When Ava was very little, about seven months old, we went to Vienna. We were visiting for the wedding of some dear friends, but we gave ourselves a few days beforehand to explore all the city's cultural delights. And since the afternoon we visited the glorious Albertina, specifically its permanent exhibition 'Monet to Picasso – the Batliner Collection', I have been questioning my own morality.
To explain, given the value of the paintings, the Albertina is surprisingly relaxed about visitors getting up close with them. A complete lack of ropes gave Ava (who I was holding, pointing forwards) and I the chance to study in detail a particularly beautiful and delicate work of art.
As I stood there with my arm around my babbling baby's belly, and I chatted to her about how lovely all the colours were, I detected the tiniest little rumble of a belch bubbling up. Instinctively – and immediately – I stepped backwards and sideways.
And I was JUST in the nick of time. A fraction of a second later, that projectile spurt of milky vomit would not have been causing a health and safety issue on the polished wood floor; it would have 'enhanced' an original Monet.
I quickly extracted the baby wipes from my bag and mopped up the puddle. But what has troubled me ever since is this question: if I hadn't moved quite so quickly, if Ava had actually managed to spray her own unique signature all over Claude Monet's, would I have confessed?
No one had seen, you understand. No one had witnessed this thankfully insignificant – but very nearly disastrous – event. I cleared the mess, I cleared my throat, and I pootled off with a very happy (probably relieved after expelling that liquid burp) Ava.
Well, not long ago, I was faced with a similar sort of decision. The events leading to it, however, involved French sticks rather than the priceless artwork of a French Impressionist. We were in the supermarket (again) and while Ruby was happily munching on rice cakes in the buggy, Ava was trailing behind me, asking for ridiculous treats (such as a worryingly pink 'serves 24' fairy princess cake).
With Ava's shape in the corner of my eye and having pondered, for obviously far too long, which sliced wholemeal loaf to get and whether to go for white or brown pittas, I turned around just in time to see my daughter remove her mouth from the top of a baguette. And I just knew, before I even began the short, but heavy-hearted, walk to the baskets containing those loaves, it was not the only one she had sampled.
Six. She had gone round in a whole flippin' circle and bitten the tops off six of them. And there it was, the big question. Purchase or peg it?
Dear reader, I am embarrassed to say, I pegged it. I don't know why! Embarrassment/fury/panic?
But by the time I had finished paying for all my pristine and unadulterated groceries (at a self service checkout, lest my shame was so palpable a till assistant actually tried to scan it and charge me for it), guilt had got the better of me. I went to the customer service desk, confessed, said I didn't know what to do with six French sticks and offered to pay. The very sweet lady, spying the crumbs on Ava's chin, laughed and let me off. I assume she sent someone to go and remove them from the shop floor.
So, did I answer my burning question? Would I have 'fessed up at the Albertina?
Six supermarket baguettes = £4.74.
Repair of / recompense for a ruined Monet = ??
Hmmm. The truth is, I still don't know...