For a long time now, I have known the importance of checking the laundry basket for foreign objects, lurking there, waiting to infiltrate the whites wash and do their worst.
Among the various items I have found are: a sausage roll; felt tip pens (one red, one purple); and (doesn't bear thinking about) a handful of blackberries. While I've never actually seen how these objects get there, whittling my list of two suspects down to one culprit was not hard; given that the objects were not damp with slime ("I'll lick that to see what it's made of") Ruby is off the hook.
Just recently though, Ava has been squirrelling things away to strange places even more frequently and with increasing mischievousness.
The other week I was taking 10 mins, while the babies slept, to (usefully for my mental state) stare inanely at the other side of the room whilst trying hard not to think about all the things I had spectacularly managed to not achieve so far that day. And through the fug of non-thinking, it dawned on me that my knee-high boot was looking uncharacteristically perky. It usually lolls about in a pile of soft, leathery laziness, but that day it was standing to attention – having been stuffed with 15 multi-coloured plastic balls and a single piece of Emmental.
When, another day, I spotted my jewellery box lying empty on my bedroom floor, there was no flash of panic that we might have been robbed (admittedly, not least because if anyone ever did break in, they'd probably take one look and think we'd been turned over already).
I didn't even attempt to start the hunt with Ava looking on. I felt it would have given her far too much pleasure had she been witness to me eventually (one-and-a-half days later) discovering all my earrings and bracelets stuffed into one of Dan's socks and put into her own sock drawer.
She really took me to the brink of insanity with the amazing vanishing wallet trick though. I'd like to say at this point, I do have those conversations with Ava about having respect for other people's belongings, and that there are some things she really shouldn't touch and so on. But, as this instance illustrated, I think sometimes her imagination just carries her away.
So I had the girls all dressed up for the cold weather, with fleeces, coats and shoes on, ready to head out to the supermarket (no mean feat). But when I grabbed my handbag, it felt too light.
"Ava, have you moved mummy's wallet?"
"And where have you put it?"
"Ummmmmmm. In here...?"
Nope. As I already knew, it was not in my handbag, where she really should have replaced it having robbed me.
After 15 mins of searching, all coats came off. Another 20 minutes later, so did the fleeces and the girls, who had forgotten we were ever supposed to be going out, were systematically emptying the book shelf while I carried on. An hour later, having tried all the favourite hiding places (down the side of the sofa, behind the TV, in the log basket) and asking Ava several times to please (pleeeease!) try to remember what she had done with it (and it seemed she genuinely could not), I gave up.
As it turned out, it was with some irony that we all sat down to a supper of fish fingers (thank goodness for emergency fish fingers, Ruby would have been eating the furniture otherwise). Because when I did find my wallet, after the girls had gone to bed, it had been filleted, stuffed and cooked to perfection in Ava's toy kitchen.
The innards (receipts, old train tickets and such) had been discarded in the sink. The coins had been stirred and boiled on the hob. The credit cards had been put in the toaster. And the wallet itself had been stuffed with four raisins, placed on a baking tray along with a plastic lemon, and was slow baking in the oven.
That I never, ever see Ava get up to her tricks is still a bit of a mystery. That she manages to get her hands on these grown-up things is not – I can't be cross when I really should just try harder to keep them out of temptation's reach, lest they transform (in her mind) from important 'mummy things' to bona fide ingredients.
And 'A Trio of Wallet with a Citrus Jus'? Well, she'll either grow up to be a pickpocket or a Master Chef champion but I have a feeling, wherever my gorgeous girl and her culinary imagination end up, life will never be dull.
If you've missed previous week's instalments of Terrible Twos, you can catch up here.
Have your children gone through the hiding things phase? Any advice to share?