Did you or your kid or someone you know ever have a favourite toy that they took everywhere?
Maybe a blanket, or a well loved teddy bear? Well my four year old has a possum, a ‘ring tailed possum’ as she will correct you. She’s had it for two years and ‘he’ goes everywhere with her. Frankly speaking it now looks like a rat, all stuffing has been taken out and it’s gone from brown to a grey-brown. I tried washing it the other day and couldn’t rinse out all the dirt even after the tenth soak.
Her very loved toy has been to all the landmarks and destinations on our ten month plus journey. Cradle Mountain, Uluru, Great Ocean Road, Fraser Island – and all toilet floors across Australia. It’s the fifth member of our family.
We’ve had some near misses where little miss has left poor possum in the toilet or playground or cafe but we’ve soon realised and recovered the little germ infested mite. We once went 30 minutes down a sandy beach – driving that, is on the beach – towards our cabin on Fraser Island before Layla realised she left possum back at the toilet at a hotel we stopped for lunch. So back we went, braving the incoming high tide. No one leaves possum in the corner. (Pop culture reference).
So when we recently trekked into Jim Jim Falls in Kakadu National Park – and anyone whose been there would know it’s rock hopping small rocks followed by bigger and then huge boulders, well this was no easy task for a four year old with a possum in hand, so three quarter’s of the journey towards the Falls, she entrusted Possum to me.
We got to the falls and it was well worth the creaky knees, heat stroke and sore shoulders and arms pulling and pushing a 20kg child over large rocks. After a quick swim in the chilly water, where I happened to fall flat on my face as I stepped on a slippery rock, very graceful indeed, my daughter asks where Possum was. I checked the bag at least ten times, pockets, nearby cracks in rocks. Nope no Possum. He had disappeared. And I lost it.
We walked back looking for Possum, but there was no clearly defined path, we were rock hopping over big boulders of which there were thousands. There are many different directions you can take. I tried to back track over one possible path while the family waited, I ended up disorientated and sadly no Possum to be found.
Half way to the car park we broke the news to a four year old putting on a brave face that we weren’t going to get Possum back, her heart literally broke then and there, I’ve never seen her that sad. I couldn’t bear it, not to mention the guilt over having lost Possum. So with a heavy heart and a tear in my eye I told my husband to take the kids back to the truck (he gave me that ‘crazy wife’ look) and I set off in the hot afternoon sun, over 30 degrees (C) heat and to my dismay, no drinking water left. I tried my best to find the path we took. Did I mention the colour of the rocks were the same colour as Possum? Yep, impossible mission, like a needle in a haystack.
On my way, rock hopping as quick as I could, I met some fellow travellers and helped them to find the right path and best way to the Falls. I got all the way back to the sandy beach where I first took Possum off her hands, I met two lovely girls and directed them how best to get to the gorge for a swim, and asked them to keep their eyes out for Possum.
Literally a minute later one yelled out that she found Possum, mistaking it for a snake. She looked as happy as me, as she had seen our daughter crying on the pathway (or that it wasn’t a snake). My Good Samaritan deed was returned in spades. I don’t know if I would have found Possum otherwise. It was one of the best moments of my life. I was so happy to see that little germ infested rat. I could have kissed it, but I didn’t, I shoved it safely in my zipped up shorts pocket (why in earth didn’t I do that before?).
The best moment of my life came later, after falling and grazing my knee from sheer exhaustion and ignoring the headache brought on by dehydration, I waved possum like a victory flag as our truck pulled up to pick me up and the look on my daughters face…I cant put it into words.
Since then, my little girl looks at me differently, with more love, not a day goes past the she hasn’t told me how much she loves me, at least five times a day. I think she realised just what lengths I would go, to see her happy. Oh and she has never asked me to hold Possum again 🙂