Chapter 1: A Few Facts
Out of the mouths of babes…
…come epithets and tattling and mad cackles.
The 221B household for the uninitiated:
Rosie Watson sometimes calls Sherlock mummy. Everyone awwws at this, including Sherlock. Same thing happens when she calls him papa. By the age of two she is also addressing him as Holmes. John Watson is of course daddy. And no matter how Sherlock tries—he's rather possessive of his endearment for his husband—Rosie still calls her daddy darling on occasion.
The consulting detective used to carry mini-Watson about in a papoose on his back until that time he wore her on his front, facing out. As he talked with her about a case, she looked left at a very critical moment. “Yes!" shouted her papa, "It was hiding in plain sight. Oh Rosie, you see and observe!"
Is it any wonder, then, that "thee and ubserb!" were some of Rosie's first words? (Though the reason the child has Sherlock’s youthful lisp is still unknown to science.) Rosie's first actual words, after dada and papa were "Game!" and "Bang!" the latter after which she cackles like the insane.
Speaking of speaking, recently Rosie muttered "Bugger!" after dropping her sippy cup. John and Sherlock glared accusingly at one another, but it was Mrs Hudson who laughed faintly and said unconvincingly, "Oh where do they pick up these things?"
By the by, Sherlock is very scientific about testing baby foods before they give them to Rosie. John thinks this is a lovely idea. John does not realize the bloody half of it.
For it is only after he's off to work that Sherlock dresses Rosie in goggles and enormous latex gloves. Sometimes he stuffs fluorescent foam plugs into Watson's ears. It's then he does horrific things to Rosie's Farley's, terrible things to her rusks, and the less said about what happens to the Cow & Gate the better.
That many of these experiments lead to the child kicking her feet gleeful and shouting "Bang!" and then "Oops!" as Sherlock deftly manages another smoking ruin is to be expected.
When John comes home it's a matter of moments before Rosie is saying "Papa went BANG! Oops!" and the game is up, every. fucking. time. Still, Sherlock always gives her a wink after John's done yelling, whispering "Clearly they should never be mixed in the same container Watson," as the child beams.
John is convinced that if he doesn't tear his hair out before he's fifty it'll be a fucking miracle. In the meantime it's not possible for him to love two people more.
Winklepicker, a_secret_scribbler, 221b_hound, and myself were discussing what might make us gleefully tune into series five of Sherlock. Here you have chapter one of the result. P.S. Farley's and Cow & Gate are baby food brands, and you'd teeth on a rusk.
Chapter 2: Rosiegeddon
Chapter by 221b_hound, Winklepicker
Sherlock has a habit of packing little things of Rosie's and John's when he has to go away on a case without them. Fom half chewed rusks to John's odd socks. Sometimes, he takes the wrong things.
When Sherlock has to go away for a case, even just overnight, or he thinks he might, he throws one or two completely unnecessary and also completely necessary things into his pockets or his bag.
Rosie’s second favourite dummy. Her plush toy monkey wearing the skeleton onesie (out of favour that week, but in demand again two days after he got back). Once, a half eaten rusk.
It’s not only random Rosie things that Sherlock slips into his going-away gear. One of John’s socks vanished into a pocket once. John’s Work Pen (engraved, a gift from an earlier stint at a hospital. John feared it had been used in experiments, but it was returned in better condition than when it was taken). Once, a book that John was half way through. He got that one back with scathing notes in the margins about the accuracy of the science and idiocy of the protagonists, and a single strong exclamation mark followed by a smiley face against the page containing the passionate sex scene involving a man in army uniform.
(That Saturday afternoon, with Rosie on a visit to her Aunt Molly, was an especially exhausting/satisfying one. John still has the book. Sherlock has smiley-face-exclaimed on a few similar passages and they’re working through them.)
At first John thought Sherlock packed their things with specific results in mind. The book, the pen and the fact Sherlock never took Rosie’s current favourite dummy or toy said yes; the gnawed on rusk and the sock said no.
And then there was the day that Rosie was screaming in her high chair, throwing mashed peach all over the floor, the table, her father, and herself, and nothing could calm her down or make her desist.
Not John saying please in either his Super Calm voice, his Super Pleading voice or his Super I Want to Cry Too voice.
Not John trying to cuddle her (he got an eyeful of peach-coated baby fist for his pains; he was kind of proud of her aim even when his eye wouldn’t stop watering).
Not John singing the Bones song for her.
Certainly not him offering her every single one of her toys in turn. (They were flung violently away. Four of them bounced off his chest; one off his face. Her aim really was excellent, and she was hardly even trying. She was obviously the best and cleverest baby in the history of babies.)
John knew the problem. Pocks the Fox was nowhere to be found. Pocks the Fox was last seen in the vicinity of Sherlock’s overnight bag as he threw things in, willy nilly, for the sudden trip.
Pocks the Fox was obviously on an impromptu holiday, and Rosie the Posie was having two hundred kinds of pink fit that Pocks the Fox was not available for her to suck on his ears.
John would be Having Words with Sherlock about this magpie habit of his, and how it had precipitated the Rosiegeddon. Not just yet, though. Sherlock was currently half way to Newcastle in a hire car, bag thrown on the back seat, and he wouldn’t be back for two days: more if the case proved complicated.
And so John was doing the Daddy Dance while weathering the Rosepocalypse. The Daddy Dance, which was usually guaranteed to make Rosie laugh. Or at least stop screaming when she was distressed and didn’t have Pocks the Fucking Fox when she needed him.
Rosie screamed until her face was scarlet and tears like fat pearls of soul-dissolving heartbreak dripped from her chin.
John put his arms over his head and lifted his knees and capered like a jester while he sang.
Rosie Posie, puddeny pie
Punched her Daddy in the eye
I might teach you how to box
and thump Papa who took your fox
John danced in a half circle and waggled his bum then danced back round, pulled up his shirt and slapped on his belly like a drum.
Rosie Posie, puddeny pie
For god’s sake, sweetheart, please don’t cry
Papa didn’t mean to pack
That fucking fox in his fucking bag
Rosie howled tears like it was the end of the world.
John lifted her from the chair and tried dancing around with her as she screamed in his ear.
“Rosie, sweetie, don’t cry. You’ll bust something. Come on sweetie. Papa didn’t mean to take your fox. He just misses us when he’s away so he takes us with him. He’s nicked off with my sonic screwdriver pen again, the one your Uncle Greg gave me for my birthday, and I’m not yelling. See? Daddy’s singing the Doctor Song instead.” He swooped her around as he sang. “Awoooo-ooooo-ooh-wah-oooo – da da da dum, da da da dum, da da da dum, da da da dum – oooowaoooah-oooohhh-wah-oooo.”
Rosie stopped yelling – she was fond of the Daddy’s version of the Doctor Who theme – but then she started sobbing in big gulping sobs and the heartbreak just got worse.
