GatesOur house is like a prison.

We have glass gates to the kitchen, dining room and Flower Girl’s room. We also have outside locks on the doors to the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms and all the bedrooms, including mine. For some reason we also lock the front door from the inside during the day. I can’t get into the kitchen unless it’s meal time or unless I’m on my way through into the garden… but then I have to get someone to help me undo all the silly locks. The living room, hall, stairs, landing and my bedroom are fairly easy to get to most of the time, but even then I usually have someone following me around.

What’s going on? Everyone else is allowed to come and go as they please, why not me? I watch them over the gates and think how much easier everyone’s life would be if we were all able to go wherever we wanted. For instance, I’ve spent hours watching Frowny doing the cooking and she’s always having to rush about between cupboards and drawers, opening and closing the oven and the fridge… it’s just not very efficient. If she allowed me to help her I could start by emptying all of the cupboards so that she’d never have to go hunting at the back for all those jars and tins and packets that have gone out of date. In fact I could help her with that problem too by opening them all and making sure they tasted ok.

Then I’d open the drawers and get out all of the knives, forks and spoons for her. And I’ve watched her chopping up vegetables with tiny little knives – takes her ages and I know for a fact that she keeps this whopping great big knife like a sword in the bottom drawer which would get through all the cutting jobs in no time at all.

She also spends ages sorting out all my medicines for me. Hours and hours taking all the little pills out of the packets and putting them in separate bowls. Ages spent with syringes sucking up all the medicines from different bottles… all pointless. I reckon if we just took them all out at the same time it wouldn’t take me more than 20 minutes to munch through the lot. Job done.

As for the bathrooms, don’t get me started. Every day they’re endlessly turning the taps on and off, on and off, on and off… crazy. Whenever I get anywhere near any taps I just turn them both on full then never have to deal with them again. So much time saved.

In fact it’s the same story all over the house. In mine and Curly Top’s bedrooms we both have boxes, baskets and cupboards full of toys. Well you can’t very well play with them like that can you? Do you see where I’m going with this?

In the living room I used to see Frowny lifting up vases, picture frames and other bits and pieces so she could do the dusting (I even saw Smiley doing this once, but it was a very long time ago), so whenever I see ornaments on any surface – wherever I am – I try to help by pushing them all onto the floor for her. It’s surprising how delicate some of those ornaments are; sometimes they break and have to be thrown away, so I like to think that’s another good deed I’ve done in pointing this out. Actually now I come to think of it I haven’t had to do much of this in our house for a long time so she’s obviously starting to realise how silly ornaments are in the first place.

At my school and at some of those places where I go to play at weekends they have lots of doors with flashing lights and beepy-buzzy things on them. But they don’t work very well because sometimes they let one person go through and sometimes they don’t. They seem to work better with two people so I usually go and get someone and put their hand on the handle to see if we can go through together. But even then they don’t always work.

If a door is left open I can never resist going through to see if I can get a snack for myself. A couple of times I’ve found doors open to the outside and in those cases I have a little wander to see if I can find a garden with a bouncy castle or a paddling pool. Usually all I find is lots of cars whizzing by, but within a minute I always bump into someone I know… how weird is that? In fact they often turn up in groups of two or three; all the attention can be a bit embarrassing at times but I do my best to live with it.

But the gate thing at home started a long time ago. When I was very little we used to have these baby prison gate things which were frustrating at first, but as I grew bigger I realised that with a bit of determination (and a lot of rattling) I could just pull them off. If this failed I could just lean on them until they collapsed. Smiley got wise to this and started attaching them to the door frames with big screws, but when I was a little bit taller I found I could lean right over, lift my feet and pivot over the top… not the best idea I’ve ever had – because it involved landing on my head or my face – but very effective.

Then one day we had a visit from a man with a clipboard who went round the house looking at all the doors and making funny sighing and tutting noises. He said “wood” and Smiley said that was no good because I would climb up it. I didn’t know what he meant by that but it hardly sounded like a bad thing. Then clipboard man said “metal?” but Frowny said she wasn’t having that because it would look like a prison. I quickly lost interest in the conversation and wandered off, but a few weeks later I came home and there were glass gates everywhere.

At first I wasn’t very keen because I kept walking into them and banging my head, and they were no good for climbing because they were too slippery. After a while I got used to them and found that they were very good for making dribbly patterns on, which has been particularly nice for Frowny because its given her something to polish after she lost all the ornaments.

There’s a bit of a problem with opening and closing them though; for some reason clipboard man only put doorknobs on the inside, which didn’t seem very efficient because it meant the grown-ups had to keep reaching over the gates to open them. As soon as I was tall enough I thought it would be a good idea to help by reaching over and opening all the gates myself, but one day when I came back from school all of the doorknobs had disappeared. Spooky. Drives them all mad when the doorbell goes or the phone’s ringing and they’re on the wrong side.

Now everyday I have to watch this ridiculous situation where every time anyone wants to go in or out of a room they have to argue with each other about who’s got the doorknob in their pocket or where they put it when they last had it. Sometimes Curly Top is locked in the living room with one of his friends and he calls for the toilet: Frowny flaps around in the kitchen, eventually finds the doorknob for the gate, opens it, locks it behind her, unlocks the living room door to let Curly Top out, re-locks it behind him, unlocks the bathroom door to let him in, locks it behind him, then has to go through the whole process in reverse to get back into the kitchen. The world’s gone mad.

The solution seems obvious to me, just take off all the gates and get rid of the locks on the doors. But you try telling them that and do you think they’d listen?

You just can’t help some people.


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