A week ago, while at the grocery store, the Gort viewed the candy and gum display at the checkout and hinted at his heart’s desire. ‘How old did you say I had to be when I could have gum?’ I smiled at his not-so-hidden agenda.
‘Eight,’ I played along. Even though I’m not sure that’s actually the age I’d stipulated the last time we’d had a conversation about gum.
So he chose a pack of Trident peppermint and placed it on the conveyor belt. As we walked towards the car with our respective purchases, he unwrapped a piece. ‘I feel pretty adult-ish,’ he announced moments later, ‘because I have gum.’ I was still smiling at this declaration of maturity when his pride turned to panic. ‘I just swallowed my gum,’ he confessed.
We drove home and later that night, before going to bed, he painstakingly removed each piece of gum from the blue cardboard package and placed the separated pieces in an empty Altoids tin. Which he hid in his sock drawer. All in an effort to trick the Hen, who was undoubtedly going to rifle through his brother’s room in search of some Trident goodness at the first available (unsupervised) opportunity.
Sure enough, the next day I found the discarded cardboard wrapping in the Hen’s room. I smiled. The trick had worked – on the four year old.
And then it was Saturday morning. The older boys were running around doing who knows what, when I realized it had been some time since I’d laid eyes on our chocolate-eyed thief. [The one who, when I finally dragged myself out of bed this morning, was munching on the almonds and cranberries I’d left in my purse overnight.]
‘Percy?’ I called as I walked briskly towards my bedroom, the setting of many of his latest crimes. There was silence, and then: the unmistakeable ‘click’ of another door being closed. The professor and I looked at each other, our mouths forming the same ‘ooooooooh’ shape as our faces contorted in ‘whatastinker!’ outrage.
The professor opened the Gort’s bedroom door. There, behind the suddenlycloseddoor, stood a pint-sized boy-child. His cheeks stuffed to the gills with about eight pieces of blue Trident gum. The ransacked sock drawer seemingly suspended in mid-air. The empty (once again) Altoids tin buried underneath the covers on a still-messy bed. The silvery gum wrappers stowed away in the closet.
And just like that, the quiet gave way to a commotion of zoo-like proportions as the professor tried to extricate a hunk of gum from the two year old’s mouth. And the Gort sobbed mournfully over the loss of his beloved, maturity-enhancing gum, all while the doorbell rang, announcing the arrival of our morning guests: ten minutes early.
The four year old opened the front door for our guests while I offered the surely atypical ‘sorry, we’re just trying to get gum out of our kid’s mouth’. The woman looked over at our [crying] oldest boy. ‘Oh, is he not feeling well?’