“Do you know where the office drawer keys are” came the shout from our home office. My husband works from home. The office is situated between the kitchen and the living room and is frequented regularly by the children. It is the hub for his business. Important documents, cheque books and other vital items are kept in the drawers.
I didn’t have a clue where the keys were but I knew a 2 year old who more than likely did. I had witnessed him playing with said keys which were hanging out of the drawers at the time. Leaving the keys in such a desirable place is tantamount to leaving a big sparkly necklace in full view of a magpie.
Having been in similar situations to this on several occasions I realised I had to tread carefully. I have lost many items in the past; money, mobile phones and kitchen utensils to name a few by going in too heavy handed. Cross words or a face like thunder would not retrieve the keys. I had to be like Kevin Spacey in the film ‘The Negotiator. I had to play the game, talk him down to recover the bounty.
So I approached the 2 year old with caution and said in my best Mary Poppins-esque jolly voice “Do you know where Daddy’s drawer keys are?”
There was silence, he was thinking, weighing me up, working out if I was really jolly or whether I was going to frog march him to the naughty step. Staring at him with honourable and trustworthy eyes I waited with baited breath.
“Garden” he simply replied and continued about his business. He’d admitted his guilt with just one word, I wanted to bollock him but I was still in negotiator territory.
We have a fairly large garden with more hidey holes than a piece of Swiss cheese. I knew this magpie; I knew he would not put them in an obvious place. If I had said what I wanted to say … “Go and find those keys immediately and then return to the naughty step where you will stay until a week on Wednesday” then they would be lost forever; or, until, we’d had a trip to IKEA to buy a whole new drawer unit when they would miraculously appear just as the flat pack instructions were being sworn at and ripped in two … isn’t that what always happens? Law of sod.
So I morphed once more into my Mary Poppins alter ego and with a look of sugar coated glee said to him “Mummy would be absolutely delighted if you could find the keys”. That was all it took, he was off, like a sniffer dog. I watched from a distance not wanting to put him off the scent.
As he walked towards the playhouse I felt relief, a sensible hidey hole. Then he stopped short of the playhouse, knelt on the decking and pressed his face as close to the wet wood as he could, moving along the 1cm gaps between each plank until he stood up and announced in his solo-word style ‘Gone’ and shrugged.
Like a member of the SAS I moved in. Kneeling on the wet decking, which is quite unpleasant, I set about looking for the smallest glint amongst the soggy leaves which lay beneath. A few moments later I spotted the little buggers. My next task was to retrieve them. If I were a real member of the SAS I would have had a length of string with an elaborate magnet attached to the end which I would keep down my undercrackers for such situations. I had to improvise. A magnetic fishing game would have been invaluable at this point. Alas, this is probably the only toy we don’t have. Instead I had to resort to a two pronged carving fork.
Triumphant I returned the bounty to my husband who wasn’t as amazed as I would have liked after the aptitude I had shown. He was probably relieved that he wasn’t going to have to crowbar next month’s gig tickets out of the drawers.
If anyone is wondering what to buy the 2 year old for Christmas, a magnetic fishing game would be perfect.