It’s a thin line between order and anarchy. We are, after all, just animals, and the total breakdown of social norms leading to instability and lawlessness is hiding only just beneath the surface. And that’s just in my house.

How do I hold the line? How do I stop the masses realising that I have no actual power and rising up and freeing themselves from my unjust tyranny?

I count. Generally down from five to zero. I rarely get to zero. The tension of a countdown is usually enough to break a deadlock. I’ve been doing it since they were tiny, and my plan of embedding it into their psyche seems to have been successful. Sometimes I only have to hold up a hand and start counting down with my fingers. Sometimes all I have to do is hold up my hand, which is quite an enjoyable feeling of power.

What happens after I get to zero? That’s not entirely clear. The fear of the unknown is the worst kind of fear. If I get to zero, I just bluster for a while, make some more threats, then start counting again. I know the day must be coming when I get to zero and they just shrug and wait to see what I do next. Then my reign is over. What then? Who will hold back anarchy in my house?

My son is arguing with his little sister. Suddenly I hear him counting. I’m confused. What’s he doing? Then I hear his sister say “OK, I’ll do it!” Then I realise what has happened.

He is using the power of counting on his own little sister. What have I done? It’s only a matter of time before he starts using the power of counting on me. What does come after zero?