Middle’s birthday, yay! But he’s not known for enjoying lavish celebrations or being the focus of attention so I tread carefully when I hear him stirring in the morning.
He’s in the absent Youngest Child’s bedroom after a year of flat-hunting in a rental market where securing a place in Edinburgh means beating others who have two months advance rent and a deposit in cash, making it as likely as winning the lottery. So he’s been sofa/bed/sleeping in his van surfing and when Youngest is at Other Parent’s, she generously, under strict instructions about things like eating in bed, allows him to use her room.
“Would you like a fancy breakfast? Pancakes?” I call through.
“No thanks. Got raspberries here.”
Raspberries in bed? Nooooo… Oh well, his special day, I let him off. Not that Youngest will if he ruins her colour co-ordinated, curated, bed sheets.
He likes his birthday chill, nae fuss - maybe a game of pool this evening if we fancy joining him and his mates, and no pointless presents because he’ll let me know what he really needs.
But cake is allowed - on the kitchen counter it smiles in anticipation, the usual caterpillar one, the only potential flashpoint being if Eldest and Youngest make a move on the face. The family birthday banner hangs above the fireplace at a jaunty angle, but otherwise it’s as quiet and calm as the moment just after you’ve given birth, when words are unnecessary. Others may have cheered or cried, but Middle and I were cocooned in silence, just gazing.
“Tea?” I venture when he emerges to sit on the sofa.
“Yes, I wouldn’t mind a cup please,” he says, concentrating on his phone screen.
“It was a sunny spring day like this when you were born,” I say looking out of the kitchen window as I fill the kettle. “The sunlight made you blink when you opened your eyes for the first time. We called you Mole.”
I pass him his Grinch mug.
“Yeah? Can you check this please?” he says.
A bank transfer for a rental flat deposit. At last. Today is possibly the day he gets the key.
“Would you come with me to sign the lease?”
And then I’ll hit him with his present. Ok so I broke the rules and went completely mad… bought him a mattress protector. Well, it’s a special day for me too.