Squeezing out the Truth
Love Chunks sidled up behind me and tapped me gently on the shoulder. "Kath? Erm, can you come out here, I need to speak to you about something."
"What?" asked Sapphire automatically. She's long past the spelling words-we-don't-want-her-to-hear over the top of her head or being oblivious to subtle hints and winks: if she's not involved in one of our conversations then it must be about her. "But I haven't punched James in the guts since I got into trouble for it last week and remember you made me clean out the hand soap I'd squished into the toilet brush holder yesterday and ---"
"It's OK Sapph. Sometimes Dad and I have to speak about grown up things that will only bore you."
I hate that question. With a human age of eight-and-five-sixths and a mental age of 45, she's extremely difficult to put off. It was time to really grope my grey matter.
"You know - stuff like how many chillies we'll put in your dinner tonight; what type of insurance we need for the house and contents; how the new government is shaping up after their first 100 days in office; what kind of drought-tolerant native plants we'll put in our north-facing garden area and whether we should consider giving you sugarless carob for Easter instead of decent stuff."
Her horrified face and silence said it all: no more questions from me, Mum.
Outside in the hall way, Love Chunks looked worried. "Love, I know that you have irritable bowel - lord knows I've seen more than my share of your non-flushables, but I think you need to take a look at your last effort."
"Wh-a-a-a-a-a-t?" My last effort?
Well hammer my face to the side of an ant-hill and butter my ears with jam! Had I just backed out two cancers?
"Well....?" Love Chunks wanted a response. "Does this happen to you, um, often?"
Then it dawned on me. "No sweet heart. In fact never. Take a closer look."
He did, gulping nervously. "Well they look pretty painful to me...."
Straightening up, I said, "Well, it would be more of an amazing achievement if I actually could blast out two red globe grapes after they'd endured the roller coaster ride through to my rectum only to emerge at the entrance to the S-bend in perfect condition. Look again - Sapphire's flushed them down because she didn't want to eat them."
We smiled at each other. Sapphire loathes fruit. Detests it. In every shape, colour, flavour or form. Exotic, local, sliced, diced, stewed or canned. She avoids eating fruit like other kids avoid boiled cabbage or having their ears cleaned out with a cotton bud. She knows that her excesma, hay-fever and asthma will improve if she eats a decent amount but her genuine distaste for the stuff means that we normally have to sit and watch her struggle her way through a tiny serve of fresh strawberries, pineapple or grapes: whatever will tempt her. Bananas in particular distress her so much she has to leave the room if she even sees someone start to peel one.
Luckily, she adores vegetables. I'll never forget the day we were in Coles, filling up our bags with the weeks' greens. Sapph picked up a net bag of pre-packed brussels and called out to me (I was elbow-deep into the cashews): "Hey Mum, how about these? I just love brussels sprouts." A lady of similar age to me immediately wheeled her trolley over and whispered, "Is that child yours? Is this a joke?" We left her still gazing up at the ceiling for hidden cameras.
Back to the present day. Love Chunks and I stood in the laundry loo, wiping away the tears of laughter so that we could wear our serious 'We're not happy with you' expressions in dealing with Sapphire's fruit flushing fiasco. How to punish her - make her eat a banana? Lecture her about the price of fruit these days? Frighten her about the damage that the lack of Vitamin C can cause growing children?
Nah. Love Chunks made her fish the two offending articles out, put them in the bin and then wash her hands thoroughly. I made her eat two more grapes and took away her Nintendo DS-lite for a week. In her lunchbox today, instead of the cut-up cubes of watermelon, honeydew or rock melon, she got carrot sticks. As she packed her bag, she took a peek and squealed, "Oh wow, carrots! Thanks Mum!"
Somehow I don't think she's going to end up being described as "She was always such a quiet neighbour, always keeping to herself," to the local news crews after being arrested as a serial killer. Unless the victims are bananas and plums of course.