They found the spade, and in a fit of creative parenting I allowed then to use it.
The decision was neither particularly altruistic nor brave for several reasons:
- they wanted to play in the garden, outdoors, together
- they had a plan which meant I would not be required as mediator
- we have a hosepipe ban here
- the back lawn is 90% buttercups anyway
- and rock solid
- and where they wanted to dig there is not so much of a topsoil as a scraggly layer of grass and roots,
- over a lucky dip of builders rubble, before
- 6 to 12 inches down you hit solid chalk
Nonetheless the children were happy and involved for a good hour. I watched son hold the spade still whilst daughter jumped on it like a pogo stick, furiously bouncing up and down in an effort to make an indent in the 'soil'. I watched them switch to the fork instead.
Eventually they decided that, once they had a hole, they were going to bury things in it. They came back indoors to clear this with me, and the plan they settled on was to have a burial today and an archaeological dig tomorrow.
They went off indoors to discover and discuss possible candidates for internment. Son returned to request permission to specifically bury a few plastic toy soldiers plus a couple of batteries as a 'scientific experiment' to see what happens to batteries buried overnight. Daughter then added a Hama bead picture to the list, so that one of the things would be hers.
I managed to keep a straight face until they selected a tomb from the cartons, boxes and tins that son's smaller toys inhabit. Action Man shoes, toy bullets, micro machines and beyblade parts all require storing away from the general melee of, for example, scalectrix parts, and they need very small containers. I therefore fully expected the dastardly duo to fashion something out of a small margarine tub. Yes, okay you heard it here first, I don't buy mini designer storage boxes; I wash out margarine tubs, but as Murphy's law reigns in this household, the cheaper an item is, the longer it seems to last.
Twenty minutes later, after much scrabbling around for items such as daughter's fancy art-and-craftsy holographic sellotape, they emerged clutching a 2kg commercial Nescafe tin with a fancy paper lid; complete with a flag clearly bearing the logo that picked it out as a letter from school. Right.
They gave up on the hole, finding themselves able to widen it but not add to the three inch depth, stood the tin in it leaving 70% poking out, then called us outside for a funeral.
Doctor (something scientific), our presiding minister explained, was being buried following cremation, hence the odd shaped tin and the fact that his remains closely resembled batteries, plastic soldiers and a Hama bead concoction.
The grieving widow added that the Hama bead picture was very important as it probably wasn't part of the Doctor's personal modifications, but more likely to be his top secret experiment, which he took it everywhere with him and therefore would have been in his pocket.
And she hopes no one digs him up.
The minister closed by adding that the Doctor had been safely buried so now we could all go indoors and relax in peace.
Barring some misbehaviour by the older of the two conscripted mourners, who attended much of the service facing in the wrong direction and trying not to chuckle, everything went very well.
A memorial plastic sun chair was then placed over the grave, in case of rain.