I was walking through our local park, home to tactless teens and moody mums, when I heard an almighty wail. Distracted from our duck watching, LLC and I turned to see a little girl of about four burst into a tearful meltdown while her mother wrestled desperately with a long reed. At first glance it was a bizarre sight.
And then I saw it: a small doll, partially enveloped by the murky algae-rife water of the adjacent pond, gently bobbing away three feel below the pavement lining the water’s edge. I now approached sympathetically just as the mother won her battle with the reed and our eyes met.
“Would you keep your eye on my two while I try to fish out her dolly,” she desperately enquired motioning at her hysterical daughter and slightly stunned smaller son, confined within a pushchair.
“Sure, of course.” I murmured gentle words of encouragement to the little girl as her mother poked and prodded her doll through the railing. With each unsuccessful effort, her level of hysteria mounted. The reed was just too short.
“I better try from the other side of the railing,” the mother reasoned. She moved further down the pavement where the railing began and moved to the other side, gripping it as she shimmied along the concrete slant leading to the water’s edge.
Try as she might, the doll was still out of her reach. Her daughter’s tears reached a new powerful crescendo while her son and LLC watched on in awe from their strollers.
“Here, take my hand,” I offered. We locked fingers and I braced my shoulder against the railing for leverage. “I’ve got you.” I extended my full arm through the bars until the railing dug into my shoulder. But that reed was flimsy and useless, and the doll swirled and dipped with each failed attempt to fish it out.
“If I lay down and you grab my ankle, maybe I’ll be able to reach just a big further,” Reed Mama cringed.
“Sure, yes, go for it,” I tried to pump her up. “Okay, I’ve got your ankle. I won’t let you go.”
And this is how another kind mother found us. She promptly detached the sun cover of her pushchair and passed it down to Reed Mama, who used it as a much more effective fishing line to catch and capture the sodden dolly. We three mothers exhaled, and cheered.
Back on level ground on the right side of the railing, Reed Mama presented the beloved dolly to her crestfallen little lady. Dirty and wet, the doll reflected the wear and tear of her ordeal and this brought on a fresh wave of wailing.
Reed mama rolled her eyes at me, dusting the dirt from her clothing.