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My daughter is going through a phase. It’s just the age, people tell me. She’ll grow out of it. Thing is, I’m not so sure it is just a phase. I think it’s all part of a much grander, devious scheme. You’d think I’m talking about some evil, megalomaniac genius here with what I’m about to say. And to that I’d say ‘Oh, so you’ve met my daughter then?’.


So what’s the phase? Collecting small-to-medium sized stones, filling her pockets with them and then ‘redistributing’ them in useful areas such as car seats, cups, your pockets and in bed (s). What I think her actual plan is: to dig a tunnel with her fellow nursery pupils, so that they can escape from nursery whenever they want.


This occurred to me the other day, after I’d collected her from her maternelle (the French name for nursery) and picked up her coat, as she got out of the car. This is heavy, I thought to myself. I soon realised why, as stone after stone fell out, forming piles on the car park floor. You may think I’m exaggerating by describing it like this, but it looked liked someone was staging a mock-recreation of The Blair Witch’s burial mounds. And that was after a good handful had been left in her seat as well. She just grinned at me, in a slightly sinister all-I’m-lacking-is-a-white-cat-to-stroke kind of way.


Blofeld ain’t got nothing on her, you wait and see.


The neighbour saw me, said hello and looked at what I was doing. I explained the stone-fetish. ‘It’s just the age’ she said to me.


Except she didn’t say it like that – in English – because she’s French.


So a few stones, OK, I get that. But these quantities? It’s been over a week since those stones were left on our – relatively busy – car park and they’re still there, they have strength in numbers you see. Either that or people actually think if they move them the Blair Witch of the car park will get them and…I don’t know, scratch their cars? Adjust their seats? Tune their radio-stations to a channel that plays Clean Bandit’s Symphony on an endless loop?


I can just picture her though, sat in a chair while drinks are brought to her, hunched over her tunnel-plans, gaining favour amongst her peers with her scheme to tunnel to the playground. All the while hiding this in plain sight by having all the kids ‘redistribute’ the displaced stones in useful areas that they will blend in to with ease, such as baths, stairs, inside shoes and underneath car brake pedals. She’ll egg them on with promises of slides, sunshine, fun and games and no adults around.


All the while hatching her master plan.


To have the tunnel emerge in the local chocolatier’s parlour…


I’m sure I’m wrong though, it’s probably just a phase. That’s what everybody keeps telling me anyway…