The triplets have had a see-saw in their back garden for as a long as I’ve lived in the house next door. They have a lot of toys really, but most of the other ones they play with are designed for individual use. I suppose this is because three-year-olds readily fight one another over the colour of snot, so there is no sense in putting a shared toy into the middle of that.

In my time as their neighbour I have only seen them use the see-saw once, and it was a complete disaster. In hindsight, I have broken the components of why it was a disaster into handy steps for future use. I feel these should probably be incorporated into the small print of any kind of shared garden-based kids toy.

  1. Do not put the see-saw on top of an elevated wooden platform. Sure, I understand that you may want your garden to look nice and have an area for BBQ’s, but seriously a see-saw doesn’t belong on it. It belongs on something soft which has been heavily screwed down onto.
  2. Do not put the see-saw in the corner of said wooden platform, where one seat backs onto the hard, brick garden wall. This will almost certainly cause whoever is sat on that seat to repeatedly hit the wall.
  3. Do not use the see-saw in the rain. Just, do not. No.
  4. Has it been raining? If the answer to this is anything other than “absolutely fucking not” then do not use the see-saw.
  5. Do not provide two seats for a brood of three kids. This is never going to work. In the long sad history of bad ideas, this is the worst. Especially when the three kids in question are the hell-spawn.

“The Bike Phenomenon”

I strongly believe that, as someone who is forced to endure whatever the latest toddler fad the neighbours have been obsessed with, I should get a say in whether they are allowed to be bought their own copies of said fad.

They have been through a few fads in their short and chaotic lives: space hoppers, skipping ropes, little green squidgy balls (which probably have a name but I am too old to know what it is). Of the three, the latter caused the most damage to the triplets. It turns out you can really hurl a small squidgy ball in a garden enclosed by walls and fences, and you will probably hit everyone including yourself thanks to the power of physics*.

Bikes have been a popular fad for children basically since time began. They’re right up there with fire, sliced bread and Furby’s. For the triplets however, bikes are literally the most intoxicating and magical things in their existence. We quite often encounter the triplets being herded into their car (which is usually parked outside the front of their garage) while we are either returning to or leaving our own garage. This is because we have a garage full of bikes which are used to go places. It is sort of the primary use for a bike.

The proximity of our bikes to the hell-spawn has resulted in some odd phenomena, ‘the bike phenomenon’.

Stage one of the bike phenomenon begins with slow, quiet jabbering among themselves. This occurs in the early minutes of first seeing the bike and knowing that it is there and that it exists on this mortal plane. Presumably the jabbering aims to inform the others of the change in events, so that they may all move on to the next stages in unison.

Stage two follows once enough primary jabbering has been achieved. By now they all know that there is a real-life bike nearby and it almost certainly exists and is bigger than them. It might even be red. This is where they begin the bike chant: they each start saying the word ‘bike’ quietly and repeatedly, while exchanging looks with one another, and then back to the bike.

Bike, bike, bike

Stage three begins when enough excitement has been generated by the bike chant. This is apparent by the increase in volume of the bike chant. A bike is here, and that is fucking exciting. They are convinced that they have never seen a bike before, despite the fact that they almost certainly see one nearly every week.


The ultimate phase of the bike phenomenon happens when the sheer exhilaration of the bike becomes too much for mere mortals to bear. They simply must be as near as possible to the bike, and/or touch it, to glean its magical powers. As one they will begin to shuffle towards the bike from all directions. This makes it incredibly hard for us to go about our business (opening the garage and stowing the bike away). As they close in their chant morphs into the phrase ‘Big bike. It’s a big bike’, as if they had little to no spatial perception of the dimensions of the bike before they came within close proximity.

Thus, it becomes a race against time to get the bike into the garage, and to shut the door as quickly as possible. The mounting unease which is generated by unison chanting is disconcerting, and frankly, odd. As is their sheer wonder at a bike – which they see a lot. I suppose it’s good for them to be excited by something other than hitting one another, but I can’t help but wonder whether its healthy.


*I would like to mention that at no point did they stop to consider the physics behind that particular situation – they just kept lobbing the squidgy balls at high speeds around the garden while simultaneously crying. Much like the space hoppers, really.

The Three B’s: Bells, Birthdays and Bikes

This morning I was awoken by such a cacophony of bells it could only be attributed to the hunch-back of Notre Damme on crack.

I had had several extremely long weeks of work – the kind where sleep is lacking – and had been looking forward to having a morning off. Predictably this was snatched away from me by the neighbour’s triplets.

The intense ringing was high pitched, grating, and my fucking god was it tenacious. I laid in bed for a while wondering if it was even worth finding out what new toy they had, for surely sooner or later it would penetrate my life and I would come to resent it more and more each day. After 20 minutes of bell-ringing had gone by, showing no signs of stopping, I decided to get up and take a look.

I was horrified to find my predictions had come true. Someone had bought the triplets their very own bikes, equipped with bells. Individual bells.

Loud, individual bells.

As far as I could tell it was their birthday. This was tenuous link to make, as all I had to go on was some smeared icing across Thrasher’s face, a bedraggled grandparent in the corner of the garden, and a giant deflated balloon which had been burst and now remained slumped on the floor while the kids ran over it in their new death machines.

The only consolation was the fact that all of the adults seemed to be having as hard of a time dealing with this new development as I was.

Each parent added their shouting to the chorus of bells, while each grandparent meekly tried to swerve out of the kids paths. It was the sort of present a distant aunt would bestow on young children; to the kids this was literally the best day of their short lives, to the adults this present would cripple them if they couldn’t find a way to dismantle and/or destroy it. Cool Aunt would remain cool whatever the outcome was.

