I’m heading downstairs when I see they’re back from skateboarding. One is washing his feet with the bathroom door open, dropping towels onto the floor, the other is making them both cups of tea, trailing sugar in an arc across the worktop and floor.
“I’ll leave the Hoover out so you can do your rooms,” I say, sarcastic.
“Yeah, yeah…” says Eldest, in a gladhandling manner.
Middle says unexpectedly, “Yes, I might! I’ve tidied my room. It’s tidier than the sitting room even.”
“What? I’ve just cleaned in there,” I say and race in to see what they’ve done to it.
“See,” says Middle Child, behind me. “What? It’s fine.”
“The book case. Maybe you should alphabeticalise your books,” he says. “Just a thought.”
“Here’s a thought. I’m going to move into a place that’s only big enough for me (OK, and Youngest), I’m tired of skivvying after you two.”
“Grandkids,” says Middle. “When you’re clearing up after our kids, you’ll think ‘this is such fun’. You won’t mind then.”
Do they know me at all?
“Let’s just rewind to ‘clearing up after your kids’. I won’t be. I’ll be on my world tour and you’ll have to clear up your own…” I look around... “eggshells… and ketchupy plates...”
“Aw yeah, I just left them because I don’t cook eggs very often,” says Middle, by way of explanation.
Eldest says, “Plates, well… they were plates...”
“Tidy them up!” I say, upset by the lame excuses as much as the mess.
“OK, this conversation is taking a downturn,” says Eldest. “Disengage,” he says to his brother, and they both hot foot it upstairs.
I brandish a dirty spatula after them, then slump next to the kettle. That’s when I see what they’ve left me – a cup of tea and a handful of Pringles.
Aw, how thoughtful.