E and I are at the table, as he eats his tea. The radio is on in the background as it is news time, providing me with a pretence that I am keeping up with what is going on outside of recent plot lines of Bob the Builder and improving my knowledge of the world.
E and I chat about nonsense, mainly concerning Spiderman or enquiries from E as to how tall he might grow, both recent hot topics, before there is a lull in the conversation. Our ears drift to the radio, as a story is being relayed about a man suing for defamation of character over a tabloid’s description of him as a sex offender. I am only partially paying attention, but unfortunately, E is obviously concentrating hard.
“What’s a six sommender, mummy?” asks E as he takes a bite of toast.
Oh my lord. For one crazy, crazy moment, my brain starts to process how to explain what a sex offender is, a by-product of that parental habit of explaining everything, from where electricity comes from to how the wind makes the clouds move. Quickly I realise the inappropriateness of what I am considering, which moves my brain to stage two: a general state of flummoxedness. This may well not be a proper word, but it certainly is a proper state of mind as a parent of a toddler.
I sigh. It’s been a long day. The highlights of which include a sit-down protest outside Tesco for reasons that never became precisely clear but ended in me carrying E under my arm like a second hand rug back to the car, a teeth-grindingly irritating go-slow when asked to put his shoes on culminating in his somewhat unnecessarily supercilious plea of “be patient, mummy,” and an insistence that throwing toys to within six foot of the toy chest does, in fact, constitute tidying up.
And now he wants to know what a sex offender is. All I want is a bloody large glass of wine. Neither of us, I fear, will get what we want out of this. I have stalled for so long trying to get my way round the question without resorting to the rather pathetic ‘I don’t know’ response that he asks again.
“What’s a six cementer?”
Brilliant. His mis-remembering of the word has given me a way out. “Ah,” I reply. “A six cementer. It’s like a cement mixer, but it mixes lots of cement at once. So you can glue bricks together. Six, in fact.”
E takes another bite of toast. I wait with baited breath, in case he follows up with a supplementary question, seeking further clarification. These secondary questions, asked with the innocence of an enquiring three year old’s mind have a habit of exposing bullshit with the accuracy of a trained marksman. But thankfully, no further question is forthcoming, mainly due to a large mouthful of peanut buttered toast sticking his tongue to the roof of his mouth.
I casually saunter over to the radio and turn it off. That’s enough bloody self improvement for one day. Next time, I’ll stick to Bob the bloody Builder.