My son lost my keys, but I’m still a little impressed how he did it... | Steve Canavan

My son is a cretin.Now some people might think it harsh to publicly denounce my offspring in this manner.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 4:57 pm
It's unlikely Steve will be letting Wilf play with his car keys again any time soon. Picture by Shutterstock

But rest assured if he somehow did contact a big-shot firm, I’d still win because he is indisputably an idiot.

After all, he’s only two and doesn’t have the means to hire a lawyer and sue me for defamation.

The reason I say this is because the other day he left me without car keys, house key, work office key, and several other keys of varying importance.

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Let me explain.

In recent weeks he – Wilf – has developed a fondness for playing with my car keys (attached to which, on a key ring, are all the other keys too) and wanders the house shouting: ‘Daddy‘s keys, me drive’ over and over again, pretty much 12 hours a day.

He’s either going to grow up to be a Formula One driver or a lunatic. More likely the latter.

Anyway, Mrs Canavan was out somewhere (she’s taken to running four times a week with an athletic-looking chap up the street called Peter; after the jog they go back to his house for a warm-down – I’ve no idea what that entails but she seems in very good spirits when she returns home) and it was a pleasant evening, so I thought it a nice idea to have a little picnic-style tea in the back garden with Wilf and his four-year-old sister Mary.

I noticed him playing with my keys – nothing new there, so no concern – but then I took my eye off them and concentrated on the usual tea-time routine of trying to force-feed Mary a spoonful at a time of spaghetti bolognese and her dramatically pulling a face and pretending to vomit while complaining it was the ‘worst thing I’ve ever eaten’, despite the fact she has eaten spaghetti bolognese pretty much weekly for the last four years.

I bathed them and put them to bed, then slumped on the sofa before, about half-10, realising I needed something from my car.

The keys weren’t in the usual place (on the bookshelf by the front door, in case any thieves are reading).

I half-heartedly mooched around, assuming they’d turn up, and then realised, with a vivid flashback, Wilf had been playing in the back garden with them.

Our garden is 10 feet long and wide at best, so as I stepped into the night, armed with torch, I felt no sense of alarm. The keys would be there and I’d be reunited with them.

I was wrong.

I kid you not that I was in the garden for almost an hour, by the end of which time I was on my hands and knees combing the grass with more care and precision than a team of highly trained officers conducting a fingertip search for body parts.

But to no avail, I couldn’t find them.

‘Oh, don’t worry – they’ll turn up’, said Mrs Canavan, with complete disinterest.

‘Wow, that’s incredibly helpful – thanks for your concern,’ I shot back, like a petulant teenager told they can’t go out with their friends on Saturday but must instead attend a surprise 90th birthday party for their aunt.

‘Well perhaps you shouldn’t let a two-year-old play with your keys,’ retorted Mrs C. Which annoyed me further because she was clearly absolutely right.

Aware I couldn’t get to work in the morning and, even if I did, couldn’t get inside my office, I went to bed late and in bad spirits.

But it was on my mind and I couldn’t sleep, so, at just gone one, I got up and began another hunt.

Indeed my neighbours, if they’d looked out of their windows in the early hours of last Tuesday, may have been surprised, and no doubt alarmed, to see a middle-aged man wearing a T-shirt and underpants, brandishing a spotlight and rummaging through his own flowerbed.

I searched the entire house, during which time, while creeping round Wilf’s bedroom on hands and knees, I bent to look under a wardrobe and smacked my head on his changing table. I let out a loud groan, which woke him up and he started crying.

This was a low moment.

Despite all this I located no keys and eventually fell asleep sometime around 4am, exhausted and unhappy.

The next morning I had an epiphany. Wilf might have thrown them in the kitchen bin. I marched into my son’s room, where he was in his cot, and said: ‘Wilf, where did you put daddy’s keys? Are they in the bin?’

‘Yes, keys in bin,’ he replied.

I rummaged through all that had been chucked in there in the last couple of days, including cat sick, leftover spaghetti bolognese and – and I was really pleased about this – a dirty nappy Mrs Canavan had thrown in (a complete no-no as every parent knows – soiled nappies must be put either in nappy bags or in the outside bin, for god’s sake).

I found no keys and withdrew my disgustingly filthy toxic hands, feeling rock bottom.

‘Daddy’s keys weren’t in the bin,’ I said to Wilf.

‘No, daddy’s keys not in bin’, he replied.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt such disdain towards another human.

The upshot is I had to get the train to work and my boss came in specially to let me into my own office.

That evening, after another fruitless search of house and garden, and me repeatedly muttering: ‘I just can’t understand it,’ while also contemplating putting Wilf up for adoption, our neighbour’s head popped above the fence and she cheerily said: ‘I’ve found these in my garden – they’re not yours are they?’

My two-year-old had somehow – and despite my fury I can’t help but be slightly impressed by this – lobbed a bunch of quite heavy keys over a five-foot fence.

I thanked my neighbour profusely, refused to sing Twinkle Twinkle to Wilf as a punishment, and have now put the keys in a never-to-again-be-found-by-bloody-kids place.