John cuddled her and she sobbed and he rocked her in his arms and she sobbed and he was very near sobbing himself, half in frustration and half in helpless distress at her distress.
But then John heard the rapid tattoo of feet running on the stairs, and Sherlock calling up as he ran, “Jooooooooooohn!!!” and then he burst through the door, brandishing Pocks the Fox in his hand with an expression of direst upset.
“Watson! See, Papa’s got Pocks the Fox right here. See? See, Rosie! Observe!”
Rose, who knew that word very well, observed. “Mama!” she cried, holding out her little hands. Sherlock ran to her and gently put the soft toy in her grabby little fists. The panic in his face faded at the same time as Rosie pushed her face into Pocks’s belly and wiped her nose on him. She gave a few more little sobs, shook the toy in her fists and then threw it at Sherlock’s face.
Pocks the Fox bounced off Sherlock’s nose onto the floor and Rosie cackled with laughter like a demented thing. Sherlock gave the fox back to her. She threw it again. It bounced off his face. She cackled.
John jigged his baby girl in his arms, grinning while Rosie and Sherlock played this game.
“I’m so sorry, darling,” said Sherlock to John in between fox-face-bounces. “I picked up what was nearest. I meant to get the bee.”
John vaguely recalled Buzzy Bee sitting near Pocks the Fox on the table when Sherlock was packing.
“As soon as I realised, I came right back.”
“How far did you get?”
“That’s hours away! You were half way to Newcastle!”
“Doesn’t matter.” Sherlock paused while the fox bounced off his face and Rosie laughed again. He fetched the fox and gave it to Rosie for the next round. “Stopped for petrol, saw Pocks, brought him back. Not a moment too soon, apparently.”
“You’re a good Papa,” said John, and laughed along with Rosie at the next face bounce.
Sherlock kissed their daughter, kissed his husband, picked up Buzzy Bee from where he’d been flung against the grate, put the toy in his pocket, kissed his family again and said, “I really have to go. I’m sorry I missed the Daddy Dance.”
“How do you know I did the Daddy Dance?”
“You always do the Daddy Dance to cheer her up. And you haven’t pulled your shirt down properly.” Sherlock patted the exposed strip of John’s belly.
“Ah well. If you’re a good boy, I might give you the Husband version when you get back from the case.”
Sherlock grinned and kissed his husband soundly. “Send me a video,” he murmured in John’s ear.
Then Sherlock dashed out the door again before John could ask after his sonic screwdriver pen.
And all was well and happy in Baker Street, until the following morning, when Rosie wanted Buzzy Bee.
Inspired by conversations with Winklepicker, Atlin and A Secret Scribbler. Then Winklepicker said "what if he did take her current favourite unknowingly and then ran back with it right in the middle of an improtant case because Rosie is more important."
Pocks the Fox
The Skeleton Monkey
Chapter 3: A Symphony in Poo Major
Chapter by 221b_hound, Winklepicker
These tiny wee (poo) snippets came about when 221b_hound was delighted to think how Sherlock would react the first time Rosie poo-ed while sitting on Mycroft's lap.
And when the lovely SherlocksSister decided John would teach everyone some new vocabulary when Rosie found a way to escape her clothes and indulge in some imaginative finger painting.
“Oh god, no. Please, no.”
The small human baby-child person known as Rosie was gumming at her toes and burbling away on her changing table. Her daddy was doubled over, hands on knees, dry heaving.
He told himself he was a doctor for crying out loud. He'd been in a war zone, attended crime scenes, lived with Sherlock. Sherlock. He had smelled far, far worse.
But sometimes a sudden rush of poo under pressure shooting up baby's back right up to her hair was enough to make even a doctor who had done his fair share of disimpacting retch.
Enough was enough. John straightened, cleared his throat, raised his chin and went into battle.
The tissues he stuffed up his nose helped.
“Most amusing, little brother. Now if you wouldn't mind…”
It was difficult to convince Mycroft to hold her at all, let alone encourage him to dandle her on his knee.
Sherlock and John soon learned the trick every parent does. Hand over child, encourage play, give ‘em the old ‘she likes you’ routine, change conversation topic, casually step away to do something, anything on their own while unsuspecting visitor is forced to take charge of child.
That is how Mycroft found himself staring stony-faced at a baby while John went off for a nap, Sherlock checked his emails, and Rosie tried to reach uncle Mykwot’s nostrils for a good tug.
This was clearly the best game ever devised until… Rosie went quiet and still. She blinked a slow blink, then smiled a satisfied smile.
And then Mycroft sniffed.
And sniffed again to make sure he hadn’t imagined the horror that was emanating from the back of Rosie’s onesie.
And then his face did the thing it did when someone said nucular instead of nuclear.
Sherlock, as the empathetic brother he was, laughed so hard his cackling infected Rosie who giggled and wriggled about on Mycroft’s knee to reach out for her Papa.
The photo he took of Mycroft’s face is still his contact photo on Sherlock's phone.
“Watson! We do not use faecal matter as an art supply.”
Sherlock and John had tried to be environmentally friendly—good lord they'd tried. But the last straw for the eco cloth nappies was also the last day Rosie’s new rug would be known as Rosie's new rug instead of Rosie's poo rug.
It took skill John hadn’t mastered yet to pin those nappies up and in the short time it took him to heat up a bottle, Rosie had slipped herself out of the nappy and started to create a work of art with the contents. She patted and slapped and swiped and scrunched with her dimpled little fingers.
Sherlock said it was a masterpiece.
John said, well, John said a lot of things. That is until Rosie banged on the rug with both hands and yelled fuck-fuck-fuck and blew a raspberry. John nodded at her then, and agreed it was a masterpiece.
It was disposable nappies from then on.
Chapter 4: Love is in the hair
Chapter by a_secret_scribbler
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's got the prettiest hair of all?"
Musings about the hairy goings on in 221b.
Braid like a Boss
John watched “Braid like a Boss” on YouTube nine times before he could indeed “Braid like a Boss” or rather “Braid like the bosses incompetent assistant who takes over when his boss is on her holidays and does a semi-reasonable job, but everyone is secretly delighted when she comes back…” Rosie will ask him to plait her hair if Sherlock is busy/out/asleep (and can’t be woken). John can produce a reasonable French plait for Rosie’s ballet lessons now without so much as a muttered “Cock!”
Sherlock, of course, can braid Rosie’s hair into cornrows, French plaits, pigtails and the fancy “Princess Leia” arrangement that Rosie insisted on after binge watching Star Wars with John one bank holiday weekend. Plus he can do all this whilst reading a crime report from Lestrade or completing the Times crossword. It infuriates John.
“Oh John, its just hair. Mycroft was quite the dandy as a young boy and he instructed me in the finer points of dressing my own hair from around the age of four, I am well versed in the art of the chignon, French plait, upstyling, twisting and pinning, and the classic bun…Could you pass the jam please?”
