It turns out he did tip the smoothie down the bathroom sink.
Now here’s where I think I ran into a bit of trouble with my blogging. Not that I was ever a mummy blogger in the strict sense of the way people (mis)use that term, but certainly my experiences as the mother of very young children coloured my blog simply because they coloured my thinking. If my four-year-old or six-year-old had screwed his nose up at a smoothie because his dad used honey yoghurt instead of vanilla I daresay it would have been funny. It would have been a bit of light relief from a life of physical and emotional intensity.
But now he’s ten. Dealing with a smoothie that’s been tipped down the sink is something less than funny and something more of an entanglement, no?
I grew up in the kind of house where you ate what was on your plate and you didn’t complain. As a parent, I don’t really work that way, because yes, I reckon if someone goes to the effort of putting a meal in front of you, you give it a go, but I rarely tell people that they have to finish eating what’s on their plate or drinking what’s in their glass. Two things: I think forcing people to eat is gross; and I abhor rich people wasting food or water. Another thing: he’s not a fussy eater, but he’s got a small grazing range. Another thing: you get into a battle of wills with that lad you are going to lose. One final thing: drinking a smoothie made with honey instead of vanilla is no great hardship even if you’re not really a fan of honey.
When he first left the kitchen, smoothie in hand, I thought about telling the lad that he had to come back to the table instead of walking out of the kitchen with his glass. I thought about not going up to his room to collect the glass. And I definitely thought about not looking in the bathroom sink. I did not follow any of my own internal advice.
He had done a pretty good job of disposing of the evidence, but he’s 10 and I’m 44 and I’ve spent all his life observing him where he hasn’t really learned to think like anyone except himself. See? Me, I would have flushed it down the toilet because I would have known those chunks of mango are gonna be a bugger to dispose of.
I thought about not mentioning it, because you know, once you mention it, you have to follow through. And because I knew the minute I mentioned it he would deny it, and then we’d be dealing with not just the deception, but a more calculated lie.
But then I thought, It was really wrong what he did and he needs to be held to account. So when we were in the car driving home from school and after they had said everything they needed to say about the day’s exams, I casually said, with a hint of a laugh which was supposed to give him space to be honest and to keep his pride, ‘So, did you really drink that smoothie this morning?’
You know what he said, don’t you?
‘Yes.’ With a tone of great offence. And then put his nose back in his book.
I left it for a couple of hours until the dinner had been cooked and consumed and the table had been cleared. Eldest was on the computer looking for Rubik’s cube hacks, I was on my laptop determined to squeeze out the rest of the day’s quota of words. And youngest was at the table, looking in the thesaurus.
This is him: ‘A…’ flick flick flick ‘b’ flick flick flick ‘c’ flick flick flick
This is me: ‘With regard to the smoothie…it’s just I saw there was quite a bit of smoothie in the bathroom sink.’
Him again: ‘f’ flick flick flick ‘g’ flick flick flick
And me: ‘So I think maybe you didn’t drink it and maybe you tipped it down the sink.’
Him: ‘h’ flick flick flick ‘i…right’
Him (still without taking his head out of the thesaurus): ‘All right. I drank half of it and half of it I tipped down the sink…icy, idea, ideal, idealistic…’
Me: ‘You know in some houses you would be punished for that.’
Him: ‘identical, identification’
Me still talking although I am 44 and should know better: ‘What are you looking for anyway?’
Him: ‘Ha! Here it is…fool, ass, dolt, imbecile, simpleton…’
Me: ‘That doesn’t sound very nice.’
Voice of lad sitting at the computer: ‘You said we aren’t allowed to call each other idiot.’
Me: ‘Everyone clean your teeth and go to bed.’
And that is a picture of me, doing what everyone tells you you will do, but you never believe them. Wishing my children were toddlers again.