The younger child issued us a warning today.
Let me first say that we weren’t intentionally neglecting her. Since she’s a child who really prefers being left alone, we thought we were doing fine by her; she had some time alone with the Little Einsteins while we each did some work upstairs. The older child flitted back and forth between the upstairs and downstairs like an A.D.D. bumblebee, so we asked her to give us status reports about the younger one’s behavior and mood.
“She’s fine, Daddy,” the older one said. “I think she’s sleeping.”
No, she wasn’t sleeping. She wasn’t quite being evil, either, but evil certainly was afoot. Notice was served to the parents: Keep it up, leave me alone for this long again, and you’ll live to regret it. Alternatively, you might not.
Her messages had all of the forethought and cunning of those Jacques Saunière initially left in the Lourve for Robert Langdon.  First was the diaper; I found the child lying naked on the floor (much in the manner M. Saunière himself was discovered), her diaper removed and resting a couple of feet from her head. The diaper, thankfully, was empty except for some urine; this was Warning One.
I could have had a toxic poop stew in there, Father, and could have used my butt like a big poop paintbrush. Consider yourself lucky.
I then turned and noticed Warning Two, which was actually her most devious as it called back to one of her most infamous (and messiest and mother-traumatizing) misadventures. The bottle of Cremora was on the floor in front of the television… unopened, but threatening. The child knew — she had gone to fetch the Cremora (don’t ask me how she knew where it was or how to get it, but she did), knowing the spine-tingling, nerve-jangling message it would send to her parents, especially her still-scarred O.C.D. mother.
I could have opened this and made it snow right here in the living room. But I didn’t. You remember that.
Warning Three was in a similar vein to Warning Two: an unopened tube of K-Y jelly sat menancingly on the coffee table. I don’t even know where we keep this stuff, yet the child had found it, had left it out in the open where she knew we’d see it — and would notice that it hadn’t been used to lubricate the rug.
Nothing is safe from me, Father. I know your secrets. You may think you can hide your little toys for a while, but I’ll find them eventually. Remember.
Honestly, I’m not sure what Warning Four meant: she’d removed one of the collapsible poles from the bag holding the tent we sometimes set up for the girls in the playroom. And she’d managed to un-collpase it, to extend it back to its full six feet and leave it on the kitchen floor; perhaps it was a dastardly trap, or part of one which she hadn’t had time to complete before the siren call of the Little Einsteins beckoned her to rejoin them.
God may work in mysterious ways… but I am more mysterious than God.
The final warning was by far the most disturbing. While I was collapsing the tent pole back down, I heard what sounded like a high, muffled barking. The barking clearly wasn’t Tommy, the great dumb dog who follows at the children’s heels hoping to catch the occassional falling Cheerio, and I didn’t think it was the older child, who was upstairs. I tiptoed carefully into the playroom, following the sound, looking amongst the scattered toys with trepidation, and then I saw it: hanging from the crossbeam of their easel was a stuffed mechanical puppy, blowing gently in the breeze from the open window, the string around its neck suspending it above the floor and causing it to bark over and over in a sad, strangled wheeze.
This time, the puppy, Father. Next time… you.
I surveyed her devious messages of mayhem and walked back into the living room. I looked down at this naked child, one arm a pillow behind her head, two fingers of the other hand stuck in her mouth in her common comfort gesture. She noticed me staring at her, and I’m sure she must have seen the fear in my eyes: she smiled wide around those two fingers and laughed, that beautiful laugh which normally tickles my soul… but on this early July afternoon, that laugh, that mellifluous, horrible laugh drained the blood from my face and made me shiver cold.
(This article was also posted at Mother Mirth, where the wife normally writes much more frequently and more eloquently about the children than I do. You should read her stuff. And I’m not just saying that because she could withhold sex from me if I didn’t. I swear.)
 If you didn’t find the opening to The DaVinci Code particularly cunning, feel free to substitute a pop-culture reference more to your liking. And tell me in the comments what it was so I can file it away for later plagiarism.