AFTER a series of unfortunate events I’m late picking Youngest Child up from the park and am circling the neighbourhood in the dark, stomach sinking. She’s not answering her mobile so I call her friends and flush her out from the house where she’s gone to wait, sensible girl.
“I’m so sorry, got caught up with work,” I say as she jumps in the car.
“No, I’m sorry mum,” she says.
“No, I’m sorry, it’s my fault not yours. You did the right thing. Good girl.”
“No, I’m sorry,” she says again, “Don’t be angry.”
“Why would I be angry?”
“It’s just … well… I… leftmyphoneonthebus,” she says.
“Oh well. Never mind,” I say. “These things happen. I’m always losing things. Cars, houses, men....”
“Yes, but my phone. I love my phone. I need my phone. Sniff.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll call lost property. Someone will have handed it in.”
“No they won’t. This is Edinburgh. It’s gone. Sniff.”
She’s right. I tell the boys not to give her a hard time. Fat chance.
“Lost her phone?” says Middle Child. “Well, she can’t get another just like that. Remember when I lost mine and you made me wait six months. Taught me a good lesson.”
“Yes, but she’s sorry.”
“Got to learn,” he says.
Then Eldest Child weighs in.
“She has to have the cheapest phone like I did after I lost mine in Maga (luf). When you made us go without, it taught us to value things and take care of them,” he says.
“Hmm. You have learnt well, grasshoppers,” I say.
“Grasshoppers?” Eldest and Middle look at me, confused.
“Kung Fu, 1970s TV, never mind.” (They’ve already claimed The Buzzcocks, they’re not having David Carradine).
Youngest Child appears, eyes brimful of tears.
“You’re absolutely right,” I say to the boys. “Now explain it to her while I go and lie down.”