All three of them are corralled in the kitchen, lured by the promise of food. I seize my chance. It’s time this lot learned to cook. I try the subtle approach.
“When my mother, your granny, was my age, she was dead,” I say. “What if that happened to me? If I wasn’t here you’d all starve.”
“Too far mother, too far,” says Youngest Child. “Anyway, you were way older than me when she died. I’ve got a lot of years to go. What’s for tea?”
“OK, but you two haven’t,” I say, rounding on the boys. “You are technically adults. You should have a repertoire of things you can cook, apart from sandwiches.”
“We can cook,” protests Eldest. “I’ll cook something … soon.”
“Right. We’ll have a rota. Middle Tuesday, Eldest Thursday and Youngest at the weekend.”
“I’m too young to be included in this,” she says.
“You’re at the weekend,” I tell her.
Thursday night comes round and I have to go to a work thing. That’s OK, because Eldest is going to cook pasta.
“No problem. Absolutely, no worries,” he says, not listening.
I talk him through it. Cook the pasta, being careful not to scald anyone with the boiling water. Make a tomato sauce with onions, a tin of tomatoes, herbs, they’ve seen me make this hundreds of times. Even helped, when pushed.
“Mother, we can do it, OMG,” says Youngest.
OK. Later I phone to check they’ve eaten.
“Yes, we had pasta. Very nice. Don’t know why you go on. Got to go,” she says.
When I arrive home there are bowls on the kitchen table, the remains of their meal. There’s sauce, check, and pasta, check, but why is it swimming in water, a slotted spoon poking out?
“Why didn’t you pour out the water?” I ask Eldest Child.
“You’re meant to pour out the water?” he says. “Top tip. I’ll do that next time.”
Next time? I like the sound of that.