We’re deep into the Easter Holidays and have just returned to my Mum and Dad’s Mortlake home after visiting long term friends Scratch and Kelly, thirty minutes down the road in Warrnambool.
It’s Saturday night and the Easter Bunny has only just started greasing his bouncing muscles for the main event but already Archie, Lewis, Tyson and Maki have participated in two Easter egg hunts and have been the beneficiaries of several chocolaty gifts from friends and family and I’m desperately scrambling for positives as we wrestle them towards bedtime.
‘Chocolate is actually pretty good for you. It has a heap of health benefits,’ I say to RM as she’s flipping Maki over for a third attempt at securing him inside his jump suit. ‘I was a reading an article in one of Mum’s women’s health mags yesterday, and do you know that cocoa flavonoids bind to the protein that regulates fluid secretion in the small intestines?’
‘How’s that good?’ she asks.
I’m forced to delay my response so that I can hold a finger up in front of Tyson’s face and say, ‘Stop laughing and screaming and moving around, okay? Stop for just one minute until you’re in your pyjamas. ‘It’s good, my sweet,’ I continue, ‘because it means chocolate aids in diarrhoea relief.’
‘But none of the boys have diarrhoea,’ she says.
‘And that’s because of all the chocolate they’ve been eating,’ I say. ‘And there are a heap of other benefits… do you know chocolate protects against memory decline as people age?’
‘You really think that’s a health benefit for young kids? We have four boys under nine,’ she says, applying a figure eight choke hold to get the last button done on a squealing Maki.
‘I reckon, if you stop the average punter on the streets that most will agree our kids are aging really well,’ I say. ‘The fact they’ve been eating a lot of chocolate can’t be a coincidence.’
Tyson’s laughing and screeching and dancing like some long term, slightly deranged abattoir employee aiming his bolt gun at an endless line of cattle as they clip-clop along in single file, all doe-eyed and tasty, but I’ve managed to get his jumper and t-shirt off and I’m strong-arming him out of his jeans when Lewis appears in the lounge.
He’s fully dressed and ready for bed but grimacing and holding his stomach. When he opens his mouth to talk it looks like he has black spots all over his teeth. They resemble cavities and it shocks me so much that I have a mind-sphitz and mistake him for a diseased orphan who’s walked straight out of Charles Dickens’ Oliver and I’m about to scream, ‘You want mooooore!’ when he mumbles, ‘I feel sick.’
‘No more chocolate!’ RM says, as I recognise the browny ring around his lips.
She releases Maki who sprints out of the lounge room in search of Gran and Pa. ‘Didn’t you put the Easter Eggs away?’
‘I did,’ I say. ‘They’re under our bed. I wanted easy access to them for later tonight because that women’s magazine also said that chocolate can be an aphrodisiac.’
‘How about a spewing seven year old?’ she asks. ‘Does that get you going?’
Once I’ve directed Lewis to lie on the couch I flatten Tyson’s jeans to the floor, encourage him to step out of them, and then look up to see that he’s fully nude.
‘Where are your undies?’ I ask.
‘At Scratch’s,’ he says, putting his hands to his mouth and erupting in his usual outrageous husky laugh.
‘What?’ I ask. ‘Where at Scratch’s?’
‘In the fruit bowl,’ he says.
After mirroring ping-pong ball eyes of amazement with RM I adopt a classic cop-asking-the-bad-guy-in-the-interrogation-room tone and say, ‘Tyson. Tell me the truth. Did you take off your underwear off at Scratch’s house and then place them in the fruit bowl?’
‘Yes,’ he says, laughing like Chris Farley crossed with Eddie Murphy crossed with a hyena crossed with cocaine crossed with every judge who has ever appeared on The Voice crossed with rocket fuel on fire. ‘I did.’
Less than three hours have passed and all the children are now asleep and I’m lying in bed waiting for RM to get back from the bathroom, wondering how I can coerce her into eating some chocolate when I decide to text Scratch to see if the undies in the fruit bowl story is true and accurate…
I hope everyone had a great Easter! ~ RD