I waved goodbye to Tracey with a smile. The kids and I were alone for the day and I had high hopes of being able to tell her how well it went when she arrived home.
That’s not to say I didn’t expect things to go wrong – I’m not stupid or delusional – but I’d be damned if I was going to let her find out about them.
My plan almost worked too.
By lunchtime things were going well. Badly, sure, but nothing which couldn’t be explained away, fixed up or ignored.
I started the loads of washing and checked on the kids. They were doing fine. Four of them, anyhow.
“Where’s Em?” I asked, and a couple of them pointed to our bedroom.
I went to the door. It was shut.
This was not a good sign.
The thing with our door is we took the handle off it a few months ago because it’s the only internal door in the house which could be locked and Miss2 worked out how to lock it. Now, and for the foreseeable future, we open it with butter knives.
“What are you doing in there?” I called through the door while I looked for the door cutlery we keep nearby. “Did you shut this door on purpose?”
My question was answered not by Miss2, but by the fact that when I sprung the door open it didn’t spring far. Only about an inch.
I squinted through the gap. I shoved my fingers in. It took me maybe thirty seconds to work out what was going on. Here’s what I want to know – How does a two year old know to jam a chair behind a door?
“Why would you do this?” I mumbled as I risked skin on my delicate banker’s hand and shoved it into the small gap I had to work with, slowly edging the door wider until I could get a decent grip on the chair and, with a slight lift, push it away.
Then the why became clear and was superseded by a where.
“Where did you get that?” I asked incredulously.
Miss2 was perched on our bed eating a lollipop. In lieu of being able to remove the wrapper she’d gnawed her way through part of the plastic and from there was sucking as much sugary goodness as her two year old saliva glands would let her. We haven’t bought lollipops since the local show, so I’ve no idea where she’d been hiding it.
I confiscated the offending sweet and tossed it in the bin.
It was time to call out the big guns.
Nap time isn’t as easy as it was six months ago. The cot no longer contains her. It’s so typical of the toddler mindset that the only time the little buggers want to jump into a bed is just as your make it. Lately, after settling Miss2 into the cot, Tracey usually holds the door handle shut until our little miss caves in.
But I had a better plan. Naturally.
“Move over,” I told her. She was sitting on our bed anyway, so why not. “Lie down and close your eyes,” I told her. And she did. This was going to be easy.
An hour later I woke with the uncomfortable sense of something not being quite right. I stretched and the sense of something wrong got even worse, especially down my right side. I reached down and my hand met with something hard and flat. I pulled it out from under me and opened my eyes to investigate.
It was a slat from one of the blinds. Not one of the blinds in our room, mind you, but, as I found out later, from the kids’ room at the other end of the house.
Because I still felt uncomfortable I reached down my right side a little further and pulled out a second slat. Then a third and a fourth.
Turns out, while I was sleeping Miss2 had ducked into her room, removed slats from the blind and brought them back to where I was ‘putting her to sleep’ and shoved them under me at roughly equal spacings, as though she was going to lever me.
I immediately decided to tell Tracey all about this when she asked what we did today, only instead of going into details I just used the phrase, ‘and then Em and I played together on the bed.’
My wife seemed very impressed with how things went. Or surprised. It was one of those.
And I would have got away with it too, if it wasn’t for …
“What the hell is this doing in our bed?” said Tracey later that night, pulling out a fifth slat from between the sheets.
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“Raising a family on little more than laughs.”