The proof that Youngest Child is growing up is Christmas Tree shaped.
“I suppose it’s time we got the tree out of the shed,” I say, uncharacteristically stoked for the season of baubles and fairy lights (any excuse to celebrate and glam up the grim this year is good as far as I’m concerned). “It’s Christmaaaaaaaaas!” I tell her.
“No, we shouldn’t bother,” she has never said, but she’s saying it now.
“What? But you love the Christmas tree,” I say. “When did you turn all Grinch?”
Come to think of it we’re mid-December and it’s not been mentioned. We’ve not had our usual to tree or not to tree argument, till now. Something’s up.
“Nah, no tree. Not with the kitten,” she says. “She’ll climb up it and swing from the top, play football with the baubles. Look what she’s done to your houseplants, snigger.”
“Don’t mind. She’d make a great tree topper. Climbing is healthy. Same with her dancing along the piano Aristocat-style and rummaging around behind it out of reach - although how she managed to get one of the hammers out is a mystery. I found it on the floor. Took me ages to work out what it was and where it had come from.”
“No, that was Middle Child. He was round while you were away at the weekend, playing the piano,” she says, grassing him up.
That explains it. I love a Little Richard/Jerry Lee Lewis medley, but that piano has had a whole lot of shaking and is going to need some serious fixing and tuning if I’m going to re-learn how to play Moonlight Sonata.
“You did joinery, could you have a look?” I say.
“Nope, didn’t do pianos,” she says. “Just doors and windows. And don’t say transferable skills because I’m too busy making a puppy-tooth jacket for uni, and I’ve got my driving test.”
I do my Suarez at the end of the Uruguay/Ghana game face.
“Look, Other Parent will have a proper real tree, up to the ceiling, glass baubles, real honey wax candles, magical - you can come and look at that.”
“Oh OK. Will there be a fire bucket?”
“Of course. And his oven’s working properly too, unlike ours, so it’s all good. Another of the advantages of coming from what you love to call a ‘broken’ home.” She laughs. “Two Christmases. And one has a tree. You did good.”