Everything’s back to normal, or is it?
Hello, what is there to eat?” That’ll be Eldest Child home from his holidays then.
He leans down, gives me a massive hug then dumps a bag in front of the washing machine with one hand and opens the fridge door with the other.
Youngest bursts in next.
“Mother! I’ve missed you,” she says. “What’s for tea?”
I’m ahead of them. Tea has been made, washing washed, rooms tidied, because after kicking my height with glee for a day or so I actually missed them. I must have the worst case of Stockholm Syndrome ever. I’ve been cooking, washing and hanging out with them for two decades now and I don’t know how to stop. I can’t even remember the last time I fantasised about them living elsewhere.
They make me laugh. They fill the house with chat and music and friends. They like my food. They like me. They invite me to the pub (Eldest) or for a walk (Middle) and ask what I’m doing/reading/watching.
Of course Youngest is still reassuringly teenage and finds me “annoying”. Apart from on “special” occasions like Mother’s Day when she took me to a cafe I like but she hates (“bleughh, who likes cauliflower and blue cheese soup? I’ll just have water”), normally she’d rather remove her eye with a spoon than hang out with her mother.
She pulls out her pictures of their trip to visit Middle in Portugal.
“Here’s the beach.”
“Here’s Middle Child with his beard and moustache.”
“OMG what’s wrong with his head?”
“It’s an app to make it look weird.”
“Oh. Do you have any normal ones?”
“Why would I have normal pictures of my brother?”
Again, normal. Then she spoils it.
“So, I’ll tidy the kitchen,” she says. “And everyone has to keep it clean too from now on. I like tidying,” she adds.
Eldest slides out, silently, while I’m handed a cloth.
It’s OK, this time next week things will be back to normal.