There’s a knock at chateau Grumps front door. I answer it and am faced with an intimidating sight. It is the four year old from next door. Intimidating because I struggle to communicate with people of extreme youth.
But I know why he’s knocking. He’s not calling to see how we are. He’s not being sociable and friendly. He wants something. They always want something. I hear children shouting at their parents when out and about. “I want a toy,” or, “I want a Macdonalds,” or, “I want an ice cream,” or, “Let me out! I want my Mommy.” If it’s not that they are always asking stupid questions like “Why are you telling me to be quiet?” “Why are you so ugly?” or “Why are you hiding in the bushes?” Why, Why, Why! So many questions! So needy!
No doubt this little man with his super cute, butter wouldn’t melt exterior has an ulterior motive but I wouldn’t fall for it. Oh no. Not this time. It better not be a ball over the fence again. I’m not exactly sad enough to be counting but according to the Trespassing Ball Spread Sheet it’s already happened 184 times in the past 18 months. I won’t stand for it again!
“Uncle Grump. Can I have my paper plane back please?” in his little squeaky voice. See? I knew it. He wants something. Well he doesn’t realise that I will not be broken. He won’t wear me down. I’m stone cold today. I am the immovable object!
I furrow my brow and in the deepest gruff voice I can muster I reply. “Your plane is in my garden?” “Yeah,” he says, “My paper plane.”
Again, in my gruff, gravelled, not too dissimilar to a 1980’s WWF wrestler called Beautiful Steven or Gorilla Bob, trash talking voice I respond, “Why is the plane in my garden?” I’m kind of hoping that my angry voice alone will make him cry. At least it’s not a ball I think. Although I may have to set up a new miscellaneous object spread sheet.
This four year old is not fazed by my harsh exterior. No, he’s a professional. He’s good. He responds.
“I flied it.”
“You flied it?” I ask. Wait a minute! What is that I feel? Where has my furrowed brow disappeared to? Why are the corners of my mouth upturned? Where did the WWF voice go? It appears to have wandered off along with the three tons of gravel I had in my throat and has been replaced by the voice of a children’s TV presenter! This is not going to plan.
“Yeah, I flied it. I threw it and it flied over the fence.” Oh, this kid is a master. A master of cute so much so that he has through resilience, determination and tenacity broken down the Grump next door, turning him into a pathetic Children’s TV presenter but without the brightly coloured clothes.
At that his Dad comes running out with the look of panic that parents get when they lose a child. He sees his son at my door and calls him back, apologising for the interruption. It turns out that the little man of four years old took the initiative to let himself out of his front door and wander round to my house to get his plane back without informing his parents. He is definitely not shy.
He then headed home whilst being told off by his Dad for leaving the house in the way he did.
It’s just as well he did head home. To return to my unflinching grumpy self I was about to lay the guilt trip on him, saying that thanks to his actions and complete irresponsibility, the plane has crashed in my garden and therefore he is to blame for the deaths of the passengers and the crew. There’s nothing like emotionally scarring a child with the heavy burden and guilt of having blood on their hands all through the medium of play.
I go into the back garden of Chateau Grump and I see the paper plane, lying there, intact. I am impressed with the quality of its manufacture with good quality folds, rigidness and aerodynamics.
Then I flied it.