It is 6.45am and it’s raining pants.
Harry, Kit and Alec burst into our bedroom wearing, of course, pants.
Harry leaps forward.
“Fact One,” he shouts, “Pants Man does NOT wear a cape.”
Pause for giggling.
“Fact Two,” he continues, “Pants Man…. throws pants.” About 20 pairs of pants land on our bed, some thrown with surprising force.
“Fact Three: Pants Man never clears up!”
An eruption of hysteria and all three scamper from the room, leaving my husband and I with a couple of Y-fronts dangling from each ear.
Later Pants Man and his sidekicks attempt a multiple pant-wearing world record with the final tally as follows: Harry, 22 pairs, Alec, 10 and Kit 10 (including two pairs on his head). The game then had to be abandoned due to the boys walking with an odd gait, later identified as early onset of circulation cut-off.
Although part of a generation which apparently doesn’t know how to play anymore, my boys dream up far more interesting games than I ever managed as a child.
My sister and I used to spend entire days writing out pretend library cards and would then fight over who got to be the librarian when mum or dad came into the room to ‘borrow’ a book. Occasionally Barbie would be taken to an elaborately constructed ‘beach’ or our neighbour’s elderly, arthritic dog would be persuaded to heave himself over a course of jumps we’d set out in the garden. I don’t remember ever wearing 22 pairs of pants, but I wish I had.
Games now tend to be spearheaded by Harry, seven, with Alec and Kit, four, providing manpower for supporting and universally subservient walk-on parts. Occasionally they get a promotion if they cry. In the bath recently, Harry appointed himself Jesus, with Alec as his brother and Kit as Joseph. When Alec objected he was generously upgraded to be Jesus’ twin. Later when I lost my temper with Harry for splashing bathwater everywhere he complained: “Awww, you can’t tell me off – I’m the baby Jesus.” Two years spent at a Church of England school has clearly had an affect on his sense of self.
Last week Kit set up shop as a hotel manager and chef with Harry as his guest. This involved huge powers of imagination given that neither Kit nor Alec have ever set foot in a hotel. It probably explains why the menu was infinite and everything was free.
“What about me?” asked Alec hopefully. There was silence. “You can be the doorman Alec,” suggested my husband finally. “You can call taxis and ….. stuff.”
A dejected Alec trudged off and took up his position at the door. Fifteen minutes later his taxi summoning skills had not been called for but he remained doggedly on duty.
This is not to suggest that the majority of the boys’ games together are either lengthy or harmonious. They nearly always conclude with one or more participants sobbing while clutching an eye, limb or broken toy. Often only moments after they’ve started.
However the violence, petty arguments and sofa cushion chaos are all worth it for the chance to eavesdrop on the fantastic randomness of three young imaginations in full flight.
Harry once decided to give everyone a super power based on the order of who got dressed first. The powers allocated were: me – invisibility, my husband – sense of smell, Harry – a paper man, Kit – yellow hair and Alec – raisin teeth.
Which just goes to show that it pays to get dressed quickly. With or without pants.