I am standing with the hamster securely locked in my cupped palms. Or so I think. I feel a tiny but determined skull forcing its way between my fingers. Sonshine has a plastic bag filled with hamster cage detritus that he is attempting to take out to the compost heap. I need him to do it quickly now as Nibbles needs to go back into his cage.
Currently it is locked.
Me: Just open the back door and put the bag on the step. I need to get Nibbles into his cage NOW!
Sonshine: I can't find the back door key....
Me: Look in my jacket pocket. QUICK!
Sonshine: It's not in your handbag....
Me: My jacket pocket. MY JACKET POCKET. Look in my jacket pocket!
Nibbles is now burrowing his way to freedom. Or should I say, burrowing HER* way to freedom, between my fingers.
Sonshine: Is this it?
(shows me car keys)
Me: Did you look in my jacket pocket?
Sonshine: Do you want me to look in your jacket pocket?
Me: For Chrissakes LOOK IN MY JACKET POCKET. Can you not HEAR ME?
The key is duly found.
In my jacket pocket.
Nibbles has almost lost a foot as I struggled to keep her* from escaping.
Lesson learned: Always have the backdoor key in the lock OR Always ensure Nibbles' cage is unlocked OR Never ask an 11 year-old to help when things get to the wire.
* We got a leaflet from the petshop on how to sex your hamster. Nibbles is utterly smooth down there, therefore he is a girl. But Sonshine will not hear of this. Nibbles remains a boy. This may result in serious psychosexual problems for the hamster, but I'll just have to cope with the guilt on my own.
We are lying comfortably on the sofa with a fleecy blanket over us. It is winter. This is a Victorian house. We snuggle. The British Airways advert comes on TV:
We watch the pilots and passengers change through the decades until we get to present day BA pilots. I like this advert a lot for some reason, possibly because The Meerkat's impossibly organised mother is a First Class Cabin Crew person.
'They're going to put their slogan back on their planes' tail fins.' I tell Sonshine.
'Yes, you know - their motto. It's in the advert. Can you remember what it is?'
He considers this for a moment and says: 'No refunds?'
I ponder the wisdom of having this emblazoned worldwide on their BA tail fins and not 'To Fly. To Serve' as they are currently planning and decide to write to Ryanair with the idea in the morning.
He is standing in his pjs at the sink. He has developed an interest in combing his hair. I suspect A Girl.
'Any sign of a girlfriend?' I ask nonchelantly as I sit on the toilet pan (lid down. Of course.)
'I just wondered, what with the interest in your hair and the daily squirting of your dad's good Gucci aftershave.....'
'Well, there's Amy, of course.'
I have heard of no Amu. This is news to me and I want to know EVERYTHING about her.
'Amy? Don't know that name. What's she like?'
'Yanno - is she tall, short. Does she have dark or fair hair? Does she have long or short hair? Good at sports?
He held up a small hand, still brandishing the toothbrush and considered how to describe this paragon of loveliness in his class.
'Well, she's CLEAN,' he said.
And there's your proof right there that he's Tartarus's issue.
We're in the kitchen. I'm cooking. Yes, a rare moment. Sonshine has washed his hands and is sitting on his little stool at the table.
Me (stirring) 'Hmmmmmm?'
Sonshine: 'What's an orgasm?'
Me coughing violently (to buy me a few moments of time) 'Why do you want to know that?' I stutter.
He is 11. When I was 11 the only questions that I asked my mother revolved around whether she reckoned I could be a Saint like Bernadette of Lourdes. I seem to remember that my questions brought about exactly the same sort of response from her too.
Sonshine: 'What IS an orgasm?'
Me: ' Well, what do YOU think it might be?'
Sonshine: 'Is it something to do with carrots?'
I am about to say 'no' when I wonder just what they might be talking about up in the playground these days? Perhaps it WAS something to do with carrots. And orgasms. There's a lot of strange DVDs going about these days, so, dear reader I said:
'You can ask your dad about that when he comes home in a couple of weeks'
*mental note* must warn Tartarus before that moment arises so that we have an honest, but non-detailed response.
I wish he'd just asked whether he might become Bernadette of Lourdes.