When you enter the realms of parenthood, it comes with the territory that your children will embarrass you sometimes. Perhaps not as much as you will them one day on the teen horizon, but still.
Having the toilet door burst open when you are inside is a daily occurance.
Having iPhone photos taken of me in the shower is becoming increasingly common.
Oh yes, and then there was the iPhone video that included a rummage through my knicker drawer.
I think one child standing in a posh restaurant chair in a Portugese Harbour, lifting her skirt and doing a poo when she was about 3 years old is right up there (I will not divulge which one) as is the episode of diahorrea in a BMW showroom.
However Natty's recent actions can be more described as mortifying, rather than simply embarrassing. The repurcussions effected a whole family for many hours, and not even our family.
Here's what happened when Natty tried to hold Just Bring The Chocolate Hostage...
The wonderful, gifted, inspirational, brave and tireless Renata proved all of the above, by packing her 3 children and all the equipment Dominic needs into a car and driving by herself the millions of miles down to Cornwall to stay with us. And all of that after a GOSH appointment in the morning! *in awe face*
The fun-filled 3 days were amongst the best of our summer, with all 5 siblings mucking in together and nobody making any special allowances for Dominic or Natty, who keenly felt a sense of rivalry in the cute stakes. It was very funny to observe.
I was excited that we made a fab beach camp and enjoyed the sand and sea and picnic and chips together.
Elliot's energy and zest for life was magnetic.
I was touched to be present when Dominic stood for the first time ever.
I loved every minute of our dinosaur hunt around the woods.
It was wonderful watching the big girls Mia and Lilia share stories at bedtime and revel in the female company together.
It was wonderful to get to know that amazing woman Renata a little better.
I was heartened to see the sheer enjoyment Dominic got out of a lunch of one olive, or a Calipo lolly.
I was less proud however of my bullet-hard, lipsalve-tasting vegetarian jelly trifles. (Even the chickens rejected those!) The less said about those the better however. Thank you Elliot for your honesty ;)
Still, the 3 days came to an end and it was time to pack away. Renata loaded that car while I chatted to Dominic in the kitchen. Our woods walk and pizza lunch had delayed her planned leaving time slightly, and she had a long journey ahead of her, all the way back to St Albans. Time between Dominic's meds and feeds are carefully calculated. So we pressed on. She joked that as she always travelled with so much kit, we were bound to be finding and shipping things back to her for weeks.
The children were then loaded into the car and we assembled to wave goodbye. It was 3.30 pm. She had at least a 5 hour journey ahead of her.
Renata made a final trip to the kitchen to pick up her care keys. The car keys?
"Has anyone seen my keys?"
"They are on the side aren't they?"
There followed a quick look around the obvious places, handbags, tables, in the car itself.
I rang Bob who had popped out.
"Have you seen Renata's keys babe?"
When Bob returned half an hour later we were still looking.
We had moved from the They-Must-Be-Somewhere-Obvious stage, to the I-Must-Have-Put-Them-Somewhere-Silly-in-an-Absent-Minded-Moment phase.
We retraced our steps after the walk. Renata may have carried them in her mouth to the living room when she put Dominic on the sofa.
The sofa was dismantled. We searched under, over and behind it.
At this point I began to enter the I-Wonder-If-Natty's-Had-Them phase.
"Natty, have you seen Renata's Keys?"
"Natty, where are Renata's keys?"
"I don't know."
The mood began to become more desperate. An hour had passed and they were either somehere REALLY silly or Natty had hidden/thrown away/destroyed them. In the past if she has hidden something she has always taken me straight to it.
While Renata took all the suitcases and bags out of the car and emptied them on the drive, then lifted every seat and rumaged beneath (Oh God, this was getting serious) I decided to up the motivation with Natty.
I peeled her off the iPad film she was watching to keep her in one place while we looked, I got down to her level and looked her straight in the eye. Using Makaton to back up the message I said:
"Natty, Renata needs her keys. A big set with a rabbit on them. Where are her keys? Renata wants to go home."
"In Mia's room on the shelf."
Daring to hope, we dashed upstairs and searched the very full and untidy bookshelves. Nothing.
"Natty, where are Renata's keys?" My voice was trying not to portray my worry, trying to remain jolly and encouraging.
"In my room up high."
Another mad dash. Another fruitless search.
I recall whispering to Bob "What are we going to do if we never find them?" I didn't want to panic Renata but I thought couriers and spare sets might be on the cards.
We then enetered the We-Must-Leave-No-Stone-Unturned phase.
The older children were promised vast quantities of chocolate (Renata really does Bring The Chocolate when she comes to visit) if they found the keys, and we all set about searching the house from top to bottom.
Yep, in the bins.
In every cupboard, every drawer.
Under and in every piece of furniture.
The garden was search inch by inch in case Pippin had taken a shine to the fluffy rabbit key fob.
Renata brought a hot and tired Dominic in from the car, her face slipping to worry now from its usual positive beautiful smile. I felt terrible. I continued to hope she had put them in an unusual place, but it was looking less likely. I began to pray I hadn't moved them myself. Did I pick them up and move them earlier when Natty was playing with them? Did I?
I began to retrace my steps, re-searching in more detail. This time emptying each drawer that I had already searched. Each drawer apart from the one at the bottom of the wardrobe int he guest room where Renata had been staying. I'd missed that one.
I tugged it open. It was stiff from lack of use.
There, lying slap bang in the middle of the drawer was the enormous bunch of keys and the attached red rabbit!!!
I screamed, snatched them in my hands and ran downstairs. I couldn't help crying. It was Natty's fault, my fault, our fault that Renata and gang were so delayed. 2 and a half hours had passed.
We all hugged and sat down to a cup of sweet tea and some serious chocolate and we mulled over what on earth had happened. What had gone through Natty's mind?
Had she hidden the keys to make her friends stay longer?
Had she put them in Renata's room to be helpful?
Had she put them there so long ago she had forgotten doing it?
Did she not understand what we were looking for?
Was the frantic search too much fun to cut it short by finding the keys?
I guess we will never know.
But I do know that if your child is going to hide the keys of anyone and delay their journey home by 2.5 hours, thus making their ETA midnight, then it should be one of the UK's top SEN bloggers, for at least they understand and don't cut all ties with you.
Oh, and now we hang guests' keys from an unreachable hook by the way.