Our neighbour a couple of doors up is a sweet lady of mature years. I don't know her very well, but last time I spoke to her, a couple of months ago, she told me how adorable she thinks the girls are, and how lovely she finds it to hear them playing in the garden.
This bears no relation whatsoever to the problem we are currently having with squirrels, other than the fact that they and Ava between them have almost certainly made said neighbour question what sort of family we really are.
You see, among the (seemingly) thousands of squirrels who take great pleasure in digging up the lawn, flowerbeds and planters, is a mummy squirrel who appears to be teaching her offspring all the greatest tricks she knows.
While Ruby takes huge pleasure (whoops and squeaks aplenty) in watching them ransack the place, Ava – being much more responsible at the age of almost-three – has taken great umbrage to these mischievous creatures coming and causing the havoc they do, burying their nuts and conkers.
So, when Ava saw Mrs Squirrel the other day, digging a pit by the rose bush, she belted out through the open kitchen door and fronted up to her.
She bellowed: "You NAUGHTY MUMMY!"
I was inside quietly chuckling at the squirrel who had not moved at all, bar cocking its head to one side to listen.
"GET OUT! You KNOW you NOT allowed this garden..."
This was the point I noticed my neighbour at the end of her garden two doors down, who could not have seen little Ava or Mrs Squirrel behind the mature foliage closer to the house, but must have been hearing every word.
...and listen 'kay, stop giving us NUTS. We don't LIKE nuts and..."
...and here comes the best bit. The squirrel ran, fast, a bit towards Ava, before leaping over the little fence. Ava shrieked – not a little shriek, but the sort of long, drawn out, blood-curdling shriek that would make a character in a Miss Marple novel drop a teacup.
Then: "I'm ring THE POLICE!"
Now, I had a conversation a little while ago with Ava explaining there is a special number you can telephone in an emergency. She took 'emergency' to mean, for example, if she lost Pink. Or (for the ambulance service) if Pink got squashed.
I actually thought that she could only equate 'emergency' with some tragedy that might befall Pink and so I left it, thinking we'd go there again later. I never at any point suggested that an obstinate squirrel which runs amok in your garden before having the audacity to come within three feet of you and then leg it before you have finished telling it off, might constitute a reason to call the old bill.
She didn't actually ring them of course, but that's besides the point. I think the more concerning part of this story is my neighbour's probable conclusion that I had been banned from the property, perhaps some kind of restraining order for force feeding my children nuts, and that I was about to be carted away in cuffs.
I haven't seen her since, but I am fully expecting averted eyes and raised eyebrows.