“I’ll be mother.” — Mycroft Holmes
“There is an entire childhood in a nutshell.” — Sherlock Holmes, BBC Sherlock
I’d Like To See You Tryby J.H. Watson
Sherlock had reached the Terrible Twos. Mycroft had read about it in the books he’d “borrowed” from the local library. He considered it borrowing because he had every intention of returning them. Eventually. He would have checked them out properly but the librarians had said he was too young and could only have books from the children’s section. As if there was anything in the children’s section at his level. At nine Mycroft read at a college level, but unfortunately there was no reasoning with some people. Alright, most people actually. Mummy was right. Most people were incredibly stupid.
And right now there was no reasoning with Sherlock. Mycroft would never call his baby brother stupid. Willful, stubborn, exasperating, but not stupid.
“Sherlock, come along. Eat your dinner.”
“No!” Sherlock folded his thin little arms across his chest, clamped his lips tightly shut, and turned down the corners of his mouth in a pouty scowl.
“Now Sherlock, you know you have to eat. If you don’t eat you will grow weak and get sick.”
Sherlock was already too thin as far as Mycroft was concerned. The pediatrician had suggested Sherlock was a bit underweight for his age and size. Mummy had said thin was better than fat and given him a significant look, but then she’d told the nanny that the boys couldn’t leave the table until Sherlock’s plate was clean. And if Sherlock didn’t finish his meals he was to be punished. Mycroft wasn’t certain what the punishment would be, but he was certain Sherlock wouldn’t like it, and Mycroft wouldn’t like the consequences.
“Sherlock, be reasonable. It’s very good. It’s your favourite. And there’s even treacle for pudding. Mmmm.”
“No! You eat.”
“Alright, I’ll eat a bite. Then you can eat a bite.”
“No! Two bites.”
“Okay, you’ll eat two bites.”
“No! You two bites!”
Mycroft sighed. He was already overweight. He wasn’t fat. He wouldn’t call himself fat. Mummy had talked to the pediatrician about putting him on a diet and he did seem to be getting a lot of raw vegetables with his meals. And no pudding. He took a bite off of Sherlock’s plate and tried not to grimace. Everything was laden with extra butter. The potatoes au gratin practically swam in it. Mycroft took another bite and then speared one more bit of potato and offered it to Sherlock.
Sherlock sat with his mouth a tight line. He glared at Mycroft and shook his head.
Mycroft said, “You promised. I took two bites, now you have take a bite. That’s what you arranged.”
Mycroft waited. He unconsciously nibbled on a roll. Sherlock reached out and snatched the roll from Mycroft’s hand and took a large bite. He glared at Mycroft as if daring him to take the roll back.
“You still have to eat a bite of potatoes, too,” Mycroft said.
Sherlock held the roll in his hand and stared at his brother. Mycroft didn’t look away. He kept the fork poised in front of Sherlock’s mouth. Mycroft began silently counting. When he got to forty-three, Sherlock picked up the spoon in front of him and scooped the tiniest portion of potatoes he could and slipped it in his mouth. He crinkled up his nose in distaste but kept chewing. Mycroft lowered the fork.
“No! You! Two bites!”
Mycroft sighed and ate the portion on the fork. Slowly Mycroft got Sherlock to eat some of his dinner. Mycroft told himself it was a third, although he knew it wasn’t because Sherlock took the tiniest bites he could and forced Mycroft to finish what he no longer wanted. The plate was clean except for the pudding and the roll Sherlock had carefully kept from Mycroft. Mycroft held the pudding out for Sherlock, but he clamped his lips shut again and shook his head “No!”
“Come, Sherlock, it’s the last thing. Look. I didn’t even get a pudding. Cook made it especially for you.”
“Mummy wants you to clean your plate. You want to make Mummy proud, don’t you?”
Mycroft was momentarily shocked. Everything he’d ever done in his life had been an attempt to please his mother. Then he realized that Sherlock was saying no to the food and not to making Mummy proud. At least that was what Mycroft decided Sherlock meant. It must be what Sherlock meant. It was the only thing Sherlock could possibly mean. The other interpretation was inconceivable.
The dessert called to Mycroft. It was treacle pudding. One of his favourites. Actually, Mycroft had never met a sweet he didn’t like. The sticky concoction was nearly drowned in clotted cream to add additional calories.
“Come on, Sherlock. Try at least one bite. You like sweets.”
Sherlock stared at the bowl and slowly dipped his spoon into it. He licked the sticky treacle and cream off and looked suspiciously at his older brother. “You! Eat!”
Mycroft knew he shouldn’t, but the pudding looked so good and it had been so long since he’d been allowed sweets.
