I smother a third slice of toast with taramasalata, and skulk away from the toaster. My guilt is compounded by a downwards glance which gives me cause to remark aloud to the empty kitchen: ‘I can see why it’s called a jelly belly’.
Weary with defeat, I crack open the bottle of beer that not two hours ago I vowed to leave unopened as a treat for the man of the house.
It was all going so well this evening. Granted, one son faithfully delivered his nightly performance of The Exorcist j-u-s-t as I was making dinner, but we recovered well.
(I swear he’s been this way since birth – when hunger strikes it hits him hard and no matter what time I start preparing supper you can bet your bottom dollar he’ll be pleading for a snack minutes before meal time…
… Tonight I was probably to blame. I enticed him away from his grandparents’ house with an elicit mention of the croissants I’d picked up while shopping earlier in the day, but when he seemed to forget about them upon entering the house I figured I could have dinner on the table before he’d remember. Wrong. Cue wailing and door slamming because I wouldn’t oblige with croissants – and hot chocolate, no less – as an appetizer ahead of bangers and mash.)
I served up peas on the understanding that one son adores them. Or so he told me. Wrong again.
When croissant-gate was over there were smiles at the table and tea was declared ‘the best ever’. Pudding was as much fruit as I could persuade into them along with yoghurt, mini meringues, and a drizzle of golden syrup. Followed by a croissant and hot chocolate for one. Yes, really.
I washed up the day’s dishes – an endless task – while the boys watched TV. When a tired squabble erupted out of nowhere we turned the TV off and I sent them off to wage war with Star Wars figures instead of one another.
Stupidly, I perched on the edge of my desk chair and scanned through the day’s work emails. Minutes later I was absorbed in a quick but complicated email exchange and when another squabble drew me from my concentration I felt disproportionately harangued.
One boy had hit another, as boys are wont to do, but in that moment all the days of endlessly urging ‘no hitting’ erupted into impatient fatigue and I raised my voice and sent both boys to their room. They protested loudly and refused – as boys are wont to do – and the battle of wills threw me over the edge. I may have unplugged the Wii and brandished it aloft while threatening ill-considered consequences unless my instructions were obeyed.
Not my finest hour. Hence the easy comfort of stolen beer and too much taramasalata.
We all calmed down, and clambered into my bed for cuddles and a debrief. We ended the day with books and tickling and laughter but I seek the cheap solace of white bread and beer because I have this nagging feeling that all they’ll remember in the years to come is the yelling and the day she nearly threw the Wii out of the kitchen window.