Janet Christie: “You will move out sometime, won’t you?”

Pic Lisa Ferguson 25/08/2015''New Magazine byline pics - Janet Christie
Pic Lisa Ferguson 25/08/2015''New Magazine byline pics - Janet Christie
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I’ve always believed as one door closes another slams shut, but this week I thought I heard the distant sound of a door creaking open.

Youngest Child is approaching teendom so will be distant and embarrassed for the next seven years or so. I’m OK with that because as she drifts away, the boys are drifting back.

It started with cups of tea appearing on my bedside table in the morning and arriving home to Middle Child cooking omelettes and making French dressing for a salad. They’re also up for general mild chatting without being propelled into a seething rage by something I’ve said. Or not said. Or done. Or not done.

“So what did you do at school today?” says Eldest to Youngest, a tea-time gambit I would never attempt. But no, instead of a “nothing!” and a sigh, he gets a, “well, it was a good day. We had CDT, RMI...”

“FBI and the CIA And the BBC, BB King And Doris Day...” I say.

She glares at me.

“Beatles reference,” I say.

“Yeah,” says Eldest, kindly, bringing me into the chat.

Youngest ignores me and turns to Eldest instead.

“I like it when you’re here,” she says.

“Yes, that’s why I came back. I missed you all. Tea-time, family…”

“Yes, but you will move out some time won’t you?” I say. “All of you?”

“I might not. I like it here,” says Eldest.

“Me too,” says Middle.

Youngest smiles, content.

I’m two decades in, will it never end?

Then this morning, a discovery that chills me to the marrow.

A Werther’s Original on a shelf in the shower. It’s a sign. They’ve binned the moving out bit and segued into premature dotage.

“I was going to eat it, then forgot,” says Middle Child.

“I ate it,” I tell him. “If anyone’s eating Werther’s Originals in the shower it’s me.”

“Er, OK,” he says across a newly opened gap of cross-generational misunderstanding. That’s more like it.