I did, whilst "remain calm" played over and over in my head like a scratched record (iykwim) and sweat saturated my hair and dripped from my brow. :)
D'you wanna know?
I took our four youngest to Kellys Falls today. The plan was simple - we'd take some victuals (gotta love that word! Pron. vittles) in our backpacks - and eat them some time, walk through the bush, see the waterfall, and then head home again.
We arrived at the falls via a severely potholed road and were the only ones there - that was fine. After strolling down the track towards the falls for a few minutes we came to the top of the falls where you could cross over and walk around the other side. We stepped across the conveniently placed rocks and headed around the other side to find out if we would actually be able to see the waterfall that I had seen in the pictures. Maybe we could've if we did some more stone-stepping stream crossing but we didn't. We headed back to the carpark.
Supplies were eaten, water was imbibed, and most of us decided to leave our stuff in the car to walk the trail to Stanwell Tops - 795 metres long, it said on the sign. We headed off, noticing lots of wonderful fungus specimens (which made me think of Jill GG - funny that!). I confidently told the kids about fungi - it likes moist, warm, humid conditions. I took photos. No bells were ringing.
We strolled at a leisurely pace, checking out the native plants, the sap bleeding from trees, the fungi. We stopped and listened. We could hear bird calls and little movements in the thick bush. I don't know how far we had walked - maybe 500 metres -when Caitlin felt something on her leg. THEN the bells starting ringing.
Caitlin had a leech on her. No wait she had lots of leeches on her. Hang on - we ALL had lots of leeches on us. Please remain calm. Malachi gets the award for the calmest kid. There's no second and third but we all know who DID NOT remain calm - Hudson. I swear, the people in Helensburgh probably wondered if a murder was being committed in the bush. Fortunately that domino panic effect (I don't know what it is called but it is like THIS) didn't take hold as it has in the past. I don't know if that was because of the absence of other children (who will remain unnamed) or the amazing self control that I was exhibiting whilst I could feel a leech squirming under my foot, IN my shoe, and telling the children to stay calm.
I left the leech/es unacknowledged in my shoe/s and tended to all four kids - removed their shoes, flicked the leeches off socks and skin, prised leeches from under shoelaces, inner soles and tongues (shoe tongues, that is), checked the legs further up and then replaced the shoes. Meanwhile, the kids are jogging on the spot (this makes me LOL) cos that's what I told them to do. Little did I know at the time, that the jogging on the spot prolly didn't stop the leeches getting back on, but it sure helped distract the kids into thinking they were safe. If only I had the presence of mind to video the whole thing - it'd be a Funniest Home Video winner, for sure. :)
My determination to finish the walk dissolved instantly at the thought of leeches and I was happy to head, quickly, back to the car. About half way back we stopped on a big rock and decided to do another check. Hudson spotted a leech on his shoe. He jumped off the rock and ran along the track screaming all the while as if something at the end of the track would save him from the terror. It didn't take him too long to realise that he was more likely to be saved by me, so he turned and screamed back to me. One at a time, starting with Hudson, again I removed the kids' shoes, flicked the leeches off socks and skin, prised leeches from under shoelaces, inner soles and tongues (shoe tongues, that is), checked the legs further up and then replaced the shoes. Then I did mine again too.
Quickly was not quick enough. I think it probably took us 3 minutes to get back to the car, where it had taken us about 40 mins to stroll in the opposite direction. When we reached the carpark we all headed to a picnic table to do the whole routine again. By this time I thought, "I should take a picture of a leech." HA! I wasn't going to ask any child to just hang on while I took a photo and at that stage I had none left on me - just one in the groove on the bottom of my shoe.
You know how when you talk about headlice you start feeling them crawling around in your hair, and you surreptitiously have a little scratch, telling yourself that you know you don't have nits? Well, I thought one of those little suckers had managed to crawl to the top of my jeans! I did not do a repeat performance of ignoration and disacknowledgement (they're words - now). I am glad to announce that there was no leech. :)
At one stage at a leech check point I must have said out loud, "Where's Daddy when we need him?" Malachi thought that was a grand idea and suggested we give him a call. We didn't.
By the time we were back at a park in Engadine the kids were happy to check their own shoes, confident that we had indeed removed all the leeches and left them far behind - all clear. I checked my shoes for the 4th time - all clear. Despite the drama having run its course, I still had enough adrenaline coursing through my veins to keep me going for at least another 8 hours. But that's another story.
Note: No more photos were taken from the instant the leeches entered our consciousness!