You spot them, a few paces away, looking at you with beady little eyes. A candle of snot slugs its way out of their nostril, trickling over a top lip onto waiting tongue. You freeze. They freeze. Everyone else fades into the background, the hum of conversation becoming all distant and echoey. It’s like a scene out of a Wild West film.
And then they come for you, toddling, nappy-padded bum wiggling from side to side, grubby hands outstretched, heading right for you and your favourite jeans. At this point, you know just two things:
- This is not your child.
- The child’s parents are probably watching from afar, chuckling softly to themselves.
You break off eye contact, looking anywhere other than the bumbling child of menace teetering towards you. In your mind you frantically run through your options (see previous post), but discover that you are unable to move, limbs frozen solid with fear. And your face looks like this.
The toddler reaches you and – before his revolting little fingers touch your nice Levis, you place a few fingers on his chest and give him a gentle push away; nothing too hard, not so he falls over, just so he loses his balance a little and backs the flip up.
And that’s when the nightmare begins. The child misconstrues this action and, instead of taking the hint and pushing off to annoy someone else, he takes it as an invitation. HE THINKS YOU’RE PLAYING A GAME WITH HIM. And so he comes back for more and more, and each time you shove him away, grinning like an idiot so his parents can’t read your dark murderous thoughts.
And he doesn’t stop. He never stops. And, therefore, the nightmare never stops.