(I thought I might post this story today instead of the usual Tuesday We Play, as our play this week has been fairly muted thanks to a combination of sickness, work busyness, and weather. Regular programming to resume next week!)
Yesterday the toddler only had a 45-minute nap. She fell asleep in the pram on the way to kindergarten at 11:50am, and by the time we got home at 12:35, she was just not willing to be transferred. This left me in the unusual position of a Monday afternoon with a wakeful toddler and work to be done. Monday afternoons being one of my golden work zones normally, this was disconcerting.
I decided, perhaps foolishly, to give it go anyway. After having lunch and reading stories, I put on a 40-minute DVD (Wiggly World) for the girl so I could get a head start. She settled into the couch under a blankie, sighed happily, and declared, "WIGS, Mama. Waggy. Cap-en. Do'fy!"
"Yes, baby," I agreed, "all of them. Mama will just be over here on the computer."
Her eyes moved to the screen and she blew me a kiss as I moved off.
So far so, good. I grabbed my SecureId token, which allows me to log in to my work network remotely, logged in, and started scanning email and responding. Time passed.
Twenty minutes into the DVD, which is the toddler's usual amount of viewing in one sitting, she shuffled off the couch and trotted over to me.
"Mama, bubbles?" she suggested, pointing at the bubble wand perched amidst the junk pile on my desk.
"Oh, soon, love..." I murmured, distracted by the email I was halfway through writing.
She made an ambiguous noise, something between a "huh" and "mmmm", and scooted off to a toybox.
Two minutes later she was back at my side, holding a plastic cat in each hand.
"Mama, meow-meow? A'muls?"
I smiled at her and took a plastic cat in one hand. "Hello there Mr Meow," I said, moving the cat up and down on her arm. "I'm sooo pleased to see you!"
The toddler cracked up laughing, as she always does. "More! 'Gen! 'Gen!" she insisted.
Then I made a fatal mistake.
Instead of logging off work, accepting that the toddler needed my attention, and getting on with it, I said, "I just have to finish this email, pet..."
The toddler frowned.
She seemed to consider throwing a tantrum, but, being an equable little girl, and a smart one, decided against that.
Rather, she grabbed my SecureID token from my desk and bolted away with it at the speed of light, laughing delightedly as she did so.
I chased her. "C, honey! Mama needs that!"
She stopped, looked at me, and said, "Mama toy! Hahahahaha!" and raced away again.
When I caught her up, the token had vanished. It was literally nowhere to be found. I sighed, and said, "C, where is Mama's toy? Where did you put it?"
She grinned at me, put her head on one side, and said, "Me cheeky!"
And that was all the information I, and three hours later her sisters when we got home from school and kinder, were able to elicit from her.
So, we searched.
We emptied five deep toyboxes. We cleared out piles of stuff and things from under beds. We scoured the floor and looked under couches. I promised the 7 and 5 year olds $5 apiece if they helped me look until it was found.
With interspersions for snacks, chapters of Trixie Belden, and cuddles, we searched until dinnertime. C, who thought it all tremendous fun, followed us around, pulling toys apart, playing, chatting. At one point her 7-year-old sister turned to her in exasperation and said, "Come ON, C, where is it? Where did you put it?"
C smiled graciously, held her arms wide, and declaimed, "Mama toy, AW GORN." Then she added, thoughtfully, "Me cheeky..."
Finally, as the kids finished their dinner, G arrived home from work.
"Your daughter has kidnapped my SecureID, I've been looking for it for hours, I haven't made anything for our dinner, sorry!" I announced, somewhat frazzled.
G looked a little taken aback (as one does when greeted with such a cavalcade) and said, "Right, well, I'll help..."
He'd been hunting for 5 minutes or so, picking up things, looking underneath, before he said, "I'll just put the musical instruments away in their box, it'll make the floor clearer."
He lifted up my 5 year old's guitar and as he did, we all heard it ...
G's eyes met mine. He turned the guitar upside down and gently thumped it.
Out fell my SecureID.
"HAHAHAHAHA! Me cheeky!" chortled C in excitement, bouncing up and down in her chair.
The big girls and I groaned in unified despair.
G grinned and put my token neatly away on a high shelf.
"Pizza for dinner, then?" he said.
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