For about a year now, I've been walking a dog belonging to some neighbours of mine. This happened by chance: I was walking my own dogs on the beach one day and I met a woman and a friendly, extremely fat labrador. We got talking, and her dog was nice, and she asked me if I ever looked after other people's dogs, and it turned out that her foster parents were looking for someone to look after the friendly, extremely fat labrador in her own home for two weeks while they went on holidays.
Normally I don't like the idea of dogs being left alone for long periods of time in their own homes, but I was assured that she was used to it, so I agreed, and every day for two weeks I took her out with my own dogs for a long walk, which she loved. When the two weeks were up, I hadn't the heart to leave her to her fatness, so I said I would keep walking her as long as it was convenient. A year later, I'm still doing it. Last week, however, the neighbours' grandchild, a ten-year old boy, came to stay with them for three weeks. So now I seem to be walking him as well.
It's fine, because it's an hour out of my day and what do I really care, right? Plus he loves the dogs and they really like him, and I remember when I was his age some childless adults were really good at giving up their time to me as well, so I don't mind.
But this morning he lost my ball thrower. He was throwing the ball for the dogs, he put the ball thrower down in some shallow water close to the shore, and it just vanished. Swallowed by the seaweed and the current and a child's inability to really concentrate on looking for something properly. I took off my shoes and rolled up my trousers and waded in to look for it, and when I looked up five minutes later he was a dot on the horizon, with all five dogs crowded around him and all heading towards some people who had children but no dogs. So I gave up my ball thrower, put my shoes back on, and followed him.
There isn't really a point to this story, except to remind me that this is what life is like every second of the day for people who have kids. It's just constant wrangling. Mind you, I never would have thought to bring home so many greenish crab claws if he hadn't been with me, so I suppose I won in the end, really.