“It’s your pudding, Sherlock.”
“If I take a bite, you have to take a bite.”
Eventually Sherlock was persuaded to have another three bites, but Mycroft had to finish the rest to get Sherlock to eat even those bites.
Or at least that’s what Mycroft told himself. Just as Mycroft was licking the last of the treacle from the fork, the door to the nursery opened and in came Mummy. She was beautiful in a black Yves St. Laurent sheath and Armani jacket. She strode up to the table with the nervous nanny following.
“Did you eat your dinner, Sherlock?”
Mycroft held his breath expecting Sherlock to use his new favourite word. Mummy did not like being told no.
Mycroft breathed again. But not so much that his tummy bulged more. Mummy had commented yesterday on the tightness of his clothes.
Sherlock looked his mother up and down and said, “Go out.”
“Yes. Very observant.”
“Your father and I are going out to dinner.”
Mycroft watched in horror as Sherlock put on his pouty face and started to say “No!” Before Sherlock said the word, he looked again at their mother, and remained silent. Instead, Sherlock held out his hand and offered his mother the roll he held. Mummy didn’t take it. She said, “Thank you. But we’re going out to dinner with Lord and Lady Westmoreland. Nanny will take the roll. You look all sticky. Mycroft, why is he covered in treacle? I’ll shall have to speak to cook. Do try and teach him how to eat properly.”
“Getting him to eat everything was good. I expect to hear that he’s cleaned his plate from now on.”
Mycroft was torn between pride at the praise and terror at the thought of trying to force Sherlock to eat each meal. He spotted Sherlock staring at him in a calculated manner and then smiling. Mycroft quickly ran options through his head. He sighed. At least part of his allowance would have to be spent bribing nanny to let out his clothes.
After Mummy gave both boys air kisses so as not to risk getting too close to sticky Sherlock or damage her make-up, she left with Nanny in tow carrying the empty trays downstairs.
“Sherlock, let’s get your bath, put you in your pajamas, and get you ready for bed.”
Mycroft sighed. “Alright, we can play one game, but only after you are clean and in your pajamas.”
Sherlock was surprisingly cooperative as Mycroft got the bath ready. Sherlock had even stood like a little prince with his arms out waiting for Mycroft to disrobe him. But once placed in the water, the glint in his eye and small twitch at the corner of his mouth warned Mycroft that his baby brother was planning something. As Mycroft leaned forward to begin lathering him, Sherlock splashed water with both hands hitting Mycroft square in the face. Mycroft sputtered. Sherlock laughed and splashed wildly.
“Sherlock! Stop it!”
Mycroft grabbed a towel and dried his face while saying, “If you don’t stop, you’ll get me all wet. I’ll have to go change and there won’t be any time for a game.”
Sherlock, who’d been madly giggling as he splashed with both his hands and feet, paused. His face took on a thoughtful expression and Mycroft would have sworn he could see his baby brother’s mind processing all of the possibilities of his continuing to splash. Sherlock scowled and said, “‘K. Game and story.”
Mycroft knew he shouldn’t give in, but he was tired and still had lessons to finish. “Alright, a game and one, just one, story.”
Sherlock gave a huge sigh, but merely pouted as Mycroft finished bathing and diapering him and put him in his p.j.s. Once Mycroft set him down on the nursery floor, Sherlock strode to the middle and said, “Game!”
“Give me a minute. I have to clean the bath room and put your clothes in the hamper.”
Sherlock stamped his foot, folded his arms over his chest, and glared at Mycroft. But he didn’t say anything else until Mycroft returned.
“Okay, which game. Ball?”
“Game! Game! Game!”
Then Mycroft realized what Sherlock wanted. It had been a way to distract Sherlock after lunch while Nanny ate. “Alright, I’ll close my eyes and and you change something. Tell me when you are ready and I’ll tell you what you changed.”
Mycroft closed his eyes. He could hear Sherlock’s bare feet patter across the floor several times. Finally, Sherlock called out, “Now!”
Mycroft opened his eyes and slowly turned around scanning the entire nursery. “You put the bear on the window seat. You took your cup and put it by Nanny’s chair. You picked up your pillow but put it back almost in the same place. And…you tossed your shoes in the trash.”
Sherlock clapped and giggled as Mycroft fished the shoes out of the trash. Then he said, “Me! Me! Me!”
Mycroft looked at his brother. “You want to close your eyes and have me make a change?”
Mycroft hesitated. “Alright. But just one game and then a story and then to bed.”