“Of course you are…” mumbled John under his breath, reaching for the damson conserve.
No More Tears
The promised “No More Tears” shampoo has raised the hair washing game as far as Rosie is concerned. Her daddies can now happily sculpt her hair into a unicorn horn or the classic devil horns without the soapy suds sliding down her forehead into her eyes and causing anything more than a minor flurry of the flannel.
However, before unleashing this promising formula onto their precious daughter, Sherlock insisted on experimenting, to see if the shampoo lived up to its name. He pipetted drops of the yellow liquid directly into his right eye. After the screaming and swearing had died down, and John had rinsed out the offending product with the tiny blue glass eye bath he keeps in the bathroom cabinet for exactly these sort of occasions, Sherlock announced “It stings like fuck John! We can’t possibly put it anywhere near our daughter’s eyes!” John sighed, placed the rather dashing pirate patch over his sweetheart’s poorly eye and said in that voice. You know, the one that brooks no argument “Rosie isn’t stupid enough to pour undiluted shampoo into her eyes Sherlock, she’ll be absolutely fine” before stomping off into the bedroom for a lie down and a sneaky wank.
Forty two? Forty two!
“Mo’wer daddy! Mo’WERRR!”
Rosie sat in front of the pink dressing table that Mycroft had so kindly inflicted upon them last Christmas, watching, as Sherlock slid the 41st tiny pink hair clip into her hair, she beamed and shouted again “Mo’ WERRRRRR!!!” The 42nd clip slid in just above her right ear. She looked in the mirror and preened, John said she got that from Sherlock.
He was just sliding in the 43rd, a tiny lilac coloured clip, when Rosie threw up her hands and frowned.
“I had’n any-nuff now daddy.” This was Rosie speak for “If you don’t want a tantrum that can be heard from Mars, I would stop right there mister!”
Sherlock looked at the pretty clip hovering in his hand just above Rosie’s head, it was almost the same colour as his shirt, so he slid it into his fringe, and it sat there shining like a jewel amongst the inkiness of his own curls.
“Are you two ever going to be ready?” John asked popping his head around the doorframe, he saw Rosie siting on the pink padded stool posing in front of the mirror, her hair standing up like a dandelion clock.
“Well. Don’t you look pretty! Come on then, let’s get you into the dress. At this rate, you’ll outshine the bride.”
“John. If you refer to Mycroft as the bride one more time, I swear I will tell him and you’ll be wearing concrete boots before the day is over!” Sherlock said watching as Rosie squirmed into her bridesmaid dress.
“Co’ Kweet boots daddy” Rosie repeated as her head emerged from the layers of pale lilac tulle that made up her dress.
Sherlock gave John an amused grin, to which he replied with a raised eyebrow. “Come on then, let’s go see Uncle Greg and Uncle Mikey get wed. And don’t think I can’t see that clip in your hair Sherlock Holmes!”
Later that evening, John settled an exhausted Rosie into her bed, 26 hair clips were lined up on the bedside table. The rest? Well the other 16 ended up in Sherlock’s curls. The wedding service went on far too long, and the only way Sherlock could keep Rosie quiet was by allowing her to “Pretty” his hair with lilac and pink hair clips pulled straight out of her hair and pushed into his own by tiny, inexpert fingers. And, just because it made her happy, he wore the damn things proudly for the rest of the day, quite ruining the group wedding photo’s according to Mycroft.
So, you see. Sometimes John’s day is all about adrenalin and running around after his crazy mad man in a coat. Some days it’s all about fighting his daughter into her blue dress when she wants to wear the red one soaking in a bucket after the goose poo incident. And other days? Well, they’re all about the hair. And when he bemoans the fact that Sherlock, only a couple of years younger than him, hasn’t got one single grey hair on his head. Sherlock just leans over, buries his nose in John’s blonde and grey mop and mumbles “John, you’ve not got grey hairs, they’re just wisdom highlights.”
"Had'n any-nuff" ruthlessly stolen from my daughter who used it on the occasions when she HAD or HADN'T had enough.
Chapter 5: Back to That 'Holmes' and 'Watson' Thing
Chapter by AtlinMerrick
A Rosemund and Sherlock by any other name would still (sometimes) smell as sweet…
The first time Rosie called her papa 'Holmes'…
…she was two years old and standing naked in the sitting room of 221B, her baby belly stuck out and her nappy on the floor, its contents on display for all. This was during Rosemund's brief Discomfort Era, a period that lasted ten weeks and in which Rosie pulled off her nappy immediately after evacuating into it. The cause was obviously discomfort, the response really rather appropriate except when that response happened in the Tesco aisle or that time at Buckingham Palace.
Anyway, the point is that the first time Rosie called her papa by his surname she had just pulled off her wet diaper, chucked it on the floor, and said, "I gone pee pee Holmeth!"
The second time Rosie called her papa 'Holmes'…
…she was being cuddled by her daddy, who, after a long day doing locum work, had gathered up his child, tucked her fuzzy head beneath his chin, and breathed deep in hopes of untwanging his nerves and slowing his heart.
As he waited to be untwanged and slowed, he asked his child about her day. The two-year-old said, "Holmeth ask me go potty in the loo today." When John asked his daughter if she had, in fact, successfully used the toilet, she replied, "I weeded in m'nappy and had thereal."
The first time Sherlock called his daughter 'Watson'…
…the child was an infant and Sherlock was staring at the her sleeping face, quite probably counting her eyelashes (again) and likely choking on the heart in his throat (again) and otherwise so utterly besotted that his words were a spontaneous whisper. "I love you mini-Watson."
Maxi-Watson happened to be right beside Sherlock at that moment and he kind of ruined the moment a little by trying to hug Sherlock instead accidentally head-butting him so hard they both had a bruise next day.
The second time Sherlock called his daughter 'Watson'…
…Anderson had just handed her back after she'd farted as loudly as a baby is capable of farting, filling Lestrade's office with a stench profound.
Once Mr. Forensics—seriously, the man's had a career smelling dead people—had fled, Sherlock bounced Rosie on his knee (ignoring the squishy sounds) saying, "I agree Watson, his theory stinks."
That time they publically used one another's surnames…
When Rosie was nineteen her papa got an award for, of all things, writing. It was a small thing given by a small group but when Rosie was asked to take part in the ceremony—when all they knew was that Sherlock had been nominated—Rosie agreed on the proviso that she could give out the award for Best Scientific Crime Blog (a category Rosie's pretty sure they made up so that they could nominate Sherlock and thereby get the press coverage that would naturally follow).
Anyway, when Sherlock actually went ahead and won the award—against actual competition—Rosie was so excited in the announcing she said, "And the award goes to Holmes!" So excited was Sherlock when he stepped up to the podium that he said, "Thank you Watson," and don't think that the press didn't write about that the next day because really, they'll write about just about anything.
And finally, a word from John…
Where does the good doctor stand in all this?
