Last week my third son came home from one of his regular baby-sitting jobs and burst into the house looking for me.
‘Mum! Mum! Thank you SOOOOO much. Thank you for having me and bringing me up and looking after me! Thank you, thank you!! SO much!!’
I tore my eyes away from the telly.
‘What’s happened?’ I asked him carefully.
‘Ha!’ I said. ‘So now you know.’
‘Yeah. Oh god, it was everywhere! And the smell! UGH! Thank you Mum, honestly.’
My third son is seventeen today and though I say so myself, he’s a lovely young man, confident, assured, sorted. It wasn’t always like that of course: being the third son he was always the first to get caught in games of ‘It’ and always the last in races, and having two older brothers who are always better at everything than you can be tough.
You never know, though, do you, what advantages a family position will bestow on you to make up for the obvious disadvantages. You never know what the resulting gifts of those extra struggles will be. I remember saying to him cheerfully throughout his childhood:
‘Yeah, but you know what, the first son may get the cow, and the second son may get the ass. But it’s the third son who ends up with the talking cat.’
These days you wouldn’t know there was any age difference between the three of them, there is no question that he can hold his own; he is not cowed, in fact quite the reverse, and his physical size reflects his growth in other ways. It’s a constant source of amusement for the others that the tables have now turned.
When I said to my oldest son: ‘Aaaaaah, it’s your little brother’s birthday today!’ he replied:
‘Little?? Little?? He’s bigger than both of us!! He can pick me up and swing me round!!’
Some talking cat!