Charlie is a boy on a mission. That mission is to escape Hayes House at any cost. Maybe he was an inmate at Alcatraz in a past life, who knows? I can see the reasoning, there are days when I'd cheerfully escape from here, never to return.
We have safety gates, guards, and one of those playpens that opens up to form a long barrier of metal bars around the TV/Wii/Sky box etc. The front door and garden gate have to be kept locked at all times or he's off. Our home already resembles a high security prison.
First Charlie learnt how to open the safety gates. The solution to this was to cable-tie them shut. This means that everyone who enters Hayes House through the front door has to perform some kind of acrobatic display to get into the living room. It's OK for us but not so good when elderly relatives visit.
Then Charlie learnt to climb over the gates, hence the demise of the AV button and the regular disappearance of the Sky viewing card, along with Wii games used as Frisbees.
But the main problem with this is that Charlie can now get upstairs and into the bathroom and bedrooms. We've had Shampoo Art on the landing carpet, a recreation of a biblical flood in the bathroom, and a three-year-old in heavy drag make-up complete with hat and scarf after his latest expedition into the girls' bedrooms.
Not only this, he has figured out how to open the garden gate. Yesterday we only just caught him cycling off up the street on his little bike. When intercepted, he informed us that he was going to Johnny's Fun Factory.
After two escape attempts, a near miss with a disposable razor, and my threatening to buy a Charlie-sized cage, Stig finally decided a new approach was needed. Have you ever seen the film Labyrinth? That weird room near the end with the upside down staircases where all perspective is seriously messed up? This is fast becoming our home.
The only solution Stig could come up with so that Charlie can't escape, but the other kids can still get in and out of the living room, was to put a door handle at the top of the door. It couldn't be in the corner of the door as Charlie could stand on the windowsill and reach it so we have a brass (a-la-AV button) door handle smack bang in the middle of the top of our living room door...
Unfortunately Nicki can't reach this handle so a piece of plastic tubing now hangs from it on some very attractive orange cord. It looks like an emergency parachute toggle. It hangs down at just the right height for Nicki to reach, she merely has to yank down on it and the door will magically open.
The garden gate has had a similar treatment with more brass handles. Our house is beginning to resemble a retirement home from a parallel universe. You never know, maybe one day soon we'll have enough weird buttons and toggles that our house will rival Johnny's Fun Factory for amusement value and the little sod will choose to stay here voluntarily!