Look, all John cares about, all he's ever cared about, is that they are a family. If Rosie wants to call her papa Buttercup and Sherlock's fine with that, then Sherlock is Buttercup. Similarly, if Sherlock wants to call their child Dr. Baby Watson or Darling Girl or Dr. Rosemund Watson Holmes Darling Baby Girl, then that is who she is for the duration.
All John Watson really needs, really, is to be loved by the two people he loves most in this world.
And that is where John Watson (Maxi) stands on that.
In my head canon Mini-Watson and Holmes have more or less always (sometimes) called one another by their surnames. I feel this is both a serene nod to canon and a super-duper crazy-good reason to have Rosie lisp Sherlock's surname. P.S. We've got a writing newsletter—do please subscribe and take part!
Chapter 6: Pull My Finger
Chapter by AtlinMerrick
When baby's sick, papa and daddy do what they can to soothe...
"—well Mycroft used to do it for me."
"He did not."
"Mycroft. He did not do that. For you."
"Of course he did. Why would I say he did if he didn't?"
"Mycroft? Mycroft Mycroft?"
"Yes, Mycroft. It always made me laugh when I didn't feel well."
"Your brother. Mycroft."
"I do just have the one, John."
"I refuse to believe this."
Then softly. "Is it…okay? I mean you don't mind?"
John blinked his sleepy gaze away from fireplace ashes and back to his baby-holding husband.
"That I do it…to help her?"
John smiled, sandy-haired sunshine at midnight. "Oh love, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it as a judgment, I just…can't imagine Mycroft being silly for you. I'm glad he was. And I'm glad you are for Rosie. You're mad as a box of frogs my love. Completely clappers. You're—"
"I do get the idea John."
Then softly. "I'm sorry again. Rosie's just got a horrible grumpy daddy who's really tired and wishes she felt better. She needs her wonderfully mad papa right now so you just keep doing what you're doing, which is obviously working because she's definitely stopped crying."
Sherlock raised the haughty chin of the vindicated. He had performed experiments. Highly useful experiments that had taught him which behaviours would produce maximum entertainment for a small, wheezy child with a big, gooey cold.
So, cuddling one-year-old Rosemund close with one hand, Sherlock clutched her tiny, tiny index finger with his other, tugged gently, and then MOUTH FARTED SUPER LOUD.
The effect was immediate as medicine: The congested child kicked her legs and shrieked so joyfully a mucus bubble came out her nose.
"Oh no, what was that!"
Index finger. Pull. FART NOISE. Shriek.
"Who's papa's gassy little girl?"
Index finger. Pull. FART NOISE. Shriek.
"Who Rosie? Who?"
Index finger. Pull. FART NOISE. Shriek.
"You are! You are!"
Index finger. Pull. FART NOISE. Shriek. MOIST SOUND.
John's sunshine face was gone, replaced with an over-tired frown-cloud.
Then softly. "It's your turn to change her."
I'd love to tell you that this chapter happened because, while visiting 221b_hound, I asked her to pull my finger, but that would be a lie. I'm sorry. P.S. I can totally see Sherlock tugging gently at Rosie's weeny little baby digits with his long, spidery ones. P.P.S. Come read and then write for our writing newsletter!
Chapter 7: 'Snot a Problem
Chapter by 221b_hound
Rosie has a bad cold. John is most emphatically not worried. Despite all the things he knows can go horribly wrong. Nope, nope, not worried at all. But his baby girl can't breathe! And then Sherlock comes home and has a direct if rather revolting solution to the problem.
WARNING: Icky bodily fluids and gross but practical ways of dealing with them.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Rosie had another cold. A much worse cold.
John was emphatically not worried about it. At all. Nope. He was a doctor. A professional. He knew exactly what was going on, and how much or little he could do, and what the dangers were.
Nosirree, no worrying here.
Babies got colds all the time. Even tiny little things of three months old, just like Rosie was now, and those babies were all perfectly fine. Eventually. After the cold ran its course.
Almost none of them died, especially here in Great Britain with its NHS and access to top quality medicine, clinics, specialists, all practically on the doorstep of every home. Not like some of the countries he’d lived in, been posted to, where some villages were hours or days away from qualified medical professionals. Where affordable health care just wasn’t. Where the poorest people often lived in crowded conditions in poorly made houses with inadequate ventilation and coal fire stoves that made the atmosphere unhealthy for everyone, let alone for vulnerable little undernourished infants whose tiny bodies shook with fever and cried only weakly, hardly able to breathe for congestion and hunger, and he’d seen all that and done the best he could (he still donated regularly to Médecins Sans Frontières) and this thing here, with Rosie, this thing here was nothing like those things there. Rosie was going to be fine.
So John was not, was very much not, visualising all the things that could possibly go wrong when a tiny child had a head cold.
Just because he was a widely travelled medical man who knew precisely what could go wrong, and how often, and how badly…
John held Rosie in his arms and brutally shut down his imagination that was too steeped in certain realities. He insisted that he did not feel lost and helpless at her flushed red face and the glistening mucus at her nose, which he wiped gently away with a soft, warm cloth. He held her near the humidifier, the steam of which was supposed to help her breathe and was instead a Useless Fucking Waste of Money.
Rosie cried. Rosie coughed. Rosie cried again.
“I know, Rosie. Daddy’s helping. Daddy’s looking after you.”
Rosie sneezed and sprayed Daddy with baby snot. He gently wiped her face, then his own.
Daddy is as useless as chocolate teapot, baby girl. I’m so sorry.
John roundly, but not out loud where Rosie could hear, cursed his home medical kit to all hells as well. It was perfectly set up with gauze, bandages, sterile needles and suture thread for impromptu stitches. He had creams for burns and bruises. There was ipecac to reverse the unexpected ingestion of poisons and even ease congestion, but only in adults and not at all, no no no, for tiny children. His regular home clinic contained painkillers, anti-inflammatories and anti-nausea pills. Eye wash, eye cups and eyepatches. Braces for sprains in wrists, knees and ankles. He had all manner of kit for all manner of harm that could happen to two grown men who sometimes had the self-preservation instincts of a moth in love with the candle flame.
But where the ever-loving fuck was the full medical kit for a baby? A bottle of saline and infant strength liquid paracetamol was one thing, but he should have a complete basic paediatric clinic set up at home. At the very fucking least, he should have bought that bulb syringe for just this sort of occasion. Or one of those nasal aspirators, which sounded disgusting to use, but they had filters and – okay, so now he was dry retching a bit – and they were perfectly sound for both parent and child, and more hygienic than the bulbs, which were meant to be disposable…
Rosie cried and coughed and a bubble of mucus formed, grew and deflated before he could get to it. He wiped again and kissed her warm forehead.
Warm. Too warm? He’d have to put her down to get the thermometer. Maybe he should just take her to the clinic. They’d have an aspirator there in any case, and she might be able to breathe properly for a while.
