AFTER two hours of school holidays it had been established beyond all argument that my youngest suffers from what is termed in polite circles as "a low boredom threshold" or, as we like to call it, "holiday hypers".
This is a child who wants, expects, needs to be entertained, amused or occupied from sunrise to sunset. And all this recent wet weather combined with no school hasn't helped much.
"Mum, it's so boring, there's nothing to do."
Two minutes later and slightly louder. "Mum? Where are you? It's so boring, there's nothing to do. These holidays really suck."
More whining, a couple of drama queen sighs and the sound of something breaking and she has my attention.
"What is your problem?"
"I'm bored. There's nothing to do around here."
"Nothing to do around here? Are you kidding me? Take a look around - pick up a dust cloth or plug in the vacuum and knock yourself out."
"I don't want to dust or vacuum anything."
"No? Okay, no problem. I've got plenty more to choose from. Start with chucking on a load of washing, there are beds that need making, something sticky is stuck to the plate in the microwave that needs investigating and when you're done with that lot, feed the dog the leftovers from last night's Chinese takeaway - your father got number 24 again instead of number 26 so nobody ate much."
"Ha ha mum, you're hilarious."
"Should I take that as a no?"
I'll spare you the hissy fit details (both hers and mine) but needless to say the last words out of her mouth were, "I'm not doing housework and it's still really boring around here."
In desperation I suggested she "cook something".
"Yeah, apparently people actually cook for pleasure, haven't you seen My Kitchen Rules? Go on I dare you, go against your genetics and give it a whirl."
She approached the kitchen gingerly (her DNA probably screaming in her ear to "retreat") and grabbed one of only three cookbooks I own (all gifts over the years from clueless friends).
"Mum, what's devilled crab with Nicoise salad'?"
"Out of our league."
After dismissing more than half the recipes in the cookbook as "too hard, too yucky or too many ingredients" we agreed that she could make "crispy honey chicken" for dinner. I mean what could go wrong? Chicken is nature's wonder food. You can do anything to chicken (and believe me, in my kitchen, I have) and it still comes out tasting like chicken.
Surprisingly all was going relatively well until she got to the part in the recipe where it said, "Cook, uncovered, basting with the remaining sauce for 30 minutes or until leg moves freely." We read that bit a few times and finally agreed they were referring to the chicken leg.
Almost finished, she called me over again. This time the recipe said, "Let the chicken stand for 10 minutes before serving". She couldn't get it to stand but we figured letting it lean up casually against the side of the baking dish was close enough.
The dinner was fine. The fallout in the kitchen was a whole other story. In preparing one small chook my youngest had created a bomb site that would make Beirut proud.
As I waved my hands over the scene and asked "Well, what's happening with this mess?" she replied, "Mum, doing dishes is like, so boring."
School holidays or not, there's no arguing with that logic.