Sherlock didn’t say anything, but closed his eyes tightly, scrunching up his face. Mycroft looked around the room. He didn’t want to make it too hard and discourage Sherlock. He took the bright blue elephant that sat on Sherlock’s bed and put it in the wardrobe. “Ready,” he said.
Sherlock opened his eyes, turned once around the room, frowned and said, “‘lphunt.”
“Good,” said Mycroft, but before he could say anything else, Sherlock padded over to the wardrobe and tried to open the door. Mycroft was surprised and pleased. He went over and pulled the elephant out of the wardrobe. Sherlock grabbed it. It was almost as big as he was as he held it close with two arms.
“Okay, we’ve played a game. Now a story and bedtime.”
“No! Again! Hard.”
“Sherlock, you agreed.”
“No! Again! Hard!”
Mycroft thought of all the math problems he had to finish before he could go to sleep. Perhaps just one more game. Besides, he was curious how well Sherlock would do.
“One more game. But only one. And I’m going to make it very hard, so no crying if you can’t solve it.”
Sherlock smiled. “‘K.” He closed his eyes and scrunched his face again, the elephant still held in a tight squeeze.
Mycroft moved quickly around the room making a few changes. Then he walked around the room just to make more noise and confuse Sherlock. “Now?” Sherlock asked with eyes still closed. “Now,” said Mycroft.
Sherlock opened his eyes and looked slowly around the room. He let go of the elephant who dropped the inch to the floor and fell over. Then Sherlock pointed at the nanny’s rocker and said, “Knit.” Next he pointed to the dresser and said, “Brush.” He pointed to his bedside table and said, “Cup.” Sherlock stared at his brother.
“Very good, Sherlock!” Mycroft had stuffed Nanny’s knitting under the chair cushion, put the hair brush out of sight, and put Sherlock’s cup in the nightstand drawer. Sherlock had missed only one thing. One small thing that Mycroft would have been very surprised if Sherlock had spotted it. “Now it’s time for a story and bed.”
Mycroft took his hand and helped him into bed. As Mycroft tucked Sherlock in, Sherlock yawned and said, “Shoe.”
Mycroft stopped. “What?”
Sherlock pointed at Mycroft and said, “ Shoe. Tie.”
Mycroft’s eyes widened. “Very good, Sherlock.” He reached down and took off the shoe that he’d unlaced before. Then he untied the other shoe and took it off and climbed onto the bed to sit beside his brother. “How about Where the Wild Things Are?”
“Which book then?”
Mycroft sighed. He now knew Sherlock was only pretending that he couldn’t spot Waldo. It was going to be a long night.
### The End ###
I love this one. The other had more pain in it for them both, but this, oh. This was a gem. 🙂
I shouldn’t like to meet Mummy. I hate so-called “benign” neglect of children. I’d hurt her.
Thanks, Anne, for the compliment. Glad you’re enjoying the series.
Don’t be too hard on Mummy. Not only is she a product of her economic class and time, she is probably either psychopathic, narcissistic, high functioning sociopathic or autistic herself. Not all psychopaths and sociopaths are evil or bad. Many simply lack the empathy to understand the feelings of others and, like most people, think everyone else is like them. Since ASPD (Anti-Social Personality Disorder) tends to be 50% genetic and 50% environmental, I took the tack that their father was an extremely intelligent upper-class man and Mummy was an extremely intelligent, ambitious ASPD woman at a time when a woman’s best chance for success was still almost exclusively through marriage. I’ve seen a number of “Trophy Wives” and their “Trophy Children” up close and some research from the 80’s on women’s psychological attitudes towards men, career, and families. It was a bit chilling, but in one of those wonderful circles of life, it’s proving very useful now.
Mummy, and Father, will be seen in a little better light shortly. And we’ll see that Sherlock comes by his nicotine addiction naturally. That’s all the spoilers, I’ll give for now, sweetie. (Oops. That’s Dr. Who.)
I just thought of a good contemporary example. Leonard’s mother on The Big Bang Theory is a classic ASPD mother who isn’t actually evil or bad, but inadvertently toxic to her son.
Ah! I haven’t seen much of Big Bang Theory. Enough to be amused by it — it is funny! — and to know the main characters only.
I can not like Mummy and yet eventually understand her. She is a bit like Chrestomanci’s mother in The Lives of Christopher Chant. Neglect always makes me upset with the neglectful.
Thank you for pointing out that she, like her sons, is probably more than just what I’m seeing here. First impressions are so hard to overcome; and young Mycroft especially makes me feel so bad for him.
Now if Mycroft and Sherlock would ever leave their adversarial relationship, that would be interesting. Not sure they can. I do love watching them.