“There, sweetheart, there.” She was already in the sling. So coat – bugger that, couldn’t get it on over the sling. “Daddy’s got you.” Wallet, then. Keys. “Come on, off to the doctor we go, yes we do….”
Then the whirlwind flew through the front door.
“Case solved,” it announced within the flurry of swirling coat, scarf on peg, “Stupidly simple. The victim had a cat, so naturally the used syringe was under the fridge and where are you going with Watson? The clinic? Really? It’s only a cold…”
“She can’t breathe, all right, and we don’t have an aspirator because we’re idiots and she is getting a fever and she can’t breathe, and do you have any idea how many babies develop complications? Ear infections, eye infections, strep throat, bacterial sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, Sherlock, fucking pneumonia-“
John took a deep breath. Puffed it out. Calmed the fuck on down.
“Rosie can’t breathe properly and she’s worn out from crying. I need a bulb syringe to clear her sinuses so she can breathe, which they’ll have at the clinic. A nasal aspirator would be better…”
“A nasal aspirator?”
“You insert one end in the nose, create a vacuum by sucking on the other end. There’s a filter, of course, and the… the discharge is trapped in a chamber at the insertion point. Perfectly safe and prevents cross infection, even if a bit gross. There are electronic versions…”
“But you have less control and I expect the suction isn’t strong enough for this level of congestion.” Sherlock was already running his fingers over Rosie’s flushed forehead. She coughed. She sneezed gooily all over his hand. Sherlock became noticeably less calm. “How long has she been like this? Has she slept? Has she eaten? What about the humidifier? How often, in your experience, does a cold like this develop into a worse infection? Does she have an infection?”
Sherlock was also most emphatically not worried, no no no. Nope. He was a detective. He was a professional. He was gathering data.
“Four hours. Hardly. She tried. Humidifier’s a useless lump of plastic. Hardly ever. Not that’s obvious. Now are you coming with us to the clinic?”
“Clinic will take too long. Travel, waiting time, fussing about asking questions you already know the answer to. Besides, I saw a thing once in Tibet…” Sherlock had lifted their sick little girl into his arms and cradled her. “There now, Watson. Papa’s going to make it better right away, no waiting.”
And before John could properly form a protest, Sherlock had sealed his mouth over her congested little nose…
Mrs Hudson was used to a variety of declarations, shouting, occasional crashing furniture and hysterical laughter from upstairs. Only very occasionally were those sounds related to cases.
So Mrs Hudson hardly paused in her sweeping out the entryway when she heard the shouting.
Sherlock, what the…? Wait! That’s...! Don’t suck so hard! Oh my god. Right. Right. Okay. Just. Oh my fucking god, do not swallow! Spit! Spit! Here’s a hankie…”
Everything upstairs got quieter.
Mrs Hudson finished sweeping and hoped they hadn’t woken the baby.
Sherlock, after handing Rosie back to John, had disappeared to brush his teeth and gargle Listerine like there was no tomorrow.
Rosie had settled in John's arms, snuffling slightly but otherwise breathing more easily, dropping into exhausted sleep. John would very much have liked to do the same. Instead, he settled her into her cot.
“I’ll be out for an hour or so,” he said as Sherlock emerged, smelling strongly of soap and mint.
Sherlock didn’t even have to ask where John was going. “Get some more syrup of ipecac while you’re there, and more mouthwash, and nicotine patches…”
“You haven’t used those in years…”
“It’s that or cigarettes, John.”
“Patches it is. Anything else?” Sherlock immediately looked wistful, and John smiled, because if anyone deserved an award for valour today, it was Sherlock. “A Terry’s dark chocolate orange it is then. And how about those Bakewell tarts you like? Or that pudding…”
“Ah. Quite right. No custard. And I’ll pick up an aspirator…”
“Two different types.”
“Two aspirators, wind drops, that eucalyptus chest rub. Wipes, saline nasal spray-“
“Pampers. Got it. Won’t be long.”
John kissed Sherlock on the mouth and walked out. He got to the corner before he remembered where Sherlock’s minty-tasting mouth had most recently been.
Then he shrugged, because a) Sherlock had been known to put much worse things in his mouth than baby mucus and b) when your little one couldn’t breathe (pneumonia!) you did what you had to do to make it better, and that was that.
John came home with every item on the list, plus a bunch of bright, assorted gerberas which he threaded into Sherlock’s hair to decorate him for being a hero.
This is the nasal aspirator that John was talking about.
John's response to Rosie being sick is partly based on that of a friend of mine, a doctor who had trouble switching off from all the things she knew could go wrong when her baby boy got sick. (He did not get pneumonia. He's a robust boy of 10 now.)
It's also partly based on a story a friend of mine told about how their grandma dealt with their sick baby. We can all be grateful that aspirators exist instead.
Chapter 8: Buzzy Bee: Keeper of Secrets
Chapter by 221b_hound
Buzzy Bee sometimes goes on cases with Sherlock. When he does, Sherlock, in a welter of missing his family, tells Buzzy Bee secrets.
In baby Rosie’s parade of favourite toys, Pocks the Fox spends most time at the pinnacle in the top three. The other two places are on rotation between SkellyMonk (the plush monkey in a skeleton onesie) and Buzzy Bee.
Apart from that one time, Sherlock is careful never to take Pocks the Fox with him when he has to go away from his family. He tries not to take Rosie’s toys at all, especially nothing in the top three, because he and John can definitely to without ever having another Rosiegeddon. (They’ll have them anyway. Her parents are drama queens. Being overdramatic goes with the territory.)
That first time he took Buzzy, though, immediately after the first Rosiegeddon, was the harbinger of other times, other cases.
Sherlock was in Newcastle for four days without his husband and daughter. The case was difficult. The perpetrator was an arsehole. The police liaison was worse than the Met had been on their most dismissive days back in the Time Before John. Sherlock was brilliant anyway, despite the bruises on his back from being shoved down the stairs.
On his fourth night from home, Sherlock didn’t feel the triumph of it. He felt lonely and demoralised. It was much too late to phone John – the ring tone would have woken Rosie – and so Sherlock lay in bed, with John’s Sonic Screwdriver pen in the hands he’d folded under his chin, and gazing at Buzzy Bee on the pillow beside him.
Buzzy’s giant eyes and gormless little face gazed back.
“You smell like baby powder and milk,” Sherlock whispered. “You smell like my little girl.” He reached out and booped it on the nose. Buzzy’s nose was a little matted, because Rosie liked sucking on it. “I miss her. I miss John. I miss the way he smiles at her when no-one but me can see, and he goes all soft around his edges. His edges melt. He’s all squidge sometimes, when he looks at her. I love that. She’ll be asleep in John’s arms and John is 100 per cent squidge and I love him so much I’m nothing but squidge myself, and Rosie will sleepy sigh so sweetly I find I can double my capacity to love her, and I dissolve completely. And I like it.”
