We’re having a really enjoyable family afternoon at The Maize Maze on the Quex Park Complex in Birchington when I slowly begin to realise that I’m getting into a bit of psychological trouble.
It’s a lovely day, the sun is shining, the kids are having fun and my wife and I are being mega competitive as we dash around, trying to solve all the clues. We split into two teams, swapping children occasionally so that we can both help to steer them in the right direction.
Then it happens.
We’ve missed a clue and, as we’ve already left the maze, I offer to dash back inside to find it. I’m pretty sure I know where it is: I just can’t remember the letter that was printed on it.
I go back in, and start to look.
I walk round and round in circles for a bit, then stop to stare at the vaguely masonic tower in the distance. It’s at this point that I realize a few things: namely….
- Thick clouds have boiled up overheard, and the sky has darkened. A lot.
- I can’t hear anything: the sounds of children playing and parents laughing have died away.
- It’s been at least five, possibly ten minutes since I’ve seen anyone.
Ridiculously, my heart starts to beat really fast….and I speed up. I run round and round in what I think is the right way, but it just lands me up at a dead-end.
That’s when my abandonment issues start to kick in, and I hear myself shout: ‘Hello?’ for no apparent reason.
There isn’t an answer, and it starts to rain.
I’m trapped in a maze with cartoon clues intended to pose a challenge for seven-year olds, and I’m actually frightened.
‘John!’ I shout suddenly….which must be pure panic, because I’m with my wife and neither of my kids is called John. It was more like a sound than a word.
There’s no reply, no noise, no activity.
The rain gets heavier.
I take a deep breath, say to myself (out loud): ‘Dave – calm the hell down. You’re a grown man. What’s the worst that can happen?’
Then – wait for it – I hear myself say: ‘They might never find you.’
I actually feel my mouth drop open. I say: ‘Who said that?’
I don’t need to look around: I know it’s ME talking.
Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m not jackpot mental….but I said the FIRST thing, it was me asking the question: I don’t have a clue who answered it. Not really. I mean, I know I spoke…but it wasn’t my mind that answered: it was someone else’s.
Now I’m absolutely sh*tting myself, because not only am I trapped in a kids’ maze, now I’m talking to myself and getting answers. That’s an actual CONVERSATION. That’s TERRIFYING. It’s only been five minutes. They say mankind is only ever four meals away from complete anarchy: if you deprive a man for four meals, he comes at you with fists flying (no idea how this applies to the girls) but how far away are we from the borders of insanity on a day to day basis?
The last time this internal conversation thing happened, I was on the toilet, emptying my bowels, when I suddenly and inexplicably said to myself: ‘You’re doing really well!’ and actually stopped – mid poo – to figure out who had made the comment. After all, if I’m the one doing really well and I’M the one on the toilet, it has to be someone else making the observation.
Things in the maze go from bad to worse when I suddenly realise that I feel like Harry Potter in that awful bit from The Goblet of Fire.
I bet this is how Voldemort went bad, I think as I trudge along. You know, one thing leads to another and before you know it you’re talking in tongues, wearing a long black dress and hiding pieces of yourself all over the place.
When I turn a corner and see my wife at the end of a long path, I actually bolt towards her with my arms outstretched, like a toddler running for its mummy.
‘Is dad okay?’ my son asks as I get all the hugs.
My wife reaches down and pats him on the head. ‘He’s fine,’ she says. ‘He just got a bit scared in here all by himself. Daddy has abandonment issues.’
She’s right: I might have more than one personality, but I definitely have abandonment issues.
We both do.