With my intended lie-in ruined I blearily moved downstairs into the living room. This is a good tactic when there is a particularly immense amount of noise coming from the garden, as the back door leading to our garden has a conservatory which acts as a welcome extra buffer for sound. Much to my dissatisfaction, the pitch of the bells managed to ring throughout the living room, too.

I hastily dressed and headed out of the house. My entire day was preoccupied by working out potential ways to somehow remove the bikes from my life. And, so, by the time the day was over I had achieved no work, but had a lot of budding ideas.

Hive Mind

Sometimes, I cannot help but consider the possibility that the neighbour’s triplets may have some sort of mental connection with one another, which others cannot fathom.

Occasionally they will interact with one another in such a way where I pause and think ‘this is what great and inspirational science fiction writers have been trying to communicate, this might be our future as a race’… and then one will promptly punch another in it’s face, and the magic breaks.

These rare moments of insight are amusing nonetheless.

They don’t last long, and are usually focused on a task or trying to convey a message to each other. Today’s moment of insight is centered on cornering the Geranium pot-plant in the garden.

This has gone way over my head, because the Geranium is already in a corner. I also have little idea why. As far as I can recall it has always been in that corner, and there has been no real reason for them to suddenly turn against it.

But against it they have turned.


Today I had dedicated my entire day to getting on with some housework, because I am a lazy person and try and do all of it on one day.

If it cannot fit into that day it has to be shunned to housework day next week instead. This is a self-perpetuating feedback loop of never quite getting enough cleaning done, but fuck it. I have a life, and only 0.43% of that is caring about cleaning. My housemate was also working from home today, which he tends to do once or twice every fortnight.

As we were both stood in the living room we heard a peculiar sound. It was one we hadn’t heard before. It was loud, sounded like it was formed of many things, and had fairly short bursts of noise.

It sounded a bit like Godzilla with constipation.

Instantly we knew the cause of it – the neighbour’s triplets – but it was a question of what exactly they were doing. We stood and listened for a little while longer before concluding that we had no sodding idea what was going on. Upon running up to the second floor and looking out over the garden we located the source of the noise.

Thrasher was scooping up all of the gravel from the garden into a plastic bucket. The problem with this was that the gravel was around the edges of the neighbour’s garden, packed in to fill the gaps between the flower pots and the fence. And it was fancy garden gravel. The kind that are a dull purple colour which all middle aged Mum’s think is a nice addition to the skirting boards, when really everyone else wants to shout ‘no-one cares about the skirting boards, no-one will even see them, we are not paying more money just so people can not see them’.

With his newly mined gravel, Thrasher then climbed the steps of the large plastic slide. He dumped the entire bucket of gravel down the slide, where it gathered at the bottom covering a series of the hell-spawn’s toys. He repeated this until all of the toys were obscured, where upon he sat at the top of the slide admiring his handiwork.

Godzilla had taken a shit, and it was a good one.


The neighbour’s triplets have been awfully quiet today. For a while I had even assumed that they weren’t in the house at all. 

I briefly looked out the window to see what the weather was like and caught a glimpse of Arsehole standing motionless in front of the lovely blossoming geraniums.

I paused to ponder why Arsehole was being so… subdued.

 After a few minutes he turned around, deathly silent. In his right hand he held a tube of red lipstick, clearly belonging to Mum. In his left, he held a tampon.

The child was eating the lipstick. The entire tube of lipstick.

Deciding that I would not be the one to deal with this I settled back down to work and waited with baited breath for Mum to notice Arsehole in the garden.


Screamer – one of the neighbour’s triplets – has been sat outside for a solid 7 minutes today without crying.

I’m fairly sure that this is some kind of record. It has probably been made possible only by the small jigsaw puzzle holing its piscine-like attention. The puzzle isn’t particularly hard, even for a three year old, which is probably one of the reasons it has been frustrating for me to observe.

I mean, its 8 pieces. I’m fairly sure a team of amoeba with good teamwork skills and coordination could complete it.

In the background Arsehole has been observing Screamer’s progress. Occasionally it looked around as if it were expecting there to be more noise or shoving going on, but there wasn’t, which has caused it to remain motionless for some time. Feeling a sense of serenity spreading over the garden, Arsehole has decided that this will not do, and clearly has a plan. First thing’s first, it needs to take it’s shoes off: that is the first step in pissing Mum off. Secondly, it calls out to Thrasher to come into the garden. This sounded much like:

‘AAAAAAAaaahhhhaHAhHHHHaA….AAAAAaaaaahhhh….GAaaaarden’. (Apparently we have all been communicating with three year olds incorrectly, because for some reason this worked with immediate effect).

Thrasher observed the scene. It observed the toy motorbike to the left of Screamer. It paused to put two and two together, and then looked at Arsehole. Thus ensued the shittiest 10-metre dash I have ever witnessed. Each child held on to the other’s clothes as if it would somehow stop their limbs from moving. The strength of their pulling dragged them both to the floor in front of the toy motorbike, wailing and unable to stand-up, which gave Screamer enough time to work out what was happening.

Unfortunately, this was not enough time to hide the puzzle.

True to his name, Thrasher managed to flail his way free from his stalemate and straddle the motorbike. With purpose he rode over the puzzle, disconnecting the only two pieces that were attached. The rest of the pieces scattered, and the two hellspawn who were not on the motorbike began to wail in unison.

After half an hour of crying at Mum, Screamer has taken precautionary steps to avoid the puzzle being destroyed in the near future. The misguided child has stuffed all of the pieces into the nearest pot-plant (a lovely geranium in mid-spring flower) who was apparently idle and represented the best choice for a secure stash.

The newly adorned geranium sits in all its glory, with bits and pieces of a Spongebob Square Pants puzzle sticking out at jaunty angles amongst bright flowers. Nature is so beautiful.