Before bed, Jacobus helped his Auntie locate the school lunch boxes and the sandwich wrap. She split the last pizza into three piles. Ida’s eyes grew wide again. “Honey, you just eat what you want and bring home what you don’t.”

Ida nodded.

The children watched as their Auntie opened Uncle Jack and poured some into the tumbler. The liquid rose past one of her fingers, then another, before she set the bottle down. “Well darlin’s, I do believe the sandman is calling your names.”

The children exchanged glances – Auntie Jax wasn’t kidding, she was going to drink spirits. They knew their daddy had a drink from time to time, but never their mother. “I’m not some kind of trash,” mother would sniff.

But Auntie Jax didn’t touch the tumbler. It remained where it was as she tucked them in, giving them each a big kiss on the cheek, then rubbing her thumb over the spot.

“Are you really going to drink that stuff when you go downstairs?” Ida asked.

“Yes, sugar. I sure am.”

Ida’s eyebrows knitted together so hard, they practically crossed. Auntie Jax smoothed the hair from the child’s forehead and gave her another kiss. “Night, honey.”

Back downstairs, Jacqueline settled herself into a big, comfy armchair, nursing Uncle Jack. Poor kids. Critters didn’t deserve this mess. Loved her sister, but bless her heart, sometimes the woman needed to use her God-given brains instead of using God as the Almighty Excuse.

The kids got to school on time the next day, just as they did the following two days.

But then Jacqueline had to go in to the school and meet with the teachers, in order to pick up the children’s progress reports. As best as she understood, little Ida was doing just fine, and so was Piet, but Jacobus was in danger of having to repeat the year.

“Well,” the teacher said, as Jacqueline scanned the report, “it’s to be expected.”

“I beg your pardon, but can you explain that to me? Because my nephew is one of the brightest children I’ve ever met.”

The teacher set her shoulders back and pulled herself up straight, which unfortunately put Jacqueline’s bosom at eye level. “Mrs …”

“Aren’t you sweet, but folks call me Jax. Pleased to meet you.”

“Um, yes. Well, as you can see from the results, Jacobus isn’t performing well in his tests and his assignments and–”

“Yes, I can see he isn’t performing well. I got that right here in my hand. What I’m askin’ is, why d’ya think that is?”

“I am sure you are aware how a child’s home life can–”

“Ma’am, let me stop you right there and save you some air. Now … what’s actually happening in class?”

***

Tell us what you think: Is it wrong of Auntie Jax to wear low cut clothing and drink whiskey at night?