Well, No 3 (daughter) was very excited about making elderflower cordial at school. Talked about it animatedly, discussed which ingredients she thought might make it yummy, was unusually organised about taking an empty purple water bottle to school on the day (in which to bring home said cordial). This cordial was clearly a Big Deal.
The making of it was a great success: at the end of the school day the purple water bottle was clutched with care while homework spilled happily out of No 3's pink rucksack. I was entrusted, after receiving strict cordial-caring instructions, with the precious purple water bottle while No 3 went off to play. Every few minutes she was back to check up on me, obviously sceptical of my elderflower cordial-sitting duties.
The cordial made it home safely, together with the multitude of bags and water bottles my children possess. First job to tackle: lunch boxes. Which mother loves that job? Emptying boxes that have sat in the sun all afternoon, the crumby remains of cheese sandwiches mingling with slimy and definitely no longer cool cucumbers. With the odd raisin stuck to the rim of the lid. Next job: the water bottles. My kids always take one each to school, but we don't usually get the full quota back. Surprisingly, today I had the correct total of 4. I emptied them, one into a very thirsty basil plant, the rest sloshing around the sink. Good, job done.
A little later it was time to eat. No 3 ran to the table eagerly, "Oh we can drink the elderflower cordial now!".
Sickening sensation alert! "Yes of course!" I cried over-cheerfully, simultaneously checking the dishwasher. There stood the PURPLE bottle, totally upside down and empty - oops! Now, I know it was just cordial but it was THE cordial and it was GONE! So I swiftly concocted a cunning plan. I reached into the back of a low cupboard and grabbed a bottle of elderflower cordial that had stood there for years. Not yummy but necessary. This I held behind my back, walking sideways towards the dishwasher with a silly grin fixed upon my face. My children looked at me oddly. "Are you all right, Mum?" No 2 asked. "Yes, of course!" I declared shrilly. Then I managed to decant a sneaky measure of the revolting old cordial into the purple water bottle while it was still hiding in the dishwasher. I then produced it with a flourish declaring triumphantly, "Ta-da here it is!"
The children drank a little, didn't like it (hardly surprising), asked for milk, and No 3 didn't give the elderflower cordial one more second's thought. All that effort! Why did I bother? I'd even sunk so low as to give my kids a really old disgusting drink! Was I trying to save my daughter's feelings or simply myself? Honestly - it was a bit of both. But I managed to forgive myself and moved on.
Kids can be less merciful; when I was forced to confront No 1 later that evening about the importance of telling the truth (the evidence undoubtedly pointed to a planned midnight feasting misdemeanour) he turned round to me, triumph glinting in his eyes and said, "So what about the cordial, Mum?" BUSTED! I could have stayed and argued the white lie point but I had no energy left. Instead, I trudged tired and defeated downstairs to check on my poor basil plant - remember the thirsty plant - the only lucky recipient of the elderflower cordial. And I thought, not for the first time, how my kids certainly know how to keep me on my toes and looking ridiculous!
I leave you with this wonderful quote: