Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Parenting - TRIC KEAR­NEY

IT’S been a fraught 48 hours but I can fi­nally stop hold­ing my breath... I did not poi­son my fam­ily.

In or­der for you to fully ap­pre­ci­ate my high level of anx­i­ety, let me first bring you back a cou­ple of weeks, to our fridge and a packet of mince.

I am in a very un­usual re­la­tion­ship, in that yer man does our weekly shop. Yes, each Satur­day morn­ing he wan­ders off alone, 40 shop­ping bags tucked un­der his arm, with no in­put from my­self ex­cept a roar of goodbye as he leaves the house. It’s a well­known fact about our vil­lage, I’m a pretty rub­bish wife.

So, back to the mince. Yer man bought it but I’d no de­sire to cook it. As the days passed, the ‘gone off’ date edged ever closer. Each morn­ing yer man placed it at the front of the fridge, by evening I’d en­sured it was buried be­neath but­ter and jams.

“Are you ever go­ing to use the mince or will I freeze it,” he asked three days in a row.

“I’ll do shep­herd’s pie to­mor­row,” I replied ev­ery day.

But each to­mor­row saw me al­ler­gic to peel­ing a hun­dred pota­toes, so the mince re­mained un­touched and for-

“As it siz­zled on the hot pan, it looked OK. I tasted a morsel. Did mince usually taste this strong? ‘Who cares,’ I thought, drown­ing it in a jar of lasagne sauce

got­ten. Fi­nally, one af­ter­noon I found it hid­den in the back of the fridge look­ing a rather un­usual dark brown colour. It’s best-be­fore date, the day be­fore.

What to do? Throw it out and watch yer man cry? Or put it in the freezer with the other four batches of mince? So I froze it, tak­ing it out two days ago.

“We’re hav­ing lasagne for din­ner,” I an­nounced to my chil­dren as they ate break­fast. I’m al­ways im­mensely pleased with my­self when I plan din­ner sev­eral hours in ad­vance.

Open­ing the mince that af­ter­noon, I sniffed. What was that smell? Surely not the mince? Maybe it wasn’t happy hav­ing been kept in a packet this long? As it siz­zled on the hot pan, it looked OK. I tasted a morsel. Did mince usually taste this strong? ‘Who cares,’ I thought, drown­ing it in a jar of lasagne sauce as there was no time to cook any­thing else.

Tak­ing it out of the oven it was a sight to be­hold, cheese bub­bling and the edges not quite as burnt as usual. Should I voice my con­cerns? Surely it would be bet­ter to say noth­ing and wait and see if any­one spat it out?

I plated it up, my por­tion the size of a pea and yer man’s plate over­flow­ing. My fam­ily dug in. I poked at mine, a fork­ful al­most mak­ing it into my mouth, but I couldn’t do it.

My ever-ob­ser­vant daugh­ter stopped eat­ing. “What’s wrong with the din­ner?”

“Noth­ing,” I splut­tered, “I just ate a bit which I thought tasted a lit­tle odd.”

Yer man was scrap­ing the fi­nal re­mains off his plate. “That was lovely,” he said or at least I think that’s what he said as his mouth was full.

“Well I’m not eat­ing it if it’s dodgy,” said my daugh­ter push­ing her plate away, closely fol­lowed by her sis­ter.

“It’s ab­so­lutely fine,” I lied. “Hon­estly would I take even the slight­est risk?”

So they con­tin­ued to eat most of their din­ner and I’ve spent the 48 hours since filled with re­gret which reached a peak about 4am when I heard some­one go to the bath­room and while in there have a fit of cough­ing.

“Dear God, it’s started,” I thought. “I knew that mince was off.”

Min­utes later the poi­soned child headed back to bed hum­ming softly on her way.

It’s Satur­day morn­ing and no one is dead. Yer man’s just ar­rived home from shop­ping and yes an­other packet of mince now sits at the front of the fridge.

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