They’re out of the house, Youngest and Eldest are abroad with Other Parent, hooking up with Middle Child who is already in Portugal, so the kitchen is on shut down and I haven’t shopped for days. I’m child-free and it’s bliss. Three days in and already I’ve wound up at a tango event (the door was open, the music called as I walked past), been to a gig, to the cinema, for tapas, had friends round, researched learning a language, shopped for clothes for me instead of a child, worn Youngest Child’s bomber jacket a lot, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, and I’m planning a big weekend on the razzle with my pals...
Then a phone call, first thing. It’s Middle Child. I knew it wouldn’t last.
“Hello mum, how are you?”
“Great, thanks, hey, how are you?” my mouth says, as my guts clench and my head thinks, ‘something’s happened. OMG. Stay calm’.
But no, there’s desultory chat about sunshine, villas, the bread he made but everyone wanted shop bought, the cheek, etc and the fear subsides. But there’s something coming, I know it. Not calamitous, more of the pest variety, something I’ll have to fix. My children don’t phone me to chat. There’s always an ulterior motive. Money. Have they had a tetanus jag? Money, that kind of thing.
“I’ve lost my phone.”
“In the sea. I jumped over a wave… A big wave, a really good one in fact…”
“It was safe in my top pocket, but in it went. And my bank card, and driving licence.”
I’m tempted to say ‘so?’ And ‘Why are you phoning me?’. But as Youngest likes to say, ‘YOU had children, it was YOUR choice, so don’t go complaining’. Oh, OK.
“And remember how you took out insurance for me?”
Ah yes. How prescient. Eldest Child is right. I do always expect the worst. Is that because I’m a glass half empty person, who doesn’t wake up and smell the roses/coffee/whatever?
“No,” as my best pal likes to say, “it’s because you’re not stupid.”