Yesterday, Boy had a friend round for tea after school.
As a working parent I normally miss these sorts of events. I’m normally busy fiddling with a spreadsheet or on a conference call about toothbrushes or trying to find out where Darren the Office Junior* has hidden my collection of highlighter pens. Or else I am sitting on a stationary train outside a Surrey Council Estate next to the world’s fattest commuter watching them play Solitaire on their fucking i-Pad (why is it whenever we invent some new and brilliant technology the only thing anyone ever does with it is play Solitaire which they could do with an actual pack of cards for fucks sake). So I never quite see how these things pan out. However yesterday I was working from home which meant I came downstairs right in the middle of the tea date.
They had been playing remarkably nicely together. His friend is a lovely child and we get on really well with the parents. They played the Wii together, didn’t argue and even let Whirlwind join in. I packed away my laptop and started to cook for everyone. Naturally I made Sausages Chips and Beans. At one point I didn’t think the sausages were browning quickly enough and turned up the heat a bit. When I turned them next the little black line showed me that I might have turned it up TOO high and I turned it down again, giving the rest of the sausages a nice even browning.
I called them in to eat. What I didn’t mention about his friend is that, though he is indeed lovely and they get on very well he is also cheeky. Very cheeky. He looked at his sausages. “What are these black bits?” he asked. “We don’t have black bits on the sausages at my house.”
I know he was just asking because they were different but in my mind’s eye I saw Gordon Ramsay losing it. “WHAT THE FUCK ARE THESE? OVERCOOKED SHIT! HOW THE FUCK AM I SUPPOSED TO SERVE THESE TO THE DINERS? YOU SEE MARY OVER THERE ON TABLE 12? IF SHE EATS EVEN A MICROGRAM OF BURNED STUFF SHE DIES! DO YOU WANT TO BRING ACTUAL FUCKING DEATH TO MY DINING ROOM? MAKE THEM AGAIN. MAKE THEM AGAIN RIGHT NOW AND DON’T MAKE THEM SHIT! HOW LONG?”
“About 10 minutes chef” I’d reply. Then I’d hang up my apron and cry.
The sausages, by the way, are probably the fattiest thing I have cooked for the whole of January. I am a few pounds over my ideal fighting weight. I’m over forty now! I thought this was allowed, that it was a sign of contented middle-age, but according to my wife it’s not. We are officially on a health kick. Lots of veg and poached things. Less booze. Almost no sausages at all. Also I am about to start cycling regularly for the first time since I was about 17. So steps are in hand to reduce the spare tyreage. Just as well.
After tea the boys were playing the Wii again when Boy’s friend suddenly came over to me. “You’ve got a big fat tummy” he said. Then he poked it to make sure it really was a tummy and I wasn’t smuggling a beach ball or giving birth to a small elephant. I know it was just a 5 year old boy being cheeky but in my minds eye I saw Daniel Callahan addressing someone who is one donut away from a gastric band.
“YOU DISGUSTING WASTE OF SPACE. HOW DARE YOU BREATHE THE SAME AIR AS NORMAL PEOPLE FATTY? I BET YOU HAVEN’T SEEN YOUR DICK IN MONTHS! DROP DOWN AND GIVE ME 5 PUSH UPS. NO? CAN YOU EVEN MANAGE ONE? YOU’RE FILTH! NOW WALK ROUND WEARING THIS SIZE 86 T-SHIRT THAT SAYS ‘I AM A DISGUSTING MESS’ ON IT BEFORE I ROLL YOU ON THE FLOOR LIKE A SMALL CHILD’S WEEBLE.”
The boys went back to playing the Wii revealing a wife who was nearly crying with laughter.
I realise now that she’s right about the weight losing.
I realise that despite being as hands on as possible there are many things about small children that I still have to learn and that she shields me from.
Most of all I realise how much fun it is sitting on a train stuck outside a Surrey Council Estate next to the world’s fattest commuter watching them play Solitaire on their fucking i-Pad.
*I don’t really sell toothbrushes or have an office junior called Darren but my real job isn’t even as exciting as that.