‘Tijm, come and eat your breakfast.’
The lego click, clicks.
‘Tijm, stop with the lego and come to the table. Now.’
Step by step he saunters over.
‘Do you want cereals? Or toast?’
He thinks for a moment. ‘Cereals. Weetabix, chocolate stars and raisins, but no milk. And marmite toast.’
Without thinking I mix his usual blend of cereals and put the bowl in front of him.
Immediately he bursts out. ‘No rice crispies, I said no rice crispies.’
‘What do you mean no rice crispies? You always have rice crispies.’
‘I Said No Rice Crispies Mama.’
I try to remember what he said. No idea. ‘But you eat rice crispies every day. Why not now?’
‘Because I said, no rice crispies!’
‘But you like them. Just eat them.’
‘No mama, today I don’t like them.’
‘But yesterday you did like them?’
He thinks for a bit. ‘Yes, yesterday I liked them. And tomorrow I will like them.’ Then, shouting. ‘But today I don’t!’
‘Eat them anyway. They are already in the bowl.’
He screams. ‘No mama, I said no rice crispies today. No!’
‘Tough luck. I am not making anything else. Eat them anyway.’
Tijm squeals, louder, hysterically.
‘Mama, take them out. Mama. I don’t like you today. I said no rice crispies. I won’t play with you today mama. Mahama?’
‘Stop screaming. Eat your breakfast. This is not a hotel. I am fed up with you ordering me about. Eat up!’ Now I scream too.
‘Mama, be quiet. You hurt my ears. I don’t like you today. Stop talking mama. Stop.’
I say nothing.
‘Mama,’ he screams again. ‘Stop talking.’
I still say nothing.
‘Mama. Mahama. I want you to say yes.’
‘I want you to take the rice crispies out. Now.’
‘Mama, I want you to say yes.’
‘No. Take them out yourself. And give them to your sister.’
Angrily, he keeps screaming, muttering away. I leave the room, preserving the very last energy and self-control I have left.
When I come back he has taken out all the rice crispies, one by one.
I stroke his hair. ‘Enjoy your breakfast?’
He nods, his mouth full.