Buzzy continued to gaze, non-judgmentally, at Sherlock and his sentimental outburst.
“I’ll let you in on a secret, Buzzy,” Sherlock whispered at the little fellow. “Love has made me a better detective. I understand so much more than I used to. My Watsons are better than mysteries. They are the keys to all mysteries.”
After that, Sherlock was able to sleep at last.
When Sherlock has to be away, once he reaches his lodgings, he lays out his shaving gear and deodorant, hangs his clothes for the next day, puts whatever he's taken of Rosie's by the bed and whatever he's nicked of John's next to it.
Although Sherlock tries not to take Rosie’s toys with him, well, somehow, Buzzy Bee has gone on most of Sherlock’s trips from home. So, come to that, has John’s watch. At night, Sherlock will Facetime his family, read a story to Rosie, then goes to sleep with the ticking of the watch and those solemn, friendly bee eyes to keep him company.
Often, before he sleeps, he’ll whisper a secret to Buzzy. A sentimental secret.
John has a freckle on his bottom and it’s my favourite one.
When Little Watson calls me Mama, I think I like it even more than when she calls me Papa.
John doesn’t fuss about his scars, but once I watched while he slept and tried to imagine what had happened to him, and the thought of him frightened and in pain made me cry. He woke up and held me, assuming I’d had a nightmare, which in a way I had. I won’t be doing that again in a hurry.
When Rosie stands on my lap and holds onto my hair to keep from falling, I want to open up my chest and tuck her inside to keep her safe forever, which is stupid, but it feels like she is my heart, beating outside of my ribcage.
Nine times out of ten he wakes up with the watch under his pillow so he can hear the tick like John’s heartbeat, and Buzzy under his chin, because it smells like his Little Watson.
Buzzy keeps a lot of secrets, and not just for Sherlock. Perhaps we'll learn more of the secrets he keeps for John, Rosie, and the other poeple in their lives.
Chapter 9: Very Particular Enthusiasms
Chapter by AtlinMerrick
Rosie Holmes-Watson has been…'enthusiastic'…about everything from footwear to flat worms and before you think her strange, recall that she's the daughter of a man who thinks a bowl of fresh intestines is a sweet gift, and also the daughter of the man who fell in love with that man the day he met him.
These are an unusual people.
The Holmes-Watson family is prone to…enthusiasms.
No. That's not true, not at all. On two counts.
Count the first: It is not the family that is enthusiastic, so much as two members of that family. This pair includes the tallest Holmes-Watson (1) noun; Sherlock, and the shortest Holmes-Watson (2) noun; Rosemund.
Count the second: These two are not inclined toward enthusiasms so much as passions. Or not really passions so much as manias. This is to say that Sherlock and his daughter Rosie go absolutely bug-fuck for things they love.
Sherlock's fixations include studying cigarette ash, one hundred and fifty-two kinds at last count (now with tobacco from the Holy See, Malta, and Nauru). His wardrobe still houses the aftermath of Sherlock's blue scarf period, during which he bought thirty-eight scarves, every one in a subtly different shade of blue. And the less said in polite company about his ongoing fixation with flesh-eating beetles the better.
So, as you might imagine, it's been easy for Rosemund Holmes-Watson to develop the occasional idée fixe. A few over the years have included:
* Cataloging turbellaria, beginning of course with the parasitic but progressing to the marine flatworm, a passion about which she once spoke for three hours, never noticing John left the room six times to prepare dinner.
* Mustards of every and all kind, focusing on sinus-clearing experiments in which she made her own sweet, grainy, spicy, French, Chinese, and American.
* Brushing the teeth of the neighbourhood dogs. Before you think this is a strange thing about which to get impassioned remember that Rosie's the daughter of a man who thinks a bowl of fresh intestines is a sweet gift, and also the daughter of the man who fell in love with that man the day he met him. These are an unusual people.
This brings us to Rosemund Holmes-Watson's very first and perhaps most profound enthusiasm, which manifest in her eighth month of life and was for flip-flops. As in flip-flops, the inexpensive, rubbery footwear with a thong between the toes.
Though flip-flops come in every colour and pattern possible, Rosie never showed interest in any style but bee.
She was just learning to crawl at the same time she was beginning to teethe and so as soon as that child noted a pair of bee-embossed thongs in her vicinity she would scamper toward them at full speed and proceed to gum them like an insane thing. That the flip-flop was sometimes on a person's foot didn't bother the child at all.
So marked was Rosie's preference for bees, and Sherlock's delight in that preference, that there was always some sort of bee flip-flop in 221B the entire time Rosie was teething. That child chewed through more than three dozen pairs before John figured out that a great whacking hunk of hose pipe worked just as well and lasted a lot longer. Sherlock was crushed.
It was as Rosie's first molars were popping up somewhere at a year and a half that she started showing a strong preference for chewing on lab tubing—clear silicone preferred but rubber would do in a pinch. Sherlock was once again delighted.
Chocolamousse gave me the flip-flop fetish prompt and I quoted her almost exactly except a lot more melodrama and also bees. P.S. Hose pipe is the British term for garden hose. P.P.S. No lie, there's over three dozen bee-styled flip-flops. P.P.P.S. If you want to feel like you must be drunk but without the detriment of having to actually drink, do read the surreal series of comments between myself and Chocolamousse as regards this fic. It's, um, it's totally bug-fuck.
Chapter 10: Yeth, Your Majesty
Chapter by AtlinMerrick
Of all the things John Watson wants for Rosemund, he wants most of all happiness and he has to acknowledge she may find that happiness in things with which neither of her fathers agree.
Still and all, after the thing with the gold lamé and tiara they really need to talk to that child.
"Rosamund Watson-Holmes-Morstan, you are not taking part in a beauty pageant. That is the end of that."
Rosamund Of-the-Many-Names-When-Poppa-Is-Angry bowed her four-year-old head, said "yeth your majethty," and exited the sitting room with grace and a sarcastic back. (Yes, yes you can if you've learnt from the best.)
Behind his newspaper John Watson-Holmes quietly lost his shit, Sherlock chastised him for the ridiculous things 'our daughter is learning from you' and everyone thought that was the end of that.
It was not.
Three days later Rosamund the Brilliant (she had earlier that day schooled Lestrade on his incorrect usage of the word reagent) revisited the pageant topic by crafting herself a cape made of her father's Belstaff, then sashayed around the sitting room in it.
Without even looking away from his experiment Rosie's poppa said, "You will not prance around on a stage and be judged for your prettiness."
Rosie said "yeth your highneth," John giggled, Sherlock began to admonish his husband about the lessons he was teaching their child, but then the experiment caught fire, everyone had other things to distract them awhile, and that seemed the end of that.
It was not.
Forty-eight hours later Rosie piled Sherlock's favourite blue scarf atop her head like a crown, clutched an Ostwald–Folin pipette like a sceptre, and pretended to give an interview to an unseen audience.
