Not a Question

August 27, 2009

in Conversations With Oliver

“Oliver, can you please go to the back door and get the trash bin that belongs in here? I left it there when I emptied it earlier.”

“No.” I can feel his eyes on me, testing. Waiting.

“Pardon me, sir?”

“No. I don’t want to.”

“Um, sorry… that wasn’t a question actually. Go. And get. The trash bin. From the back door. Please.” I only look at him once, and go back to changing the baby. I know what’s coming next.

“No.” I knew he’d say that. It’s a new thing he’s trying with me. The only thing he’s really doing is making my blood pressure rise to stroke-like levels, and if one of us is to die today, he can be certain it will be him, the little punk, and not me.

He’ been doing this kind of thing, testing me this way for days upon days now. It’s the lazy, crazy, last days of summer, when camp ends but before school starts (and I mean full-time school, not this one-hour-meet-and-greet with mummies-hanging-around-to-hug-their-nervous-kids-crap.) He’s a good boy – usually quite cooperative, happy to help, and at the very least, fairly obedient, but he’s staging a mini-revolt lately. This is completely normal once in a while, I’m certain. It isn’t the first time he’s behaved atypically, nor will it be the last time he does this kind of thing. I know he’s adjusting the stricter bedtime routine and the quiet undercurrent of change in the house, so I’m doing my best to be patient with him. I swear to god I am. I am trying. But lordhavemercy, I will kick him through the front door of the school with my right foot on Monday morning, and skip all the way home without a single tear in my eye…

And if I’d ever sassed my parents this way as a kid, I wouldn’t be alive to write this now. That is mos def true.

“Oliver, I will say this exactly one more time…” I turn and look at him. “Look in my eyes so I know you can hear me. Are you listening?”

He nods.

I keep my voice as low and steady as humanly possible. “Oliver Chase, GO and get that trash bin from the back door RIGHT NOW or I will call Natalie and tell her that you cannot make it to the birthday party this afternoon, and you will spend the REST of the day in your ROOM until dinnertime. I am not joking at all, mister. Do you understand me now?”


“Yes, what?”

“Yes, mummy.”


And he did. And he fetched, like a good little monkey. And now he can go to the party and have cake and pizza with everyone else we know in the neighbourhood.

Le sigh. Threats are good sometimes, and there ain’t nothing idle about mine… ever. My mama didn’t raise no fools.


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