You can tell from their conversations your children are growing up; and faster than you can imagine. After all, there is hardly anything left to your busy day after succumbing to the all-important social media, the real-life rat race and unavoidable petty affairs such as the spouse, the school and the structured torture of kids via enrichment classes. You begin to understand the real meaning of a 4-year gap between your 2 kids. While they may share the same dining table and bedroom, with conversations revolving mostly around school and friends and some discoveries on the road to growing up, the content of stories coming from your 10-year old could be overwhelming for the 6-year old.

So around 4pm, at snack time, the older one casually jokes saying, “Mumma, remember WTF? Wednesday, Thursday, Friday”, with a tease. The younger one knows there is something fishy and the letter ‘F’ shares a mysterious connection with the ‘F-WORD’ that has been fascinating her sister of late. There is even a question doing the rounds at school, “Utter a word starting with F and ending with K… followed by giggles that speak out loud, Got ya! The word is FIRETRUCK!”. Instead, she decides to pull a straight face and accept it very matter-of-factly.

I look to my left and to my right and feel rather sandwiched in between, enjoying the banter of the older one, while thinking regretfully, the younger is probably absorbing too much too soon. The Mercury on my right side shoots up while my imagination runs wild thinking, by the time, she turns 10, she may find other children without older siblings ‘BORINGGGG’, to say the least. I can imagine her playing the Wise Old Owl, clarifying doubts about F-words and S-words and imparting Sex Education while I may have to resort to meditation 24/7 to calm down palpitations arising from perpetual complains shooting at me from school and concerned parents. Ahem, Ahem… That’s a dreadful enough day-dream to get me fretting over what still isn’t.

Diving back into the present, my only satisfaction about the existence of my second born’s innocence stems from the fact that she still needs me for her bedtime ritual. She is still afraid of the dark. I know, I sound like some sadist feeding off her fears. But there is no other hope, given the exposure children bring from schools, school buses, playgrounds, media and absolutely not to be missed – our very own home-bred, Older Sibling!

You can make a wild guess then, we have a tough time falling asleep each night with so many ideas floating in her head. The older one wants all lights out and conk off instantly, while the younger one dreads darkness. Her mental monsters cast a shadow on the walls the minute my hands reach for the switch. I feel sandwiched for the umpteenth time during the day and am already switched off mentally, no matter how bright or dark the surroundings may be.

Ironically, those are my best moments with the girls, for horror and comedy share an eerie, husband-wife relationship – one of always being at loggerheads, yet inseparable. Yours truly then spends an average 30-45 minutes singing and dancing to transform fears into laughs and monsters into imbeciles until the younger one is convinced she is completely safe in the dark. To my luck, the monster of the day is ‘THIEVES’. And there is a ‘What-if’ situation to be addressed.

I need to come up with some valid reasoning in a 1000th of a second, lest I need to turn the lights on again. Hence, begins my story. I assure her it will be extremely unfortunate for any thief if he so much as dares to venture our abode. She feels stumped and poses a why.

“Well”, I go on. “First up, we live in a cage, literally. Every window in the house has locked grills. Breaking-in is going to be not just noisy but too visible to outsiders. The door is locked too. And since we have disregarded the existence of thieves, we don’t use any electronic or digital locks. He doesn’t stand a chance with breaking any metallic locks in Silent Mode. And let’s assume, he goes really hi-tech, inspired by Hollywood, and uses a laser to tear open the grills, he will rip his hair off after landing into our madhouse in the dark. He is most likely to trample upon one of the sharp-edged Lego blocks, lying scattered as part of Guerrilla Warfare. Or, he may land into one of those toys capable of squeaking the most irritating noise loud enough to wake up an entire village. Or, he may pat his back for executing this work of genius by getting in unscathed, ready to steal. And that my dearies, would be the biggest blunder of his life. For, the house is full of cupboards and cabinets filled with toys, soft and hard, girlie accessories and art and craft created and mummified over the last 10 years or so (it may be worth thousands in a decade, but as of today, you couldn’t sell it to save your life), not to forget, scores of books, not so neatly lining up the shelves and ready to smash someone’s head at the slightest touch, crashing down like boulders from a landslide. There are absolutely no valuables the thief could lay his hands on. Buying TOTO could promise him a better chance at riches. At least, there is no risk of life. His best bet would be the acoustic Yamaha Piano royally lounging in our study. It is sure to fetch him a handsome price for this painstakingly stupid maneuver. However, there is no way in hell, anyone could drag it out of the house without waking the whole country up”.

By this time, the younger one is giggling away imagining it will need an absolute idiot of a thief to pick her house to launch an attack. The girls drift into slumber, while I lay there wide awake. Exhausted, I decide to give my matrimony a shot, only to realize it is already gripped by trouble. The better half is better off snoring away into dreams of meeting the next sales quota, while I resort to vexing you with my rants. It is now my turn to blurt WTF… Wednesday, Thursday, Friday before I can get any attention from you know who!

P.S. It is a wonderful feeling to see your children grow. However, in this fast-paced world, their innocence gets thrown under the bus pretty soon. True, they are way smarter than my generation and yours. I only wish their childhood lasted a little longer. Sigh…