The fridge raider

“I’m being naughty in the kitchen mummy!” Midnight shouts.

He is torturing me. He knows I can’t come. I have been on hold to HMRC for 25 minutes but if I step out of the dining room I will lose reception and get cut off. I can hear ice cubes skidding across the kitchen floor as I wait to see if I have any gaps in my National Insurance contributions. 

I find myself wondering if a hole in my pension is worth the cost of a packet of half thawed chicken Kievs. 

When my call has finished the kitchen is quiet except for my husband who is washing up. This is not an unusual event but I do consider how he has managed to miss the food raiding activity.

There are little puddles on the floor where the ice cubes have perished, and a trail of peas leading out of the kitchen and upstairs. I open the freezer gingerly and an ice cream tub falls onto my foot.


My husband jumps. “You gave me a fright.” 

I hop about a bit and put the ice cream back and shove a bag of peas closed. Nothing else seems to be missing. I open the fridge. 

I am met with a trail of devastation. Midnight has taken several bites out of three apples and then balanced them precariously on top of a few regurgitated mushrooms.

The eggs are out of reach but he has managed to eat half a box of grapes leaving the skeleton of their buds quivering in the plastic container. There is humus smeared across one shelf and some cherry tomatoes have been released from their bag and have collected in a huddle in a puddle of milk.

I notice a chunk of cheese with teeth marks.

“He’s been at the cheese too,” I say exasperated.

My husband looks a little sheepish.

“You’ve been at the cheese.” 

“No no…” He seems keen to scrub the roasting tin.

“This is why he doesn’t eat his dinner.”

“And why our food bills are so high,” says my husband grumpily.

“I don’t think we can blame a four year old for the Tories…”

“But he must be the only one in the country who is wasting food.”

“He never goes for the tofu.” I observe.

“No one goes for the tofu,” says my husband.

I look at the tofu sitting there neatly in its square packet, all healthy and smug. Your time will come, I think quietly. 

Milk appears at the door. “Mayhem is crying about dinosaurs and Midnight is spitting food over my lego police station.” He sounds as if he has given up on ever saying a normal sentence again.

I stomp upstairs picking up detritus on the way.

I find Mayhem sobbing under his covers. “I was reading about dinosaurs and I got a paper cut and it’s the worst day EVER.”

I find it hard to see what is wrong with his thumb but I know I am on thin ice. If I don’t pay enough attention to the invisible injury, Mayhem will say I don’t care about him at all and that I love the other two more than him. He’s the middle one. He carries this baton fiercely.

Midnight catches wind of the situation. “Mayhem’s a baby,” he squeals gleefully.

And that’s when I notice Midnight is eating a red pepper as if it’s an apple, and the little white seeds are spilling into the lego box.

I wonder if anyone has invented a machine to remove pepper seeds from a box of Lego. Surely this isn’t just happening to us? Surely it is happening in millions of houses across the country at exactly this moment. Google suggests otherwise.

That night as I slide into bed my husband shrieks and kicks the covers off as if he is trying to escape.

“There’s something in the bed!”

“I’m a person. Not a something.” I sigh.

He fumbles around and then I hear a rare chuckle as he reveals three ice packs Midnight has stashed under the duvet. 

The Harvest Festival

I’m searching through our cupboards for some food for the Harvest Festival. I spy a tin of butter beans at the back and carefully extract it from the sticky ooze next to the honey jar. My husband is a relative of Winnie the Pooh. I can track his movements around the kitchen. He has been to the fridge and also by some miracle worked out how to put on the washing machine. His laptop has sticky keys.

The question is would a person less fortunate than me want a tin of butter beans? I don’t think so – I haven’t wanted to eat them for the past year so it seems a bit mean to palm them off on someone else. I rummage around and knock over several small bottles of spices the contents solidified against the thick glass.

Non-perishable goods. Nothing containing nuts. Nothing too heavy. The school does not want toes broken by a four pack of baked beans. I find a packet of curry flavoured instant noodles. I am not sure this is suitable. I’m not even sure they count as food and I am definitely not comfortable with the idea of my four-year-old, Milk, carrying them though the church as a nutritional offering. I settle on a small box of tea bags.

Off to church we go. I say we because I foolishly take my two-year-old Mayhem with me. What could possibly go wrong? We are offered a cup of tea as we step into the darkness, which is a bonus as I wasn’t sure if drinking in church was allowed, but then they do knock back the wine on occasion. I don’t get to touch my tea. I know this will happen but I am a hopeful soul. I am far too early. A two-year-old does not understand the concept of a) church b) waiting c) silence d) personal space. Mayhem shows everyone his Playmobil musician and then he focuses on an elderly lady across the aisle and pushes his toy up her skirt. I pretend I don’t notice and pull him away. He wants to lie on the floor, someone’s grave I think, and as the school children arrive he says hello to them all, tilting his head sideways and shoving his face into theirs.

“Yellow! Yellow!” he shouts with a manic grin.

“Let’s see if we can spot your brother,” I say brightly pulling his struggling mass onto my lap. He slaps my face and laughs and then, as the first song begins, he dances on my legs jumping energetically as if I am a mini trampoline. He cleverly uses my head as a support. I see cans of soup and cartons of porridge passing me in a blur like a game of Supermarket Sweep. We wave to Milk who is carrying his tea bags in his little outstretched hands, palms upwards as if it is a gift to the baby Jesus. Gold, Frankincense and PG Tips.

Mayhem and I don’t make it past the first reading, to the silent relief of the rest of the congregation. My cup of tea has gone cold and I sneak out as the vicar begins his tale of hunger and despair. I am so relieved to get outside I feed Mayhem biscuits one after the other, and he raises his hand as soon as one has been deposited in his mouth. I walk increasingly quickly to a chant of “More! More! More!” and can’t wait to get home and put the kettle on. I open the tea caddy and am faced with nothing but a dusting of silt at the bottom. I sit staring at the butter beans while Mayhem pours cumin into my shoes.

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