Monday, 15 February 2010

Kids in woods

How to spot and catch kids in woods. Particularly: woods with fantastic rope swings, gigantic sandy pits, deep rain scoured ditches, brilliant slidy steep slopes, excellent climbing trees, curious exciting unknown things, and mud.

1: Preparing to go spotting. 2: Guidance for the spotter. 3: Spotting a kid. 4: Spoil heaps and Scratching grounds. 5: Calling sounds. 6: Catching kids in woods.

1: Preparing to go spotting.
Think feet! You could be outdoors, standing up, for a considerable time. This might be difficult for the grown up accustomed to desk-lolling or chair-sitting. Wear sturdy footwear and warm clothing. Take hot soup in thermos flasks. Do not, under any circumstances, leave the thermos on the kitchen table where it is the first sight to greet you on return.

For cases where there are home educated kids in woods, wear two pairs of socks, carry flares, compass, whistle, ration packs and magnesium fire starter in emergency survival drawstring bag. Quite frankly, you could be lost in woodland for days tracking the little blighters. You may need to erect temporary shelter and eat boar.

2: Guidance for the spotter.
Be patient. Do not grumble. Loud noises and gruff shouting are pointless. Kids in woods will run off. They can run faster than you. And they know that fat arsed chair sitters cannot climb trees.

3: Spotting a kid.
Kids in woods are difficult to spot. Take binoculars. Take up an observation point, like behind a not very interesting tree. Ensure the observation ground is shared with other parent-type spotters. You will all need to huddle together when it starts to snow and share emotional support when you realise there are still three hours of woodland kid spotting to go.

Ssh! Feral home educated kids in woods spotted
towards tea time on the Greensand Ridge. See how they move in packs.

Note habits: both low to the ground, and intensive jumping from tree to tree using rope swings.
This may be a form of ritual display.
Anthropologists are working on this right now.

Rare footage of balletic tree swinging showing great accomplishment and skill.
Kids in woods may attain high status in packs through display of physical achievements.

4: Spoil heaps and Scratching grounds.
Spoil heaps and Scratching grounds are kid meeting grounds. They are identified by inexplicable bits of rock piled up, sticks balanced on rocks, lots of muddy footprints, and dug out holes.

Caution: Do not attempt to pile up some sticks in the hope of attracting kids in woods. Kids in woods will not come. They know the difference matey between a pathetic adult trap and a proper kid assembly. Forget it. That is a rubbish plan. Go back to your observation tree and wait.

5: Calling sounds.
You can identify kids in woods from scuttering sounds and giggling noises. If you are alerted to a pack of kids in woods, do not attempt to hail them. They will all run off. My advice is to stay quiet and hide. That way, when they burst from the undergrowth, run past you, grab hold of a rope and hurl themselves into the far bushes, you stand a slim chance of attracting their attention with the melancholic parental cry Please, please, please can we go home now?

Come to think of it, that doesn't bloody work.

Weeping Poor Mama! Poor Mama! doesn't work either. They totally ignore this, band together in packs, and scurry off into the thickets to experiment further with twigs.

6. Catching kids in woods.
This is, of course, the goal of all kids in woods spotters: to determine the location of your kid in wood, from where it may be safely taken home again, wrestled into the bath and replaced overnight in the nest. The best way to do this is bribe it with its favourite food. Pasta and tomato sauce does the trick round here. With extra cheese. Then fruit salad. Yes, tinned peaches too.

Even then, things may be tricky, and you may yet need to approach with great caution, because after three hours, kid in wood has learned how to defend itself against anything you might like to think is parental devotion.


Sam said...

I love this post.

But not even food bribery works for us. I have to resort to "We're going to miss the train!"

Of course, later they remember we came by car. HA!

sunnymama said...

I love this post too. Really made me smile and as the home educating mother of a three year old it's great insider information to have! Best stock up on the tinned peaches. :)

kellyi said...

I love woods, I love kids, but after spending many hours chasing the blighters about, I'm not sure I like the combination some times!

Your post makes me wish for summer, it all seems a bit easier in the summer.

Lisa said...

I have found the only way to retrieve kids in the woods is to bribe with daddy's not-so-secret stash of Jaffa cakes.

At one point feigning serious injury by lying down and yelping used to get them running back to me so they were within pouncing range- but even my two year old is wise to that trick now :(

Grit said...

Sam, that is cunning. a superb kid outwitting manoeuvre!

ah! three years old! i carried a tennis ball everywhere. they would all run in the same direction if i rolled the ball along the path ahead of them. they did that regardless of how tired they felt or how much, to that point, they wanted carrying. roll the ball and the gritlets would run after it. got us miles.

the national trust woman at stowe confiscated it. i do not bear grudges, it's just that i haven't forgiven her.

yes kelly! summer! summer!

lisa, that sounds like a good trick to me; i could double it up as a lesson on care for the injured and elderly.

sunnymama said...

Right. I'll add tennis balls to the list. (Taking notes here!) :)

Toni said...

What a wonderful Mumma to take kids out on such an exciting adventure. Must admit the swinging shots look a bit like an uncle we know.....