Ironing Out Her Faults

Daphne Bishop started in alarm as the faint odour of burning drifted into the room. She hurried anxiously through into the kitchen but nothing appeared to be cremating itself. A pause for some puzzled sniffing, and then she shot through into the laundry room where an unattended iron set on full heat was approaching incandescence and lightly toasting the white t-shirt thrown down carelessly on the ironing board.

Deciding that nothing was going to burst into flames in the next minute, Daphne left the crime scene intact, hurried into the hallway and called up to her daughter, "Maria, come down here at once!"

Two more fruitless calls up the stairs and she tried a different tack. "I'll just tell Tod you're too busy to speak to him then!"

Evidently there had been no change in her daughter's current infatuations in the last few hours as she came charging down with alacrity. "Why didn't you saaay Tod was on the phone, Mom," she whined.

"He isn't and I've got more important things to discuss with you," Daphne snapped, "Now you just come her, young lady."

Maria was so outraged at the sheer effrontery of an adult, worse still her *mother* resorting to a cheap trick, and worst of all her falling for it, that the reason for her mother marching her through the kitchen and in to the laundry room failed to sink in. Maria's whining and griping continued right up to the point she saw her t-shirt smouldering quietly to itself on the ironing board.

Her mother was singularly unsympathetic to her daughter's instant temper tantrum. "There's two identical t-shirts in the ironing basket there and you can buy a replacement for that one from your allowance. Right now I want to discuss you leaving this switched on and unattended." She pointedly switched it off at the wall socket. "Leaving it like that was very dangerous; it could have caused a fire."

Maria, far from expressing a small degree of contrition stamped her foot and screeched "Ohmygod look at the time! We're supposed to meet downtown in twenty minutes; they might leave without me. Where's those other stupid t-shirts?"

With a superhuman effort, Daphne made one last effort to get through to her daughter. "You can't do anything until it's cooled down, now I want *you* to cool down and apologise."

"Oh, yeh, like it's always *my* fault, " came the retort.

Something inside Daphne snapped. She couldn't remember ever having been taught the fluid sequence of sit-down-upend-miscreant- -remove-jeans-and-smack: perhaps it's one of those little genetic resources we have, dormant until called on in moments of extreme need. At any rate she executed it beautifully, as artful a piece of physical control as any ju-jitsu manoeuvre, and settled down to the first serious piece of mother-daughter communication she'd enjoyed in a long time.

Maria's wails grew louder, begging her mother to stop, please, she'd had enough.

"Oh no, dear, we've plenty of time. I'll continue striking while the iron is hot."


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