about the little pipefish we found lost on the road, he is being looked after by the Blue Reef Aquarium and doing very well at the moment, especially considering the trauma of his long-haul flight.