On Sunday afternoon, when the boys were playing out and the house was finally quiet, my husband and I decided to indulge in some ‘alone time.’
However it became apparent, shortly afterwards, that we weren’t alone. We discovered this when we heard the high-pitched voices of two precocious American brats and discovered our six-year-old was actually in his bedroom next door, separated by only a thin wall and some Spider Man transfers, watching ‘Sis vs. Bro’ on You Tube.
He had returned quietly from his friend’s garden, quietly come upstairs and quietly logged on to his iPad.
This is a child who is incapable of going anywhere quietly. I have permanent tinnitus of ‘Muuuum!’ ringing in my ears wherever I go. He is constantly on the quest for food and loudly protesting about his extreme hunger. He seeks me out, in the shower, on the toilet, whilst I’m asleep, to have a cuddle, or a chat, or to tell tales on his brothers.
And yet, on this occasion, when we really needed him to announce his entrance, when we really needed to be aware of his presence, the little fecker chose to practise discretion and stealth.
Exchanging a panicked look, my husband deftly dressed, tiptoed past their bedroom, ran downstairs and shouted up to Z as though he’d been down there all the time. To my ears, it sounded totally unconvincing and I inwardly cringed, even more so when I’d first realised my six year old may have been irrevocably scarred for life by hearing things no child should have to hear.
I hurriedly donned clothes, checked my face for any obvious signs of dishevelment and went to check whether Z was indeed rocking in the foetal position with his hands clenched over his ears, repeating, ‘Make it stop! Make it stop!’.
All I found was a young boy entranced and apparently unscathed as he watched two children he has never met make Play-Doh models of X-Box controllers and then crawl around on the floor in bonnets and nappies, pretending to be babies.
I tried to gauge if he was concealing some inner trauma that will result in expensive therapy in ten years’ time but he’d moved on and seemed utterly enthralled by a grown woman playing make-believe with Paw Patrol figures and assessing whether Boss Baby will be woken by members of the Sylvanian family.
As I began to relax and feel unusually grateful that both televisions downstairs had, as usual, been left blaring with nobody watching them and with You Tube notched up to teeth-itching volume, I was torn. Was it better to let him watch this mind-numbing shit or hear his parents ‘at it’ in the neighbouring room?
And then I thought of the alternative, and what might have happened had he chosen to innocently enter our bedroom, full of childish wonder and enthusiasm…
Thank f*** for You Tube.