Monday, 7 February 2011

How to outsmart Quicksilver Sam

Okay, trusty Planetarians, are any of you smiling already? Does the mere mention of *Quicksilver Sam* ring any bells? I can see some of you nodding over there. See here, here and here to refresh your memories. Ah, my darling, rambunctious, study-in-perpetual-motion 18 month old little bundle of energy struck again the other day. It all happened in 30 seconds. The older pixies climbed onto a chair, undid the deadlocked front door, let themselves out and pulled it shut. Or so they thought. Behind them, their eagle-eyed brother saw the door swing *ever so slightly* ajar and grabbed his opportunity. I was sorting out washing inside the house and then heard Joshua yell, “Sam’s crawling in the middle of the road!” Horrified, I raced out the door, clambered over the sunlounge-turned-barricade at the letterbox and tore up the street, scooping my (now angry-at-having-his-escape-plan-spoiled) crying son into my arms. This time, thank our lucky stars, there was no car involved. Can you hear my heart pounding still?

Ah, Houdini eat your heart out, thy name is now Sam.

Now enter Barry the Brilliant, a dear family friend, a builder who’s ‘retired’ but is now busier than ever. Mr PB’s parents visited him the other day and related the tale of the latest Great Escape by His Highness. The result? Barry offered to help us. He did a reconnaissance mission, at which time Sammy showed us something *else* he’d worked out by observing his siblings. How to squeeze between the verandah balustrades. Those very balustrades separating him from the road. And the cars. Great. Now another hazard to deal with!
For the past week, we have erected temporary obstacles which he has mostly managed to evade. Somehow. Seriously. I wonder whether he will become an engineer or a great problem-solver in later life.

You’re familiar with the sunlounge-turned-on-its-side barricade, of course (erected while we’ve been waiting for our landlord to grant us permission to do something more permanent). Notice the missing slats – it’s falling to pieces. Not the *sturdiest* barrier to Quicksilver, shall we say.
We’ve also had to block off the exit routes on either side of the car. So thus.
And thus. Note my rickety, 40 year old playpen *attempting* to play a role (and poorly at that). Often backed up by its supporters, the rubbish bins.
Now the practical Planetarians among you, especially the mums, I suspect, might just see what a *huge inconvenience* this arrangement proved. I had to remember to move the barricades so I could park the car at *just* the right angle without hitting them. Then I had to unload the pixies from the car and navigate our way around the treacherous obstacle course. Oh, and often race in to see the start of ‘Playschool’ – a task so important, not a second could be lost in running down, Sam on my hip and bags aplenty slung over my shoulders, and flinging open the front door.

Today Mr PB took the day off. The pixies were dropped off at daycare and my parents’ house. It was time for serious action on Planet Baby. Barry turned up with two lengths of fencing which almost completely matched the verandah’s balustrading. Bonus. They’d just been “lying around, taking up space so I’m pleased to get rid of them”. Gratis. A man of gold. And then Barry, Mr PB and Mr PB’s dad got cracking. Here are their superstar results.
Forget that rickety sunlounge, propped up precariously. In its place, a bolted-in fence. Here’s a close-up. Notice the chicken wire barricade fencing off the paving blocks which Master Quicksilver has been seen to climb. That should fix him!
Ah, such beauty. Almost enough to make me weep.

Turning around the corner to that precise spot where Quicksilver was in the top photo.
Chicken wire. For the entire length. Not pretty, not aesthetically pleasing, I know, but effective. And that is my bottom line.

Strolling back along the verandah, we approach the other escape route so proudly patronised by Master Quicksilver. And what greets our eyes?
A gate. A glorious gate. With the left hand-side fenced off to stymie my wriggler. Chained close enough to the fence on the right-hand side that Quicksilver can’t squeeze in between.

Let’s walk up the steps and sidestep to the right. What greets our eyes, dear Planetarians?
A fence. A sturdy fence. With room enough to park the car behind it so it’s still off the road. And leaving enough room to play backyard cricket. All ably supported by metal star pickets at both ends. No fussy concrete footings. We can just take it all with us when we vacate the property.

Now the public liability lawyer in me had to get involved, of course. Hence our rudimentary but effective caps on the star pickets.
Yes, old tennis balls slit and jammed tightly on top. No public liability claims forthcoming from neighbourhood children playing backyard cricket, thankyou very much!

So, today I thank Barry for his inventiveness, generosity, hard work, sagacity*and sheer brilliance in simply solving Planet Baby’s biggest problem – how to keep Quicksilver Sam off the road! Both Joshua and India have demonstrated to us, several times, their ability to use the chain properly. That’s the only possible weakness in our fortress that we can possibly foresee. At this stage. Just ask me tomorrow night!
* Playing along with sweet Felicity's Word of the Week.


