I am putting the six-year-old to bed when we hear an almighty scream.
We rush downstairs and discover the twelve-year-old, in a state of distress.
“There’s a man in the tree-house”, she exclaims.
The mother emerges.
“Are you sure dear? I’ll go check.”
She grabs a cricket bat, heads into the garden, screams, returns and says: “Call the police, there’s a homeless man living in our tree-house.”
The six-year-old looks at me, wide-eyed.
“It’s Max!” she screams
“Shhh,” I plead.
“Who’s Max?” asks the mum.
“No-one,” I say.
“He’s our frien-”
“He’s no-one!” I snap.
The mother raises an eye-brow and begins dialling.
The six-year-old charges at her, head-butts her stomach, snatches the phone and flees.
The mother sighs, produces her iPhone calls the police.
The father emerges.
“What’s with all the screaming?” he asks.
The mother explains the situation.
The father rolls his eyes, grabs a torch and heads into the garden.
There is no scream this time.
He returns stony-faced and barks:
“It’s a chair. It’s just a fucking chair. Cancel the police.”
The family look disappointed.
Sirens wail in the distance.
And it is then, through the window, that I see the six-year-old, pyjama-clad in the cold night air, hurriedly leading a dishevelled-looking Max across the garden, to the street, and to freedom.
The Male Nanny