Family: Janet Christie’s Mum’s the Word

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Youngest Child has a stomach bug so I work from home to look after her. This gives me a rare opportunity to monitor what goes on when I’m not around and everyone else is. I suspect the heating is ramped up and they graze endlessly, judging from the state of the kitchen most nights when I get home (fridge empty, sink full).

Sure enough the boys are on a day off from college (why? It’s midweek) so for most of the morning they’re asleep. (To be fair they’ll make up for this later as they both have part-time jobs – Eldest is a nightclub cloakroom attendant – ideal he says, reuniting the tired and emotional with their jackets and hours spent reading music biographies – and Middle is a waiter serving up sizzling Asian fusion and indulging his love of squid.)

So the only sound as I tap away on my laptop is Biggie Smalls groaning in his sleep and the occasional plaintive enquiry from Youngest about how soon until she can keep down a bowl of tomato soup.

“Another couple of hours at least,” I say, on a roll and not wanting to move. Finally I cave and feed her soup which works its magic and she’s up and out of bed.

“I’m bored,” she says.


“Right. I’ll tidy the kitchen.”

Really? This is new. She really is bored.

There’s a crashing of cupboard doors followed by snatches of muttering: “why can’t people shut cupboard doors!” and “... I just DO NOT understand why people can’t put the LIDS on…” then finally a “Right, if anyone comes in here and messes it up again today, they’re in trouble.”

Good. The kitchen is spotless, gleaming, pristine.

“Now, don’t let anyone in!” I say.

“I won’t. Right, I’m making cupcakes,” she says. And pulls the flour out of the cupboard, slams it down on the counter, causing a mushroom cloud of white particles to erupt. It was nice while it lasted.