Friday we went to lunch with the baby group. We went to a local pub that we visit often as a group. They've got a section in the back that the kids can run around in until the food arrives. It's been a while since we've lunched there and they've been making a lot of changes over the last year. This time we were met with a brand new pool table in the back section. Straight away Jack and Alfie found the pool ques and noted their resemblance to swords. It wasn't long before one of the bar staff appeared and removed the queues and politely asked us if we could keep the kids away from the pool table.
About every 10 minutes we had to remind the kids to keep away from the pool table. As you can imagine, each time we got a little less patient about it. The boys in particular just couldn't leave it alone. Whenever they thought we weren't looking they'd roll the que ball or run their toys along it.
When, as we readied to leave Jack came up to me, Daddy can you get my car? I knew immediately what the situation was.
You put it down one of the holes in the pool table didn't you.
I then went into a rant about how I've told him over and over to leave the pool table alone and that I might not be able to get the car back. I wasn't hugely sympathetic because this has been the pattern of his behavior for the last couple of weeks and this may have been a good way to get a point across.
After a number of apologies he lead me to the pocket in which he sent the car. I took out my key chain light and examined the pocket. I spotted the car and set about various strategies of retrieval. After 15 minutes or so I'd had no luck, the pocket was too narrow and the car was too far in. Everyone, including the manager had a look but no one could think of a way to get it out. Finally I had to tell Jack that his car was gone.
Jack was devastated, he cried and cried and refused to leave the pub without it. I don't think that it had occurred to him that I really might not be able to retrieve it. After some comforting and coaxing he finally accepted that it was gone and sobbed out a goodbye car as we left. This car happened to be his favorite, he's now on a mission to find another just like it.
This isn't the first time Jack has lost a favorite toy. A year or so ago during a particularly bad wave of disobedience Helen and I tossed out a Woody doll. He didn't take the loss of Woody as badly, it was more of a general somberness than a fit of crying and pleading. To this day he still thinks about it, something will remind him and he'll reminisce about it. I used to have that Woody doll, it's at the dump now isn't it.
Moments like these are strange because as a parent you loath the child mourning the lost object but want the child to learn a lesson at the same time. Few things are more frustrating that watching a child suffer after not heading your warnings. You're never happy to see the child upset and you're reminded of similar occasions of your own childhood.
Later on we asked Jack what lessons he learned from this and he said Not to put cars in holes which I suppose isn't a bad lesson. I tried to remind him of the 'do as I ask' lesson but I'm not sure it got through. No doubt we'll be here again real soon.