I saw it as I was unpacking the Sainsbury's Basic range of shopping I'd just bought on my way home from the job I squeeze in in-between everything else in life to try and slightly claw back our rising debt (resulting entirely from purchases that Ethan has made over the last twelve months). There it was lying on the kitchen floor: the tell-tale empty John Lewis carrier bag (it hadn't even occurred to him to hide the evidence).
Thankfully this was a day that all three kids were at school and pre-school so I could wade right in and confront him with it. What top quality purchase had he been making whilst I, at his request, had been desperately trying to shave a few pence off our weekly grocery shop? The answer: two fine Egyptian cotton towels...to go with the set of six he bought eighteen months ago when we first moved in. Which, in turn, bolstered the eight or so random collection of towels we already owned. And why did he feel we needed to extend our towel collection? Because he wanted some towels that could be his and his alone - that would be untarnished by the kids, that wouldn't make the weekly trip to swimming lessons and back, that would always remain soft and clean and colour-coded (his = light brown, the rest of the family's = dark brown). Never mind that this completely unnecessary purchase was made with money that we didn't have, that he was completely going back on his word not to make any more purchases for himself and that, in that one selfish purchase, he had spent a third of the weekly salary that I was working my guts out to earn in order to make at least a slight reduction to our overdraft.
I was steaming mad.
A fortnight before it had been a new pillowcase (yes - Egyptian cotton again) and he'd sworn that would be his last purchase. I'm bracing myself for the Egyptian cotton tea-towels that I feel sure will follow...
Call me unsympathetic but, Aspergers or not, these are luxuries that we cannot afford and that Ethan can surely do without. I understand that he likes the feel of certain fabrics, that he doesn't like to share towels and that he gets a bit anxious about the quality of cotton that he lays his head on. But hey - I would dearly love to have Oliver in pre-school for an extra half a day a week so I can actually have time to write, I'm anxious about my grey roots showing and a colour from a hairdresser instead of out of a box would greatly improve my self-esteem. But I know that we can't afford these things - and that it would be selfish of me to spend money we haven't got on things that would only benefit me. So I don't buy them. Ethan either doesn't have this ability to reason, think of the family as a whole and make do, or he doesn't care.
Either way, I'm off to bed - in my Sainsbury's pyjamas to rest my head on my Ikea pillow. And I'm sure I'll sleep just as soundly as Ethan on his 'superior' products - more soundly in fact, as I'll have the smug glow of self-sacrifice.