The intruder and the tin of chopped tomatoes…

You’re alone in the house with your children.  You hear a noise.  You hear several more noises.  Definite footsteps.   Do you:

a)  Know exactly what to do.  Get into action, press the alarm that links directly to the police and get into your Jodie Fosteresque panic room that everyone said you’d never use

b)  Take your children and hide them in the under stairs cupboard before grabbing your phone, a steak knife and going to investigate

c)  Save yourself.  No sensible intruder would tackle your unruly children anyway

I was faced with this situation last week.  And yes, I’m ashamed to say I chose c).  I saved myself.  I blame all those years of listening to airplane safety demonstrations where they tell you to fit your own oxygen mask before helping others.  I got a bit confused, ok?

It was actually from sheer lack of knowing what to do rather than a calculated decision.  And in my defence, Beaver and Godivy definitely fall into the ‘unruly’ category.  They’d have an intruder in tears in seconds.  I’m telling you, they can probably protect themselves better than I ever could.

Fortunately, I wasn’t completely alone in the house.  I had my lovely friend and her three children round for tea.  Lovely friend, who I realised, is much savvier than me when it comes to dealing with intruders.  We are talking firm b) category here.

‘There’s someone in the house,’ she said quickly.  Assertively.

And she had us all outside in the garden in seconds, whilst I was still faffing about grabbing steak knives from the drawer and swiftly putting them back?

Godivy meanwhile had been completely forgotten in the panic and was still obliviously eating her tea glued to Tree Fu Tom.  Learning some tactical moves, hopefully.

Eventually, all seven of us were gathered outside at the back of the house.

‘What do we do now?’ I asked savvy friend.

‘Well, if we need to, we pass the kids over the fence, one by one.’


So we waited.  For the need, I guess.  With five pairs of beady, expectant eyes on us.

‘What are we doing out here?’ asked one.

‘Sshhh, we all need to stay very quiet.’

And amazingly, given that five kids under five could normally make enough noise to rival a football stadium they stayed completely silent.  Even little Godivy.

‘Call your neighbour,’ said savvy friend.

So I did.  And I whispered that we were hiding in the garden because there was someone in the house.  We needed help.

‘Oh,’ she said very casually.  ‘That might be Oscar.  I said I’d send him round, remember, to pick up the chopped tomatoes.  He’s been banging on the door for the past five minutes.’


And so I would like to add an option d).  Do you:

d) Completely overreact.  Hide in the garden and outwait the intruder.  Who turns out to be an innocent six year old messenger you were expecting to drop round.

Oh well.  Better safe (and stupid) than sorry.

SURVIVING MOTHERHOOD TIP#15 – how to deal with a real intruder

  1. If you can get to a phone safely, dial 999 immediately to inform police of the situation.  The police, remember.  NOT your neighbour.
  2. Use your judgement as to what other action you take.  Unless your judgement is very poor, like mine.  Keep calm and do not take any unnecessary risks.  Like hiding in the garden with five kids under five.
  3. If you think someone is outside do not go and investigate.  Keep yourself safe, keep the doors locked and call the police immediately.  Again, do NOT call your neighbour.
  4. If you think someone is inside, get out if you can, call the police and listen to what they tell you. Don’t try and catch the intruder or block their escape.  If you have to act, yell or scream or blow a whistle.  Be warned, that if the intruder turns out to be a six year old messenger you may psychologically scar them for life.  And get sued by their parents.



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