The other day I was alerted to just how bad a mother I actually am. My six year old had decided to play an impromptu game of hide and seek (there’s nothing like a small boy flying out at you from a dark corner when you’re least expecting it) and found his way down the side of the sofa in our back room (which doubles as a general dumping ground – lets not even mention the urinal in the corner). It wasn’t long before he re-appeared excitedly wielding a shiny white box with brightly coloured pictures on the side. “Mummy, what’s this, can we open it?!” he gushed as his little brother got in on the act, squealing with delight at the suggestion of *new toys*. “Put that back now!” I snapped – it was essentially a baby toy for 18 months plus which I’d picked up in a sale a few weeks ago to save for a friend’s son at Christmas.
Grudgingly he accepted that it wasn’t really as much fun as he had first thought and went to put it back. I went to over-see matters and we both glanced down into the dark space below us. “What about that one then Mummy? The one with the cupcake thingies on the side”. That threw me. Cupcake thingies? I know I have my fair share of CRAFT moments but surely I would remember cake-related equipment? I pulled out the box. It was nothing to do with cake, and I mean *nothing* to do with cake. It was a wooden fort. In pieces. Essentially a flatpack wooden fort.
I racked my brain until it dawned on me that this heavy item of boys own shenanigans was a gift to six year old JJ from his aunt and uncle… on his fifth birthday. For shame! I remember thinking “this looks complicated”, and “this looks large” after my sister in law explained that it had been bought and stored a while back when they lived in Germany and shipping would have been prohibitive. I remember thinking, look at all these new toys, let’s put a few aside so we can still see one square foot of carpet for a while longer. That was 14 months ago.
Then I did what any nonchalant breezy mummy would do and decided to *get the box out* (all the while hoping and praying that powertools would not be required).
Much was my joy when it appeared that, for the most part, towers, turrets and even a drawbridge were all designed to slot together with relative ease. Then four screws appeared out of the woodwork, or should I say, to be inserted into the woodwork.
It all looked simple enough but you know something’s gone awry when, halfway through proceedings you hear yourself saying “Didn’t I offer to make you a cheese sandwich half an hour ago? Better get on that…”. It would appear that either the screws were too long or the holes were too shallow – either way I did the best I could, et voila! One fully assembled wooden fort (complete with dinosaur invasion and slight wobble).
We have already learnt that this is a ‘table toy’ after people kept crashing into it when it was still on the floor, including three year old EJ essentially flattening the whole thing at one point with his bum. But really, in a household where there is never likely to be a doll’s house this has got to be the best alternative going – and once the kids have gone to bed? I get to re-enact scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail whenever I want (“your mother was a hamster and you’re father smelt of elderberries!”) – win win! Now I’m just hoping that the in-laws will be open to a very grateful 14 month old Thank You card…