Eldest Child is sitting at the bottom of the stairs staring at his socks. He’s playing a gig tonight so he’s giving some consideration to his look.
“I need some new boots,” he says.
Guilt kicks in and I say, rashly, “I’ll buy you some,” then can’t help adding, “but if you had a job you could buy them yourself.”
“Yes, I could, but boots aren’t really a necessity. Not worth getting a job for. Don’t worry, I’ll wear Middle Child’s boots instead. I like them.”
“Have you checked with him?” I say. I don’t want a repeat of pant wars, must be about four years ago now, when they realised they were just too big to fight each other and a black eye and split lip were too big a price to pay for the best boxers.
“Yes, he’s let me borrow them before. He doesn’t mind at all,” says Eldest breezily, pulling them on.
Across the hall Middle is watching him, with a ‘one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you’ look. He does mind. In fact, he’s raging. Silently.
“Nice,” says Eldest, clueless, admiring the boots.
“Keep them,” says his brother, quietly. “I don’t want them any more.” He’s utterly scunnered.
“Thanks,” says Eldest, chuffed.
“No,” I say. “They’re Middle’s boots, I bought them for his birthday, and he doesn’t have to lend them if he doesn’t want to. Wear your trainers,” I say to Eldest.
“S’all right, I don’t want them any more,” says Middle. “I kept them for best, but he’s borrowed them so much the heels are going. He might as well have them. He always does this,” he says.
“I’ll get the heels fixed,” I say.
“No. S’OK,” says Middle.
“I’ll buy you a new pair of boots.”
“No. Doesn’t matter,” he says and disappears to manage his anger with the help of his Dalai Lama book.
“Told you he didn’t mind,” says Eldest, oblivious. “And if you could just get the heels fixed for me, these will be perfect. Sweet.” n