One of our favourite parks is known to the children as "Sophie's Park", because we always meet my caregiver friend Sophie there. It's a great spot: the play structure is suitably challenging without being frustrating or dangerous, there are swings, a lot of sand for the non-climbers, rocks and benches for adults to sit upon, lawns to romp on, and, in the summer a large and well-supervised wading pool. And, best of all, it is conveniently close to my favourite coffee shop (Second Cup)! To one side of the play structure is a stand of spruce trees, happily placed for the littler ones to deal with the call of nature. It's cool and shaded, reasonably well-screened from the playground, grassy at the edges and smoothly carpeted with fallen spruce needles in the innermost section. On this particular day, my eleven year old, Emma, was with us, and so when Darcy declared his need to visit the trees right when I was changing a diaper, I sent her along to supervise. A pause, and then: "Mummy! Darcy's crying! I don't know why!" Darcy is a quiet little guy. He doesn't fuss much, but when he does, it can be quite a challenge to determine exactly why, as he just stands, quietly whimpering, with his head hanging, tears dripping from his sad little face. This is what I discovered when I ducked under the branches. I kneel in front of him as he stands, his pants still down around his ankles. "He won't let me pull his pants up, mummy. He just stood up and started to cry, but won't let me help him!" Emma too is distressed, tears in her eyes, her soft heart aching to be of assistance, her assistance refused. Clearly mum better act quickly, or there will be two of them in tears. An assessment is required. "Are you hurt, Darcy?" Whimper. "Did something frighten you?" Whimper. I reach to pull his pants up: that gets a vehement response - he swats my hand away and yelps. I have a flash of intuition, and turn the boy around. I've mentioned before that I have all children, girls and boys, sit to pee? Darcy had gone a little further under the trees than I normally encourage, and instead of sitting on grass, he'd sit on the carpet of needles - last year's yellow, dry, and incredibly sharp needles - needles which are currently protruding from between his chubby cheeks in a nasty arc of brittle spikes! Apparently, when he stood up, he'd managed to take on some cargo. Yeowch!