Family: Mum's the word

It's not the taking, it's the breaking

PIC PHIL WILKINSON.TSPL / JOHNSTON PRESS JANET CHRISTIE , MAGAZINE WRITER

Sunday morning, I’ll have a peaceful day, bit of light cleaning, online food shopping, washing, maybe a walk,” I say, stroking a purring Biggie Smalls.

But no, something’s kicking off in the hall. The boys, or “Grown Men!” as Youngest Child likes to call them, are arguing.

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“£$%^&*^&,” cable,” says one.

“£$%^&*^&,” cable,” says the other.

“£$%^&*^&,” taking my stuff,” says one.

“£$%^&*^&,” taking your stuff,” says the other.

Sigh. I thought those days were over.

“You, stop shouting,” I shout at one, “You, stop taking his stuff without asking,” I shout at the other. (I can’t really be bothered shouting, but it’s the only way to be heard over the bickering – is it still bickering when they’re both well over six feet and shave, drive and vote?)

“I DID ask,” says Eldest.

“It’s not the taking, it’s the BREAKING,” says Middle.

“I’ll buy a new one,” I say, to calm things down.

“No! He’ll buy a new one,” says Middle.

“No! I didn’t break it! It just broke when I was using it.”

“It’s not just that, it’s my leads... The dent in my guitar...”

Aw no, Middle is bringing up historic slights from the emotional hinterland; he’s digging deep.

“£$%$£^£$^,” says one.

“$%^%$&^&,” says the other.

I jump between them but somewhere high over my head the debate continues. When did I get too small to grab them both by the hoodie and take them to the park? I consider jumping up and down but just then the cavalry arrives as Eldest’s girlfriend emerges from the bathroom. Seizing my chance I dive behind her and use her as a human shield (sorry EC’s GF). Everyone laughs… kind of. Then leaves…

Peace at last.

“He is right,” says Eldest later. “But I hardly ever take his stuff. And he’s got cables, leads, speakers and amps – his room’s a treasure trove.”

“Please don’t let him hear you call it that,” I say.

“Why? Anyway, OK, I’ll pay for half of a new cable.”

Middle returns later, also calm. “It’s emotionally draining, getting upset,” he says.

“Yeah, no point. And he says he’ll pay half of a new cable,” I report.

“Half? HALF?!” says Middle. “%^&*%*&^%!”

Ooops, round two. n