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Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I remove the last of the safety devices on the last drawer in the kitchen. I can’t recall how much that particular mistake cost, but I know that it was extravagant. The things I wanted to be secure such as the fridge and the oven, could not be secured.

Back then chaos ruled and nothing was secure, least of all my own brain. I knew that something was amiss but I was unable to pin down what it was, exactly or even partially. I suspected that I had made a serious error of judgment, that I was simply too old to have three young children. Their dad worked for a start up, which roughly translates to involuntary servitude. Guilt made him indulgent. “Of course, get someone in to install child locks on everything and damn the cost.” Ultimately, it was of no help, but at the time it seemed like a solid investment.

I can recall the man who came to the house quite vividly. We had lived in America for about 6 years. Although my memory is unreliable, I don’t remember meeting anyone during that time who was unfriendly. My knowledge of Americans was limited, but if he was Californian, then I was a chicken. He wandered around my house slowly with a casual air of disdain.

Usually, when someone came to fix something, the fixer would remain in one place fixing something whilst I charged around herding. This was different. I had to accompany him and give detailed instructions as to what was to be secured and what did not. He ran his finger over every surface and looked in every door and drawer with distaste and impatience. I had never met an unfriendly American, nor had I ever invited such a person into my home. I tried to hold an intelligent conversation with him, over the din of my very loud and wild children. I carried one or other of them alternately. If I was the sun, then my planets were in close orbit at all times. His disapproval was palpable.

As I hauled the children upstairs they wailed all the more loudly. My explanation "we don't tend to go upstairs during the day time," sounded ludicrous even to my own ears. "Whadaya want a gate for then?" he sneered.
"So that they can't escape at night time," seemed equally bizarre.

As he left, his passing shot was, “I’ll send the estimate in the mail, but nothing will secure your kids more than good parenting.”

I was mortified and chastised in one icy breath.

But that was then, and this is now. I put all the locks in a bag together with their screws and fitments, enough to secure Fort Knox, nearly all of them broken as my son approaches.

"What you are do?"
"Just taking off the old baby locks dear."
"We dun be needen em no more?"
"Nope, I think we're safe enough, just as we are."

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