You say tomato, etc.

I heard the adage back when I was a new mom, you never wake a sleeping baby. And while idealistic and not always true, there were lots of times when the rumpled sheet or cricked neck got overlooked for the sake of baby’s continued (temporary) bliss.

The adage came back to me the other day with ethical vengeance over none other than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. K had wanted ham, of course, because M wanted PB&J. I didn’t have ham, so I made PB&Js for both and gritted my teeth for lunchtime, when the expected pouty complaint arose. Hunger won out and K consented to eat her sandwich anyway. One bite in, she looked up at me with elation: “You membered to put in berry! You give me berry, right?”

Because while everyone else in the house likes strawberry jam, K likes raspberry. And she’s always asking me to put raspberry in her sandwich, which I rarely do because, well, it’s just a bit more difficult to keep them separated and it’s never usually an issue. I mean, she really does enjoy PB&J, even with strawberry jam. But the last time we had PB&J, I did promise her that I’d put in berry next time. Which I forgot. Until right then. When the sandwiches were clearly already made and even in mouth.

I smiled anxiously, testing the ground under my feet. “Sure, of course.” (Never wake a sleeping baby whispered in my head, promptly followed by Don’t lie to your children). It was just a little lie, right? Except it kept going. “You membered berry,” she chanted happily. “This berry?” “Sure.” (Strawberry is technically a berry). “You membered. Just like you promised. Right?” “Of course.” (It was like she knew). “This really yummy. Thanks.” “No problem.” (You would really hate me if you knew the truth).

And then, from M, with sudden suspicion: “You put strawberry in mine, though, right?” Ah, finally a baby already awake. “Yes sir, absolutely.”

“So everybody happy,” announced K. Which I guess is worth something. But the whole violation of my ethics? Eh, that’s a tough one. But I still maintain: strawberry is technically a berry. Which maybe means I missed my calling as a lawyer.

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