Half truths and grey lies

We leave the very small house. I wave as the front door shuts and take a lungful of air. I suspect it would be the same if it were a very large house, a mansion or a barn. “Oh mom, she is sooooo luckeeeeeeee,” squeals my daughter, enthused to bursting. Has she lost all sense after two weeks at camp?
“So …. she is.” I hope I sound genuine.
“Why can't we have 19 cats too?”
“Um…..” I wonder if we could fit in an extra girl? But then children are always happiest with their own families. I know she is loved. I know she is happy and I am judgmental old numbskull. I opt for truthful, “well we do have two cats, that's more than a lot of people have, don't you think?”
“Yeah, I “spose.”

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What senses would I trade for just a smidge of that innocence?

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Real Gents

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Ironically, the health food campaign comes a cropper. Suddenly I am a jailor on death row with my life set to 24 hour egg watcher, anything to stop him from grabbing the salt cellar and emptying it down his gullet. Maybe it's the shapeliness, or the pastel colours, but something has revived his need for sodium chloride. Inevitably my back is turned on one or other whilst I use my best extraction services.

I spend an inordinate amount of time chasing him all over the house. As he runs he chants his new mantra, 'you've got mail, you've got mail, you've got mail,' with more animation and expression than I could ever have imagined. When I pin him down to pry open his grinning jaws and sniff for evidence, he responds with his alternative mantra, “greased lightning!” and a chortle. It occurs to me that I have a missed career opportunity as a tracker dog. I also regret refilling the container, twice. I'm tempted to empty it down the sink to refill with castor sugar but I believe that would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

When I find the empty 16 ounce carton of raisins I realize that what with “one thing” and “several others,” that my supervisory skills are overwhelmed. I examine the potential candidates for tell tale signs. Which one is the guilty party? I have far too much choice. I consider the effect of 16 ounces of dried fruit upon the average digestive system but I have no hard data to rely upon.

Several hours later.

Post play dates, I have one child to collect. I work backwards to allow us to arrive on time with an allowance for the unexpected. We prepare to depart an hour in advance. Two boys.

I hear a small bleat from the bathroom.

From this particular child, it is the kind of bleat that doesn't really register, since volume control is generally off the scales. It is hard to find a suitable comparison. It's the kind of 'tsk' noise one might make on finding a piece of fluff on clothing. A quick flick and it's gone, of no consequence.

The bleat does not match the scene of devastation. I inadvertently squeak which brings his brother running in to observe, “what happen?” he asks unnecessarily as his eyes pop out on stalks. It is still a very small bathroom with very little room for manovres. It is difficult to know where to begin, so I make a start.

Once again I have cause to doubt my purchasing powers. Why did I buy the four pack of 16 oz raisins for $10 but shun the bargain of 32 oz bottle of liquid soap for $5.00?

My brain calculates other calculations. Is it safe to assume that this is the result of a raisin overdose or is that too many assumptions. Which is worse? Ask the play date host parent to return your child, even thought that wasn't the original plan or take a child with an unstable digestive system into the car to their home to collect your other child? Is it o.k. if the wobbly child remains in the car at a safe distance? Is this o.k. if I can guarantee no contact and keep the windows wound up? Is any of the later acceptable assuming that the said child can be sanitized and dressed prior to departure? Is it possible to sanitize and dress the child prior to departure, and myself? Where is Miss Manners when I need her?

I contemplate the play date host, a man with shared custody and a complicated life. There are many families with complicated lives. I suspect that there are also a few families without any complications, somewhere? The common feature of most families, is their share of happiness, complicated or otherwise. I hear the front door slam to announce the arrival of the cavalry, my eldest daughter. I explain. “No probs, you go, I'll be on bum watch.”

Horray! One less mind numbing decision to make.

I drive with careful speed to pull into their driveway where I meet 4 happy girls and a happy father with culinary skills, a blue tooth and a foreign accent.

But I would never be one to summarize a single dad in brief.
It seems to me that there are “dads” all over the “place,” both “chaps” and “chapesses” that ‘get it.’

Maybe I should add a poll? What would be the correct thing to do in such circumstances if the cavalry hadn't arrived? You never know, you might be next, on one end or the other of the toilet plunger?

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A one size fits all

As the time for the play date approaches I have a growing sense of dread. I have my own mother's words circulating through my skull, variations on 'don't be such a wimp.'

It's one thing to discipline my own children in my own home, but it's quite another to tackle someone else's child. It would be so easy to do irreparable harm, however unwittingly. I just don't know the child well enough.

In theory, I have decided on my approach, the one that I generally use. I practice in my head and anticipate reactions, but it's all just theory. The practice rarely turns out as planned.

When the first demand is bellowed I ignore it, or rather I pretend to ignore it. After a couple of repeated demands she comes to seek me out in the kitchen, “hey! I said I want a snack. Didn't ya hear me?” She turns on her heel and stomps back into the family room to continue playing. I swallow hard and ignore the yellow stripe down my back. Am I the only one afraid of ten year olds? I tiptoe into the family room to survey a relatively calm scene of play. I am cautious of the firecracker child. She glances up at me, or rather my empty hands, bristling. Her mouth drops open, presumably with outrage or disbelief, as I sit down next to her on the carpet. “You know “Rebecca,” in our house we try and use our indoor voices.”
“We try and use quiet voices so that we don't hurt our ears.” She looks at me as if I am a thing from another planet, which I probably am. Will she spontaneously combust?
“O.k. so can I have my snack now? Is that what ya want?”
“That is sooo much better, much easier to listen to.” She looks at me again. Is she checking for sarcasm?
“I'm going to get everyone a snack.”
“I'm going to start now and I should be ready in about five minutes. Here. Do you see this timer. The red bit shows five minutes. It would be great if you could wait those five minutes because there's six of you and only one of me.”
She looks at me. She looks at the timer.
“Is that o.k. with you?”
“Shall I tell you something else about our house?”
“When people say please and thank you, I work sooo much faster.” I attempt a smile to the unknowable child, the stun gun in the arsenal of sophisticated pre-teen population.

Save me from the typical types.

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