Middle Child greets me when I come home from work with a hug, a kiss to the top of the head and a ‘would you like a cup of tea mum?’ All very nice, but then the manboys often startle me like this these days. Then he hits me with it: “I’ve got good news.”
My heart sinks. I’m just in the door. I’ve got the kitchen to clean up and the tea to make, Youngest to help with homework, Christmas cards still to write, and I really don’t know if I’ve got the energy for ‘good news’ as well.
I just don’t want to hear it. When people say ‘good news’, it never is, but you have to say things like ‘what a brilliant opportunity, thank you’, or ‘what an exciting challenge’. But I don’t want to be negative around the young ‘uns so I say, “Oh good, but tell me the bad news first.”
“There isn’t any bad news,” he says, bursting to share whatever it is that is making him so happy. “You’re going to be very pleased.”
“No,” I tell him. “You’re meant to say, ‘there’s good news and bad news, which do you want first?’ And I say ‘the bad news’ because it gets it out of the way and then the good news helps me get over it.”
I watch a cloud of uncertainty drift across Middle Child’s brow.
“But there isn’t any bad news,” he says. “Only good news. Very good news.” He grins.
OK, what could it be? He’s got a great new (highly paid) job? He’s found the mortgage money down the back of the sofa? No. Why can’t I just have a quiet night, without any good news?
“OK. What’s your good news,” I say, braced for disappointment.
“I bought a new guitar today,” he says. “A semi-acoustic hollow body.”
I laugh. He had me at guitar.
“Why are you laughing?” he says, pleased at the mood change, breaking out his new guitar and into a boss bossanova.
Well, amusement that he still thinks his pleasure is shared through an invisible umbilical chord.
And relief. Sometimes good news really is good news.