It was like living in a permanent episode of Call My Bluff. Except I never did. And it wasn’t until I blurted things out at school to be met with an incredulous look and the words, ‘Who told you that, your brother?’ that I realised the full extent of my gullibility.
I never had a younger sibling, so I could never wreak my revenge. No one ever believed my stories, even (sadly enough) when they were true. But now I am an aunty and all that is due to change. My nephew is four. He’s at that age where he’s learning things, before he becomes a teenager and knows it all.
He’s quite a serious chap and constantly seeking answers and explanations. When I went away for a week, he (and his mother) fed Chester in our absence. I bought a little gift and said it was from Chester. He furrowed his little brow and said, ‘Chester didn’t really buy it, did he mummy?’ Mummy – bless her – is equally unfettered with an overactive imagination and replied that no, of course he didn’t, he’s a cat.
The other week we were out at a café and nephew was rootling around in the flowerbed where he came across some rat poison. After his hands had been thoroughly washed, the torrent of questions began. They mainly centred on why we wanted to kill rats in the first place. Mummy explained that it was because they carried disease.
‘How do they carry disease, mummy?’ he piped. ‘In their handbags’ I replied. Furrowing of brow and quizzical looks ensued. Mummy would neither confirm nor deny (fence-sitter) and I felt the situation slipping away, especially when he pronounced that rats didn’t have handbags. So I asked him if he had ever seen a rat (with or without accessory) and he had to admit that he hadn’t.
I think I’ve got him. Of course, I can’t know for sure until he drops it into casual conversation in the school playground and opens himself up for ridicule, but I think the woodcock may be near the gin, as they say in Shakespeare (trust me!).
You may consider this cruel, but apparently it’s just character-building. And he’ll thank me one day, when he has tales of aunt-cruelty to tell on his own blog. He may even publish a book about how mean we all were (preferrably in an Irish location) and he'll make a sob-story fortune.