When you're a grandparent you get all the good stuff. The cuddles and the playtimes and reading stories and dishing out lollies and spoiling the children and ... trying to keep track of your stuff when it turns out one of the grandkids is part magpie ...
I was getting some hay out of the shed for the horses this morning when I noticed something odd way up on top of the pile of bales.
I peered and squinted. It looked like a long stick or wooden pole.
Then I recognised it - it's the handle for my leaf rake.
I had been wondering where that had gone, ever since I found the yellow plastic rake part lying on the hay shed floor a couple of weeks ago, bereft of its handle and most of its functionality.
Whatever caused my rake to be dismembered had co-incided with a visit from the grandboys, so I can only assume it was being used in a battle between dinosaurs and zombies. I must remember to ask the head zombie to climb up and retrieve the rake handle.
It's not just the grandboys who repurpose my stuff either.
A couple of days ago I was chopping veges for tea and into the kitchen wandered my 2-year-old granddaughter, wearing a pink party dress and a Spiderman mask.
She opened a kitchen drawer and perused its contents, carefully taking out a spatula and a salad server. Then she took off the Spiderman mask, placed it in the drawer and closed it.
I'm not sure if it was a fair trade, as the Spiderman mask is a little hard to flip pikelets with, but I can't find my utensils. She's most likely traded them off for something else.
As yet she's not talking, so I can't ask her what she's done with them, but even when she does start to talk I will have to join a queue, as the second-most asked question when the 2-year-old visits (after "where did she go?") is ... "have you seen my ...?"
She might arrive wielding a favourite doll, but before long she's traded it off for something she likes better. Hence when you go to reach for the TV remote, you find a naked plastic doll and hear the sound of distant giggling.
In the bathroom, all the toothbrushes are missing, and the remote control is in the toothbrush mug, and you had better hope the toilet door is closed because she's not above making a trade for the toilet brush.
I've found my hairbrush replaced with a toy tractor, and I've gone into the paddock to exercise my horse only to see the lunge whip I leave in the paddock is gone, and in its place there's a blue golf ball.
She's traded toy cars for a handful of chess pieces, then lined the chess pieces on the windowsill and hiked off with the two ceramic pigs that were there previously.
The pigs were located in the dolls' house having a tea party with a plastic clothes peg, three hair ties and a roll of cellotape, but the original dolls' house occupants are still missing.
They'll turn up. I think one of them is in the vege garden but I'm not sure what it was traded for.
It's not too hard to keep order when it's just one twirling, bouncing, giggling, light-fingered 2-year-old to keep track of, but when you come to the weekend and add two or three grandboys, and their friends from next door, and the friends' friends ... things can get a little, complicated.
It's hard to stay focused when there's a zombie apocalypse on the back lawn, dinosaurs arguing in the hayshed and a meeting of the Pony Patting Club in the paddock. Especially when one of the pony patters gets thirsty and on her way inside for a drink is embroiled in a dinosaur stampede and has to defend herself with whatever comes to hand. I think that's where the rake got beheaded.
Then the dinosaurs tell on the pony patter and one of the zombies falls over and needs a plaster, and between the crying zombie and the tale-telling pterodactyls you open the drawer and ... the sticking plaster is gone and there's a small pink sock in its place.
And somewhere in the house you can hear the faint sound of giggling ...
It's often said that the best part about grandchildren is that you can give them back. And when they've all gone home I can sit down and peruse the interweb on my phone before I tackle the clean-up.
Or I could, but my phone needs charging, and when I went to get the cord I found a half-eaten cracker and a doll's shoe in its place.