I have the good fortune to have collected a small but not inconsequential set of young children in recent years (that'll be it now though; I've figured out what's causing it). And while parenthood is obviously a hugely rewarding privilege, there can be no doubt that at times the little monkeys can make you want to scream and shout and jump up and down and rant and rave and pull your hair out.
Now, I'm not about to turn Siddie Nam's Too Wordy For Twitter into a blog about parenting, or a whine bemoaning my lot in life. But I need to get this off my chest, so if you'll indulge me just for today I'd appreciate it.
It's the running off. Just that. Not the getting up for no reason in the middle of the night. Not the relentless asking of the same questions ("are we there yet?"). Not the single shoe by the front door when you're already late going out. Not even the tomatoey patina coating face and clothes following spaghetti bolognese (you'd think I'd learn). Just the running off. I want it to stop.
Sometimes my children are scarily computer literate. Recently my five year old was left playing educational games on the CBBC website, only to be discovered later trying to book a flight on EasyJet. Despite this, they're not yet reading my blog. So I fear this plea may fall on deaf ears. But let's try it. Kids: can you PLEASE stop running off.
We took them to The Imperial War Museum on Sunday (I'll tell you a bit more about this another time). The journey involves a walk, a train and another walk. As we left the front door, off one of them went down the road, and the other instinctively followed. When we got to the station, off they ran again. At the destination station: whizz. Away like greased lightning. The walk to the museum was punctuated by minor bids for freedom. Next, at the museum: "kids, this is a museum, please don't run off" -- yeah, right.
The way back was full of several more escape attempts, and at the station, they ran off once again. All of this was helped along by miscellaneous climbs up anything climbable, and the collecting of random natural treasures such as sticks, pebbles and squashed desiccated earthworms. Oh, and sometimes, because it's just so much fun looking for them, they chose to hide, too.
On the road home, my little boy, just five years old, said suddenly and tearfully, "Daddy, why is it so far? My legs ache... Daddy, Daddy, WAHHH...!" Soft hearted fool that I am, I carried him to the front door. Little treasures. You gotta love 'em.