Janet Christie: Middle Child looks like he’s going to tear up

Janet Christie. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Janet Christie. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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MIDDLE Child sits on the bottom of the stairs staring into space.

“I just can’t imagine it,” he says. I just can’t see it like you can.”

There’s a big mournful pause.

“My mind works differently to yours,” he says, sadly. “I can’t picture it ever being any different to how it is now.”

He’s talking about his room and my vision of it being tidy, tidier, or something approaching that.

Over the years I’ve been through frustration, impatience, grief and disbelief, but now I’m finally coming round to the idea that it really is a vision thing. And he just can’t see it.

“Right, you go out and I’ll do it,” I say.

“No, you won’t be able to,” he says. “It’s impossible. Impossible. It just can’t be done.”

I push him and his skateboard out of the door. I can do this thing.

Upstairs I survey his room, bracing myself, and working out a plan.

Should I go for themes, such as jars of salsa dip of which I can see five peeping out from some of the piles?

Or socks? There are maybe 20, balled up, crusty.

Or Jo Malone candles – despite the candle ban, clearly he has a thing about Pomegranate Noir.

No, I’ll attack it location by location, starting with a tiny table of trash behind the door. Two hours later I’ve cleared the floor and all the surfaces.

Middle Child returns and pokes his head round the door. He looks like he’s going to tear up.

“Thanks Mum,” he says, kissing the top of my head. “I can’t believe you’ve managed all this. I’ll do the bookcase while you go and have a cup of tea.”

Soon there are three boxes of books piled up in the hall, ready to go to the charity shop. A passing Eldest Child pauses and pokes at them.

“Elvis the Pelvis! He can’t throw that out. I’ll have that,” he says, lifting up an old favourite.

“It’s for eight year olds,” I tell him.

“Don’t care. It’s full of facts,” he says, and carries it off to his lair.

Well, that’s all right now mama. His room’s next. And Elvis will definitely be leaving the building. n

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