When Sherlock assured the child she would not be partaking in a cavalcade, procession, tableau, or extravaganza that perpetuated a backward and barbaric view of humans with an XX chromosome pair, the child said, "thertainly your majethty," and buggered off to her bedroom.
The next day saw Rosemund Watson-Holmes-Morstan unearthing the tiara poppa had worn for the Frognal Fake Royal case, followed the next day by ten tiny fingers in the flashy rings he'd worn for the Ruxley Race case, which culminated in the wee child wearing the gold lamé dress Sherlock'd donned for the Derry Downs Deadly Disco case, and that, finally, was the end of that for Sherlock.
"John, we have to talk to our daughter," he said in front of their daughter, who ignored them both as she clomped back and forth in front of the fire in Sherlock's favourite Louboutin stilettos. "A Christmas beauty pageant John. John."
Look, John agrees with Sherlock, he does. He also knows their child is a four-year-old genius who does not have to be genius in everything. Of all the things John Watson wants for Rosemund, he wants most of all happiness and he has to acknowledge that the child may find that happiness in things neither of her fathers agree with. Still and all, John agrees, they need to talk to the child.
So John tugged Sherlock off the sofa and they stretched out on their bellies on the hearth rug.
A poppa on one side, a daddy on the other, Rosemund Watson-Holmes-Morstan drew awhile and it didn't take a poppa, a daddy, or a genius to see that her stick figure was wearing cape and crown, spindly wrists wrapped in bracelets, feet hiked up in high heels. And, though no parent wants their child to accept limits put on her by strangers with no right to grant privileges they themselves have taken away, neither did John want he or Sherlock denying their daughter the privilege to like what she likes. If that was pink, if that was tiaras, then that had to be okay, too.
As if to underscore the point, Rosemund added a flourish of fuchsia lipstick to her stick figure, nodded her head with finality, announcing, "A printheth!"
And that was when Sherlock Holmes and John Watson had themselves a light bulb moment.
"Rosemund," said Sherlock, "what colour hair do princesses have?"
Tongue out the side of her mouth Rosie scrawled a few black curls beneath the crown.
"Rosie," said John, "what do princesses wear under their capes?"
This required a bit more thought, but shortly Rosie drew the boxy outline of a suit.
"Ros—" both daddy and poppa began together but the child was leagues ahead (as she always would be), and was already drawing a pocket magnifier in the princess' hand, to which she added a wedding band after a moment's thought.
Because in the world of Rosemund Watson-Holmes-Morstan, daddy has always called poppa his princess and your majesty, and poppa sometimes wore pretty dresses and sparkly jewelry for cases, so of course when Rosie heard about the holiday princess pageant of course she wanted to be in it, an' maybe poppa would let her borrow all his princess things, his rings and his crowns and his high heels an' everything!
Once her fathers caught up to their tiny genius, of course poppa did.
In a blue scarf, a baby Belstaff, three strands of pearls, two tiaras, and almost more bracelets than her tiny arms could hold, Rosemund was the very, very prettiest consulting princess in the whole damn winter festival.
Naranghim suggested little Rosie's 'yes, your majesty,' while MJ-poshboy221b asked for winter pageant costume-making and here we are. (Though I did quite veer from your specifics, thank you so much MJ and Naranghim!)
Chapter 11: Pre-occupational Hazards
Chapter by 221b_hound
Sherlock and John, those two men of science, read, inferred, deduced and even guessed a lot of the challengesof parenthood. The literature and the clever guessing did not, however, prepare them for some of the more mortifying hazards. Exhaustion, habit and distraction are a dangerous combination.
Until Rosie, neither John not Sherlock had really spent a lot of time around babies, infants, small children. They’re smart though, those two men of science, and they managed to read, infer, deduce and even guess a lot of the challenges. (The rewards they experienced uniquely for themselves.)
The literature and the clever guessing did not, however, prepare them for some of the more mortifying hazards of parenting. Exhaustion, habit and distraction are a dangerous combination.
John stands with Rosie on one hip, a spoon of pumpkin puree that Rosie is refusing to eat in one hand and his hair sticking up like an electrified hedgehog because he hasn’t had time to find a comb.
“Come on sweetie, for Daddy.” He jogs her in his arms. She grizzles. He pushes the spoon against her lip. “Open wide sweetie, there you go, in we go and…”
Rosie spits pureed pumpkin out her mouth and down her chin and on his shirt he’s been wearing for three days. It’s partly residual tongue-thrust reflex and partly the poor night sleep, which could be because her first teeth might be coming through. Partly it’s because her Papa has been away for 36 hours and Daddy is a tiny bit worried and also had to do all the getting up to crying Rosie all by himself for a change.
“Come on, sweetie,” says John, more desperately, putting down the pumpkin and reaching one-handed for one of the alternatives he put on the table in readiness. Cauliflower cheese. She likes cauliflower cheese.
“There, sweetheart, there Rosie girl, there, there,” he says, bouncing her gently in his arms and trying to undo the lid and thinking the Taliban didn’t kill him but Cow and Gate’s twist-top lids just might. “Hush sweetie, good girl, this fucking lid, ssh ssh, don’t listen to Daddy, sweetie, oopsy daisy, just a…” he nearly drops the jar, “fuckety fucking fuck...”
And suddenly Greg Lestrade’s hand appears, takes the jar, opens it, pops the spoon in, hands it back, and John says, “Thanks sweetie.”
He’s watching his little sweetie nom down the puree like it’s manna from heaven before realising.
“That’s okay, honeybunch,” says Greg, grinning wickedly.
John would have facepalmed but he didn’t have any hands left.
For another example.
Rosie is sitting in the shopping trolley, facing front, while Sherlock pushes her round, concentrating on the shelves. They used to have the shop down pretty well, but Rosie’s needs are changing, so Sherlock spends time comparing brands for quality, additives, preferences. He’s also goddamned knackered from discovering last night that Rosie can climb out of her cot, descend the stairs and stand bawling at their bedroom door that she’s lost Buzzy Bee. John spent half an hour finding the blasted toy, and then she wouldn’t settle until finally she passed out, starfished on the bed between them.
Rosie mimics her papa by reaching for things with her little hands. She drops them sometimes and is a bloody nuisance for a bit.
Rosie’s getting more dextrous with her toddler fingers and she likes to sing to herself, so he doesn’t pay much attention when she starts messing about with his shirt and burbling to herself. Frankly, it’s a relief that she’s stopped dropping punnets of blueberries.
He shops. Rosie plucks at his shirt and sings to herself. It’s positively peaceful.
Until he pulls into the checkout and realises, when the cashier gives him a wide-eyed look and then a wink, that Rosie has unbuttoned him from neck to bellybutton and he’s flashing an acre of bare skin to the staff.
