There are rules in my house. Some are flexible and some are not.  No eating in the lounge is a non-flexible rule. This is because of the carpets and my lack of desire to be constantly cleaning them. That is not to say the rules don’t get tested from time to time.

A concession is made for eating snacks while watching a movie. To my kids, that means anything sweet. If it has sugar, it is classified by them as a snack. If you can think it, they have tried it – ice cream, custard, jelly, sticky-toffee pudding but, each time I have put my foot down and steered them out of the lounge, we go through the same procedure. The kid debates the definition of a snack. The kid promises that they won’t mess. The kid retreats to the very edge of the lounge where the carpet meets the dining room tiles and then sits down with his butt on the carpet.

“You’re in the lounge,” I say

“My feet are in the dining room,” comes the reply

“Your butt isn’t.”

The kid sighs and goes and sits at the dining room table. Mom 1 – Kid 0

Another big no-no is drinking directly from any large juice, soda or milk bottle. From time to time I do, however, set aside that rule for myself as I am the one who does the dishes and I would like to cut down on the number of dishes I have to wash. Fewer dishes means less stress, less stress means a nicer mom. It’s a win-win really. Drinking directly from the bottle is a very dangerous undertaking though. It has often happened that one of my children enters the kitchen just as I have taken a big sip from the bottle. Swallowing quietly while smiling is a skill which is useful to learn!

A well-known kitchen rule in my house is that nobody is allowed to touch the Nutella without asking. Don’t even ask if you may have a spoonful, Nutella is only for sandwiches or toast and certainly not every day. I was quite confused when I offered the kids biscuits one day and they asked if they could have Nutella on them. It turns out that my father frequently makes them Marie biscuit “sandwiches” with chocolate spread in the middle, pancakes with chocolate spread, and muffins with chocolate spread – and anything else that would taste better smothered in chocolate. Well that doesn’t work for me and I tried to explain to them how Nutella tastes so much better when you can’t have it every day and that if they eat it all the time it won’t taste as wonderful. Of course, that is utter nonsense. No child has ever started disliking chocolate spread from eating it every day.

“Can we just have one spoonful?” they asked.

“No,” I replied handing them the biscuits. “You can have two sandwiches tomorrow.”

They walked off to the lounge with their biscuits (a particularly crumbly kind) and sat on the couch. I considered telling them that those biscuits should be eaten in the dining room but all this talk about Nutella had started my mouth watering. If I just overlooked this small, minor infraction just this once I could grab a spoon and eat the biggest mouthful of the stuff while the kids were distracted, and that is exactly what I did.

The chocolate hit my taste buds and the bliss was instant as unicorns danced on my tongue. This, however, was short lived as my daughter came into the kitchen. I managed to quickly hide the jar and spoon behind my back and just stood there staring at her.

“Mom, what are you doing?” she asked.

I had an instant feeling of déjà vu and my mind went back to five years earlier when this exact scenario had played itself out. The only difference was that my then-teenage daughter was the one standing and staring at me with the jar of Nutella and spoon hidden behind her back. She had been given a stern talking to about breaking the rules and about stealing.

Now here I stood, cornered and with no way out. I instinctively relied on the skills I had put to use when drinking soda directly out of the bottle. I tried to quickly swallow but couldn’t and moved directly on to Step 2 of my deception, which was to give a big toothy grin. I watched as the smile started at the corners of my daughter’s mouth. For the briefest moment, I thought we would giggle together but then I saw the twinkling start in her eye – and I knew what was coming.

“Guys, mom is eating Nutella out the jar!” she shouted.

There is no honour among thieves.

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