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Being a parent has its moments. Children try their best to take you for a ride from as early a time as they can and eventually they do manage too if you aren’t alert. But in the early days when they are beginning to try out their wings for strength to carry you on that ride they plan to give you, it is a different story. They find to their dismay the rides they planned fizzling out, to the secret amusement of their parents.

The First Born was five and a half at the time of this anecdote. He had spent the summer before school reopened dismantling his toys, trying his hand at ironing clothes and leaving the iron plugged into the socket, shaving his non-existent beard ‘like Dad’ and leaving shaving brush, soapy water et al on the dressing table, throwing tiny pebbles at the house-help from a safe distance in protest because she wouldn’t let him splash around in the soapy water, ‘helping her’ as he called it.

You must be wondering where I was when all these were happening. It was my first trimester and I spent most of the time in bed with severe nausea, and usually woke to his activities too late.

Mercifully, school opened soon and he was occupied with friends and studies without too much time on his hands. I was also back on my feet, waddling around like a duck carrying the second one in my tummy, but back to being as alert a Mom as ever.

One day I stepped into the bathroom and stepped right out again. The First Born was pulling on his shorts and tee after his shower.

“Did you use soap?” I knew the answer, but asked him anyway.

“Yes, I did!” he answered, eyes wide and innocent and looking straight into mine.

If nothing, that slight widening of eyes and the obvious innocence in them should have alerted me. But I had better and more solid proof with me, so didn’t need to read facial expressions or body language, or even depend on the much talked about and highly overrated ‘motherly intuition’.

“No. You haven’t!” I said firmly.

He must have had a very high opinion about my abilities to nose things out (in spite of the earlier times when he got away) because after a moment’s thought and without much ado he asked me in obvious amazement,

“How did you find out?” There was that innocent smile again.

I had been right, but of course. Still, I didn’t provide the answer he sought. Here was where I played my cards close to the chest. Where other moms might proudly and happily have babbled away (I have seen that happening a lot) how exactly they found out, I did not. Not one word.

Nope, it was not body odor, or dirt sticking behind ears or anything such. When I walked into the bathroom, I accidentally found the soap bar to be absolutely dry. Now, if I told him this fact, the next day he’d simply wet the soap and keep it back. I was not going to make it that easy for him for the sake of a fleeting moment of victory. So when he asked again how I knew, I had my answer ready.

“Mothers know!” I said mysteriously, falling back on the same overrated motherly instinct in which I don’t believe at all. Some people are good at reading situations, others cannot, and it applies whether you are a mother or not. But pretending you have the skill? That is easy-peasy.

Anyway, being the intelligent fellow that he was (and is), eventually he figured out just how his Mom was able to predict when he used soap and when he did not. So he apparently started pouring some water over the soap to fool me (or so he says now, but I am not buying it!). By then I had graduated to more sophisticated ways, of throwing in the dark and hitting the bull’s eye. I am kidding. I knew enough to know I didn’t know everything and to keep quiet till I knew or even when I already knew, so that I could know more. I bet he did not know that. 😉

©Shail Mohan 2016