  1. Oh Jane, how I know your pain! Those third borns are sooooo clever aren't they?? Show them once, and you're doomed :-)
    Meerkat actually found the correct key on hubby's key ring, and managed to get it inserted into the lock in the locked back door the other day. The onnly thing standing between her and freedom was a little hand strength!
    We are in sooo much trouble with that one!!
    Good luck!! I hope you are safe...for now :-)

  2. Oh Jane that story had me smiling to the very end! The third one does tend to grow up much faster I think. Best of luck, stay safe...and sane:)

  3. Oh, he sounds like my daughter. She is an escape artist and a half. At 4, she's worked out how the supposedly child proof locks at the primary school work and she can get into anything if she sets her mind on it.

  4. good work! I must say we were lucky this house has doors with high up handles and the back door has a latch at top and bottom so I block off certain rooms or lock the back door. With a pool we need strict monitoring of the kids at all times and regularly making sure there is no way to get in to the pool! But I must say my problem area was our stairs upstairs because the stairs have a sharp turn near the bottom and you can't get a gate was a hairy few months keeping them away from the stairs but thankfully they mastered getting down them and we are safe.......until elodie!

    good job! house safety can be a boring job but it's so essential!

  5. Oh I was laughing out loud at this one Jane! What a Houdini! I have grave fears for my little man too, he has just started to walk and is climbing on things... standing on the piano was his latest trick, as in, ON the keys.
    We are lucky to have a very very enclosed back garden, and unreachable locks on the front door, but if we move house I know I will be very worried.
    Rhi x
    ps. Pavlova momentarily delayed til Thursday. :)

  6. Oh my gosh, Jane. It scared me when your children said he was in the road. I'm glad everything worked out nicely. But from seeing your photos, you are very close to the road. I will have to go through and read quicksilver's other posts.

    Great read today, and you all have done a lot of work.

  7. Quicksilver Sam has met his match! Sigh of relief.
    xo Cathy

  8. I think this must
    be what held us back
    from having number three...
    oh yes, we thought about
    it...but never acted as
    we don't have your fortitude!
    Looks like you can relax a
    bit, now??? How wonderful
    to have handy and kind friends!
    xx Suzanne

  9. Jane I bet you feel a whole lot better looking at those barricades now. Hopefully you wont have to see Sam crawling across the road ever again!! What a worry! x

  10. Wow nice work and in one day too, impressive!!
    Hopefully you can relax a bit more now Jane, well, as much as one can with a little quicksilver like that around ;)

  11. Thank goodness he's caged - when I read he'd got out again I was going to call your landlord myself!!! A x

  12. WOWZA!! My heart was pounding reading about Sam on the road. I can only imagine how you were! Am glad that you have been able to find some solutions to trap Mr Houdini in!!

  13. Oh, Jane! Yes, thank goodness for Barry! I can only imagine the fear you've felt before this. I remember one day, as a teenager, looking out our fron window only to see my 3 year old brother riding his trike down the side of the main road, I was terrified!
    I hope these changes give you piece of mind and keep your little one in!

  14. Nice work Barry. We had a similar panic when we found our 3 rd child naked in the middle of the busy road out the front of our house. In no time we had double 6 foot gates made. I think we have only used them about a dozen times but it felt so much better.

  15. Ah Jane, your story makes me so glad I stopped at one. You do tell it beautifully though, I could visualise every step of "Quicksilvers" adventures.

    I'm glad you have solved your problem.

  16. My third little one is similar. I was hoping he would grow out of his runaway tendencies but he thinks it is all a big game. He's worked out how to open the gates, so I can't let down my guard when we're outside. The road is his holy grail for some reason! I hope your gates and fences will do the trick. xx

  17. Christ on a bike that story is enough to make a mother sweat, weep and roar all in the same 3 seconds! Little One is also a flight risk so I feel your pain. As we are now owner occupiers rather than renters here in The Shire we had to shell out last year for our own containment equipment. We now have a very nice picket fence enclosing the front.

    Great, except it took me 6 weeks to paint the fucker. And the street now listens to my chav-tastic bellowing down the street of "WILL YOU KIDS SHUT THE GATE".

    I'm real popular around The Shire.

    MD xx

  18. PS Don't forgot to let us know when the wee man figures out how to drag toys/pets/other kids towards the fence in order to attempt unauthorised leave from the premises.

    I swear this summer I'm considering a long length of rope attached to each child and the front door. Seriously, this must be the next step in logical good enough parenting???

  19. Ah, lovely ladies. I'm so pleased to know I'm not alone here! I do think there is something in the whole 'third child theory', though - they need to make themselves stand out ☺.

    And MD, I can see that becoming my constant refrain, too! J x


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, you gorgeous soul. You've just made my day! J x

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