They have been in bed for barely ten minutes when I hear a soft tapping on the front door because I have better hearing than a bat, as is so often the case when a person has a weakness, other senses compensate. I fly to the door and welcome him in, “Hi, come on through.” The visitor's soft footfalls alert the herd on high. They bound down the stairs to meet and greet, because anything is better than going to bed. Perchance to dream and rats to sleep.
Spouse's visitor has arrived to discuss very important matters. The menfolk require solitude and silence to accomplish their goal. Their goal does not accommodate three minors who should be fast asleep already. They hang on the staircase dithering between two opposing forces, the Mother of all Titans and an unknown stranger. I lose of course. “What you are?”
“Hi I'm Hans.” He knows about our children.
“You are work?”
“No I'm a friend of yur Dad's.” He's a natural.
“You are night?”
“Yes, I think you guys are supposed to be in bed huh?” For a non-parent I am well impressed.
“We are say hello.”
“Come along you lot, say goodnight, not hello.” I am so cross that they're all out of bed and we'll have to repeat the whole 'good night' routine to get back into the well worn groove. The bed time routine encompasses specific words in precise order for two of them. It is time consuming and ritualized. Any deviation from form requires repetition, back to square one. Nothing less than perfection is acceptable.
There again, I am so happy that all of my children are interested in a visitor. It reflects the change in my multiple choice life of a few years ago. Then I had two choices, the stranger would be unnoticed, the stranger would be noticed and categorized as a 'thing of terror.' That was a considerable improvement on previous years, when only the second category existed. When the 'thing of terror' arrived I transformed myself into a Koala bear, where two cubs clung to me frozen with fear. The fear has gone because all children develop and grow.
“Why Hans he is here?” I debate. I decide that truth in advertising would be a good policy? I shall appeal to their innate sense of fairness which is deep seated and firmly entrenched.
“Hans is here for a play date with Daddy.”
“A play date?”
“Where he be play?”
“In the garage.”
“In dah garage?”
“We can be play in dah garage too?”
“Well sometimes it's hard to share a play date, isn't it?” They look from one to another and internal calculation of pros and cons, privacy and sharing or so I surmise because I am an expert. I know their internal workings and can anticipate all possibilities, instantaneously.
“Dis is yur first play date Daddy?” The men folk exchange cautious glances, wide eyed, “well….er…..yes!”
The children’s bodies are already turned around in the process of scrabbling back up the stairs, as their spokesperson bellows, “play nice guys.”