I was clearing the breakfast dishes from the table when Raphael trotted up.
“Ah will help you, Mama.” He smiled at me and picked up a plate.
“Ah WIKE to help.” He nodded and carried the plate carefully to the sink. “Ah will not break it, no ah won’t.”
I watched him, a bit suspicious. He was being awfully sweet and thoughtful…perhaps a bit TOO sweet and thoughtful.
There is a park nearby that has a pond. At one end of the pond is a waterfall, tumbling over rocks. At one point the water falls over a straight edge of rock, making a smooth arc of shining teal water.
Every time I drive past, I do a double-take, because it’s lovely. It’s like some luminescent jewel.
And it’s teal.
I mean, water doesn’t COME in teal, naturally. I wonder, is it some sort of algae? But the water looks so clear and sparkly…it seems unlikely. So what? Did someone put some sort of CHEMICAL in the pond, right there next to the kids’ playground? What kind of cocktail do you have to dump in a pond to turn it entirely teal? And WHY would someone DO THAT? That can’t be good. No wonder Max has asthma…where was I?
Ah yes. The sweetness from Raphi? The kind consideration? Was like the shining curve of teal water. Gorgeous to look at, but it left me with a slightly uneasy feeling. This is not natural. What’s up, exactly?
Just then Tre stomped through the kitchen to look at his chore chart, and I remembered. Tre and Max had just had a brawl and been hauled off to separate corners of the house for stern words. Raphael, for once, was entirely uninvolved in the fracas.
So. His brothers were in trouble, and he was not.
And he was EATING IT UP.
As Tre glowered his way past, Raphi called out helpfully, “Yoo should be nice to Max, Tre. We be nice to each other.” He smiled smugly at me and blink-blinked his irrationally long eyelashes.
Oh yeah. He was being “the good kid.”
There seems to be a balance of power of sorts between siblings in a family. On a normal day they all veer in and out of the trouble zone, earning various warnings and dour looks. Nothing notable, no one stands out particularly in the sprinkling of discipline.
But then, let one child step forward and really draw the attention of the Mama? Well, then the others just bask in the glow of knowing they’re not THAT BAD. I remember doing it myself, sitting back, smiling primly while my brother got reamed. I know, it sounds insufferable. But you must understand, my brother NEVER got in trouble. Well, rarely. Particularly compared to…say…me.
So. When he drew parental fire, I took it as my cue to glow with a holy light.
Raphael was enjoying just that holy light. Uh…imagined holy light. He carried every dish to the sink, sighed, and patted my leg.
“Ah am glad ah could help you, Mama.”
And with that, he was off.
Presumably to rescue a kitten stuck in a tree or something.