He can only be grateful, as he hastily re-buttons to the sounds of Rosie’s protests, that the surprise striptease missed showing off the fading bruise of the lovebite on his right pec from that opportunist Afternoon Delight he and John had two days ago while Rosie had an unscheduled nap.
There was the time Molly sneezed and Sherlock absent-mindedly held up a tissue and wiped her nose.
There was the time John was driving Mrs Hudson to a specialist dental appointment and kept up a running commentary, “There’s a doggy. Look at the policeman. A garbage truck!’ before realising what he was doing.
There was the time Mycroft came to visit and John cut up a slice of fruitcake into pieces for little hands, and the time Sherlock had to empty his pocket of half-chewed sweets, two hair ribbons and a broken toy dinosaur before he could find the safety deposit key he’d dropped in there. It was sticky. (He still solved the case, though.)
John has come home to discover he’s still wearing his pyjamas under button up and coat; Sherlock has dealt with the horror of getting up to pee and without thinking asking the restaurant gathering “Does anyone need to go to the toilet?” (Molly decided she did.)
Nobody ever warned them that dignity would be the first casualty of parenthood.
Nobody told them, either, that they wouldn’t particularly care. Not when Rosie has finally settled, full of Cow and Gate cauliflower cheese and is trustingly half asleep on John’s shoulder while Greg explains that Sherlock is ten minutes behind him with a new baby chair for Rosie. Not when Rosie had finally fallen asleep, starfished, one little hand in Papa’s hair and the other in Daddy’s pyjama shirt. Not when, at Tescos, she claps her hands and giggles from the shopping trolley seat when he finished buttoning up and told the cashier proudly, “My Papa’s a Princess!”
Occasional embarrassment among friends is nothing compared to Rosie pointing things out from the car and naming things herself: “Puppy! Pleeseman! Gubbage truck!” and remembering she’d pushed the dinosaur into your pocket “so you won’t be lonely without Daddy and me”.
Let’s face it: Sherlock and john were used to occupational social awkwardness for years before their daughter took the skill to new heights, and they wouldn’t trade it in for anything.
(Except maybe, dear god please, one good night of sleep.)
Chapter 12: Competitive Parenting
Chapter by 221b_hound
The parents outside Rosie's school like to play rounds of Competitive Parenting. John tries not to take part. Sherlock wins.
Many thanks to A Secret Scribbler for the idea and assistance
“Blayne’s reading so far ahead of his group,” says Kara, “I’m looking at getting him into an accelerated class.”
John grits his teeth as he and Sherlock wait with the other parents at the school gate. Here we go.
“Juliette’s already doing advanced reading with a tutor,” says Marcus. “She’s writing poetry now,” adds Marcus proudly. “She got two gold stars from Miss Pirbright for her cat poem.”
“Not sure it was all Juliette’s own work,” John murmurs for Sherlock’s ears only. Sherlock hums, apparently deep in thought. Sherlock’s not always here when the waiting Mums and Dads play a round of Competitive Child Development. John tries to resist joining in, but he feels obscurely like he’s letting Rosie down by not boosting her achievements.
“Indiana’s most expressive in art, like his grandad. My dad has paintings in the Tate,” says Faye in a tone that suggests skills with words are for stodgy children fit only for a career in insurance.
“Meaghan adores watercolours,” says Neil, “She’s a naturally delicate child, such a light touch.”
John last saw Meaghan drawing what might have been a cow pat, so he’s unconvinced.
“Blayne’s a wonderful artist,” leaps in Kara, refusing to give another child a win, “His figures are very sophisticated, his teacher says.”
“Juliette’s art tutor says it’s wonderful that we’re properly nurturing her talent.”
“Has Rosie improved at all,” asks Faye, all solicitous, “or is she still drawing stick figures?”
“She draws skeletons,” says John firmly.
“Very accurate skeletons,” says Sherlock, mildly for him. (Rosie’s ‘stick figures’ are her latest obsession, and full of superb detail, like placing a patella between the thigh bones and the tibia and fibula below. She even draws wrist bones and almost all of the phalanges.)
“Oh,” says Neil, and then can’t think of anything else to say.
“She can name them too,” murmurs John, mostly to Sherlock again.
“This vying for supremacy is ludicrous,” declares Sherlock suddenly for all to hear. His voice carries but it is calm and stern, like Miss Pirbright calling the children to order for a school trip. “Children are individuals with varying skills, interests and rates of development. This urge to diminish their personal individuality does them a disservice. Comparing Rosie’s skeletons to Juliette’s cat poem or Meaghan’s watercolours as though it’s a competition is unworthy of our children and clearly the result of parental insecurity. Using children to wage a futile social war is at best meaningless and at worst is unjust to each child’s unique gifts.”
Before anyone can take either enlightenment or offence, dozens of seven year olds come running, giggling and excited, through the school gates.
Rosie runs to her dads, schoolbag bouncing on her back and a creature made of cardboard and ice cream sticks in her hand.
“I made a bear! See!” A curl of cardboard makes the snout; a larger tube the body. She’s bound sticks together with string so that it has knees. She’s drawn the claws and teeth on in red.
“He’s fierce,” notes John.
“She eats berries,” says Rosie. “Fiercely,” she concedes.
John makes growly noises to make Rosie giggle. Sherlock, a hand on John’s back, praises the obvious bearness of the bear and asks its name.
“Ursa Minor,” says Rosie, as though he should have been able to deduce that, then gives him the bear.
They walk home, John holding one hand, Sherlock the other, while she natters about Miss Pirbright and Rosie’s new friend Nancy and the school guinea pig.
At Baker street, Rosie enjoys her after-school milk and a scone with Mrs Hudson, and shows off Ursa Minor, while her dads go upstairs.
“That was very wise, what you said back there,” says John. “Very mature.”
He sounds serious and proud but also maybe just a little bit miffed.
Sherlock snorts a scornful snort.
“They’re all idiots,” says Sherlock, and his scornful tone is even more epic than the snort. “Rosie’s clearly well ahead of that dreary pack. She can draw and name the bones, John. She conducts straightforward food-based chemistry experiments and writes creditable reports on the results. She is a bullseye with a ping pong ball and coffee cup. She is a superior child in every way, but I won’t have those morons comparing her to their feeble spawn who aren’t a tenth as gifted as our girl.”
John is beaming at the love of his life. He feels slightly guilty at how proud this tirade makes him feel, but there is the fact that Rosie is as wondrous as Sherlock states, so not very guilty.
He kisses Sherlock lightly on the lips.
“That’s our girl,” he agrees.
Sherlock pulls John in for a hug and a deeper kiss.
“Our girl is exemplifies the pinnacle of the combined power of nature/nurture,” says Sherlock.
To congratulate each other on winning the Competitive Parenting game, John and Sherlock take half an hour to enjoy a little afternoon treat of their own.
It does not involves scones, milk or Ursa Minor, although there is some playful growling.