Every night as I’m about to drop off to sleep, the boys troop to the bottom of my bed to weigh themselves, in a ritual as predictable as the Serengeti wildebeest migration, and only slightly less disruptive.
I don’t know why the scales live under my bed, but they do. I shoved them there once, an unwanted Christmas gift from Other Parent, and there they stay, stubbing my pinky toe every time I pass, a useful reminder…
So just before turning in for the night, the boys take it in turns to stand on said scales and compare diet and exercise regimens, exchanging tips and observations in a fascinating display of the behaviour of that rapidly multiplying species, the protein-obsessed youth.
(I know they’re multiplying because the woman in the fish shop told me when I doubled my weekly purchase. “Are your lot doing that protein thing? Yeah, they’re all at it. Expensive too. Hope you’re putting their rent up.” Rent? Er no. I’m just glad they’re finally eating properly.)
Back at the foot of the bed, the protein obsessives’ drop-in chat continues.
“Another three pounds, how did you do that?” says one.
“Double meals. Two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners. And protein shakes,” says the other, who is edging ahead in the sibling scale-athon.
“These muscles here, I call them Tom Hardys.”
“Aw yeah?” says his brother, impressed.
And on they go, discussing bench presses, blah, blah, blah…
“OK, I’m awake again now!” I snap and sit up in bed. “Really people? Why do you want a fat neck? It just makes your head look tiny. And protein shakes? Eat a proper diet! There’s some of my lovely lentil soup in the fridge – that’s protein, eat that instead of expensive dust!”
Biggie Smalls groans in agreement – his idea of a protein shake is flinging a mouse round my bedroom till it’s stupefied, when I can catch it in my dedicated Pringles tube and release it out the back door with a bit of cheese for its trouble. Well, the mice around here probably need to up their protein intake too.
“Soup?” says Eldest. “Let’s have some of that.” And so the herd moves off towards the kitchen, springing across a fast-flowing river and dodging a bask of crocodiles as they go…