Sitting in the floral armchair in the corner of the study, F is bent over a 'Healthy Eating' find-a-word in his North Melbourne Football Club Activity Book. I am checking my emails and carrying on a half-assed, half-to-myself monologue.
"Mum," he says matter-of factly, temporarily abandoning his search for the word 'lettuce', "You worry too much."
I take him by the hand and lead him back to the lounge room, where we huddle over the activity book together on the couch, looking for various fruits and vegetables together until we have circled them all.
Less than an hour earlier, the Evil dog bit our next-door neighbour on the face while he gently stroked his fur, sitting cross-legged by the heater. Evil barked frenetically as I leapt from the couch to stand between them, then chased him into the laundry. When I got back, blood was spilling down Boy Next Door's cheek in a bright stream as he sat, stunned, where I had left him. It was 10 long minutes before he could remove the red spotted tissue I'd handed him and follow me to the bathroom for a band-aid. His cheek was pink with smeared blood and had to be wiped clean with a face washer.
The Husband was the one who had to explain to his mother what had happened, including the assurance that we will get rid of the dog.
We will pick up Boy Next Door for Auskick in the morning and I am dreading looking her in the face.
I wonder if she, like me now, is awake at 2am, trying not to think about how much worse things could have been if BND had turned his head and the dog had bitten his eye.