War of the zits leaves me wondering about my skills as mother
It's dinner time and an uneasy peace holds sway. As you serve the meal, however, you notice a sour expression on your son's face.
You follow his glare across the table to the Wolverine's malevolent grin.
She is tapping repeatedly at a spot between her eyes.
Your son's mouth turns down.
Suddenly he lays down his knife and fork, smirks, and, with his index finger, starts to tap near his left ear.
Her sneer dies, to be replaced by a murderous expression.
Bewildered, casserole dish in hand, you look from one to the other of the tapping twosome. Eventually you twig.
He has a large pimple on his forehead. She has an even bigger one on the side of her head.
Your children are having a zit-spotting contest over the labour-intensive, mouth-watering plates of champ and beef-in-beer you have placed before them.
You think about the starving children of Chad.
You think about the families devastated by AIDS in Lesotho. You think about the deprivation in Gaza.
You look at your two well-fed, comfortably shod, warmly clothed, well-educated adolescents gleefully pointing out each other's facial blemishes.
Stop that, you snap. It's disgusting.
There is a short silence.
The Wolverine's morose expression returns.
She is, she announced, shocked to the core by her school's outrageous decision to confiscate her mobile phone after a teacher caught her texting some boy in the middle of class. She will not get it back for some weeks.
This, she declares, is a violation of her civil liberties and she wants you, as her mother, to do something about it.
Sure, you say coolly, you'll march right up to the school tomorrow and wrest it from the principal's grasp.
Later you find your son writing a short story. It's about a boy who bought his annoying sister some make-up for her birthday.
There is a virulent poison in the make-up, because when she puts it on, the girl's face starts to melt.
You wonder forlornly whether it's something you did when they were small . . .