It's just a bit of fun, that's all. Knock on the door, ring the bell, rattle the letterbox then run like fury. Stop at the corner, watch the face of the woman who gets to the door, laugh loudly so she knows it was you, then run some more. All good fun right? Never hurt anyone, right?
Well, let me tell you a bit about what happens here in this house when you do that. See, thre's one girl in this house who is hypervigilant. Any noise when she's going to sleep causes her to bolt awake again, panicking, in case Mummy is about to disappear. She's adopted. Whilst she was never abused or neglected, I am her third Mummy. The first one grew her well, nurtured her in her womb for nine months, probably dreamed of her precious new baby. But my daughter didn't go hoe with her. She spent a few months in hospital, then went home with a new Mummy, one who loved her and cared for her, and kept her safe until her forever Mummy could be found. And then she came home with me. And it doesn't matter that all three of those Mummies loved and love her; deep in her soul there's an injury; an abandonment, the conviction that I will one day walk away and she will be on her own.
Every time the door opens - and she can hear the handle turn in her deepest sleep, so deep rooted is this fear - she thinks that's it. She wakes up, scared, needing reassurance. She hears the voice of our visitor, recognises a friend or carer, smells the takeaway I may have ordered, and accepts that this time, it is ok. I am going nowhere, and she can sleep again.
But then you knocked. Who is there? No one. She doesn't understand that. Two boys playing a silly game. She definitely doesn't understand that. She is suspicious; this must be a trick. This time, this really was the time when I was going to walk out, only she has caught me out by waking up. She'd better stay awake all night, in case I try again. And she'd better call out regularly, just checking I am still there.
And then I have an other girl. This one has epilepsy. Loud noises give her fits. Friends, family, carers, they all know to let themselves in quietly if she's gone to bed. So your fusillade was hugely unsettling. Seizures, electrical discharges misfiring through the chaotic caverns of her brain. A stack of fireworks being set off in a small box. Killing off random braincells - and she doesn't have all that many to spare. Epilepsy kills. There's a chance one day that she won't come out of one of these seizures.
And so as I stand at the door, and I see your laughing faces, before you turn around and run off, I don't give you the satisfaction of even thinking about giving chase. I close the door, quietly, and try to reassure one child whilst moving things out of the way of the other, calling out to one girl so that she knows I haven't disappeared whilst piling pillows up against the hard sides of the other's bed, giving her space as her limbs thrash uncontrollably. And then, noting the time, in case I have to give emergency medications or tell a paramedic later, I leave her in her seizure and go to calm the hysteria.
Do you get a bigger laugh out of that?