(Or, A Reluctant Father’s Guide to Child-Raising in a Post-Apocalyptic World. Explanation.)
I wrap the lollypop in a clean hanky, my sticky trophy for standing my ground and weathering the tantrum. Sam has already scuttled to the metal pipe ladder, and I stand to one side with a guiding hand at the ready. It’s been a few months since he got the hang of climbing this thing by himself, but my guardian angel routine still kicks in ready for the odd misplace foot.
He scrambles through the second tier of the play equipment to the top of the slide. He went through a phase of throwing himself down the chute with complete abandon and little injury until one day he caught the landing mat awkwardly and hollered for a full twenty minutes. Since then a self-preserving caution has begun to show in his behaviour.
He sits at the top of the slide, tiny legs and shoes out like rams. He wriggles to escape the friction between his bum and the plastic, and I see his fine blonde hair start to stand as static builds.
Then Sam sees the Monster.
Distracted as I am, it’s only through the change in Sam’s demeanour that I follow his line of sight. A hundred metres away, confused by the sun, stands what was once a postman.