Like every family with small children, our home is littered with small plastic stuff that you step on when you’re at your most vulnerable, and often while you’re carrying a tray of hot drinks.
The main culprits in our house are brightly coloured building blocks that render themselves invisible whenever they detect me approaching with scalding hot cuppas.
Or were. Because after one near-casualty incident too many, I hit the roof and demanded the floors be cleared of these accidents-waiting-to-happen or I’d put them in a bin bag and set fire to them. Which wouldn’t be good for the environment.
And so, about a year ago, my seven year-old son took it on himself to be the Protector of the Plastic Shite – bless him! – and built a rather impressive piece of modern art, slotting them together so they created a triangular stack, complete with turrets, that would put anything they’re trying to erect in the City to shame.
This became his pride and joy – and no-one, but no-one – was allowed to touch it, let alone play with it.
It became such a feature of our living room that we had it on the sideboard, displayed like a Damien Hirst, and if we were a bit more entrepreneurial we might even have been able to flog it for a fortune to a Saw-You-Coming-Mug like Charles Saatchi.
Then one evening this week, disaster – in the form of our youngest son – struck.
Tired of being teased by the perfection of this artful beauty, he decided to exercise his four year-old instinct and became a mini wrecking ball. Plastic bricks weren’t meant to be formed into perfectly neat towers of beauty and wonder: they were meant to be destroyed. And destroy them he did.
As I surveyed the devastation, I felt a warm glow of pride. Al Quaeda couldn’t have done a better job.
There were blocks in every corner of the room, under every piece of furniture, and some had even made it behind the blinds.
We hadn’t witnessed this wanton act of vandalism – and thankfully, neither had his brother, who was upstairs at the time – but there was no question it was all his own work. His face had that ‘Job done’ look about it.
But then my wife and I remembered the pride and joy and artistic effort our oldest boy had put into that triangular sculpture – and we panicked.
If he were to see this, he’d be in therapy for the rest of his life. We can’t afford that, so something had to be done.
For two long hours, we tried and failed, tried and failed, to re-create the artwork that our lad had put his heart and soul into.
Eventually, we got there.
‘Phew!’ I said to my wife.
‘Phew, indeed,’ she replied.
And then we went to bed, smug and satisfied in the knowledge that we were Brilliant Parents and our son’s treasure had been restored.
Fast forward to the next morning.
‘What’s happened to my tower?’ our boy said, after breakfast.
‘Nothing, son. What do you mean?’
He surveyed it, suspiciously.
‘That pink brick was where the yellow brick is now. And that blue brick is where that green brick is now,’ he said, his voice dripping with annoyance.
And then, as quick as a flash, he swept his arm like a heavyweight boxer delivering a haymaker – and smashed the thing to pieces.
‘But what about your tower?’ I said, aghast.
‘It’s only plastic bricks, Dad,’ he replied. ‘You can throw them out if you like.’