Mistake number one: I don’t look for the tongs until after I heat up the oil past the point of no return and toss the battered fish in. The timer is ticking and I can’t find the tongs. Not anything that would do the job in their stead. Tic-toc-tic-toc. Panic! Yell:
Jane: Has anybody seen the tongs?
Cinder: The kitchen tongs?
Cinder: The ones you use for cooking?
Jane: Yes! For godssake-where-the-hell-are-they?
Cinder: I think I’ve seen them the bathroom.
The timer is ticking, the oil is boiling, the fish is frying—I race. Up the stairs. Bathroom. Yes! There they are, on the floor beside the bathtub. Grab ‘em. Race them the stairs. Stand at the stove. Pause for a minute. Because, after all, this is my house. The house of Ender and his penchant for grossness.
Jane: Does anyone know why the tongs were in the bathroom?
Jane: Why were the tongs in the bathroom? Did one of you take them up for take bath toys out of the bathtub or…
I pause. I don’t want to say it. Thinking it.
But the clock is still ticking… and I say…
Jane: … or were they used to fish something out of the toilet?
A horrible silence answers me. A silence that, in not denying, affirms. A silence that pounds in my ears like a drum—the timer on the stove is now counting down seconds—until Cinder says:
Cinder: Does it matter? I mean, you’re going to wash them really well anyway, right?
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is proof, by the way, that while they possess 50 per cent of their father’s genetic material, 90 per cent of their behaviours and habits around food and cleanliness, anyway, come from my modelling and not his genes. Were Sean, the man who will not eat floor peas, in the kitchen right now, the conversation would go like this:
Sean: Jesus, give me those—no, I don’t want to touch them—just put them in the garbage, I’m going to run to Safeway and get a new pair—I’ll be back in 20 minutes—just turn the oil off—we can eat supper 20 minutes later—I can’t fucking believe you were going to use those to flip our food!
Cinder: Delicious fish.
Flora: Mmm, really good.
Cinder: Do you like the fish, Daddy?
Sean: So good.
Jane: I’m so glad.
And it’s all fine. Until:
Ender: There are my pinchers! I’ve been looking for those everywhere!
…and he stomps off. Upstairs. Where the bathroom is.
Cinder: We could follow him. Then we’d know.
Jane: But do we want to know?
Sean: What are you guys talking about?
Flora: Wasn’t the fish delicious, Daddy?
Sometimes, it’s better not to know. Don’t you think?
However, because I really, really love him, I am buying a new set of tongs. Which I will hide in the same place I keep the meat mallet.