I seem to have spent the the entire bank holiday weekend worrying. My seven-year-old keeps beating up on my five-year-old on the grounds "He is annoying". In retaliation, my five-year-old has developed a cry so piercing it clears the trees of rooks. My husband took time to draw up a chair, sit down and complain that none of the children wanted to do anything with him and constantly refuse to do what he tells them to. I suggested he make this complaint to them and not to me. Finally, my mother (who is staying with us) is in the throes of an arthritis flare-up and keeps breaking down in tears. Oh, and I had to make an expedition to the A&E in the local hospital because I thought my seven-year-old had broken a bone in his foot having (accidentally) kicked his brother in the shin playing football. As it turns out, he is just badly bruised but it did nothing to alleviate my mood.
The seven-year-old beating up on the five-year-old drives me to despair. It is difficult because the five-year-old effectively stalks him which is in one way charming and in another a bit much in terms of personal space. I have decided to give the seven-year-old a bit more one-on-one and see what happens. What will probably happen is I will begin to irritate him instead of his brother but hey, I'm your mother - get used to it kiddo. The problem with my husband is one of expectations. He is a very good father and would spend his whole time taking them on cycle rides and down to the beach but I expect they have a big dollop of my genes which means they would rather do the boy equivalent of drink coffee and read a book (that is to say snack while watching endless manic cartoons). Regarding my mother, this is a difficult one because all I can do is hope the new anti-inflammatory medication kicks in and tell her to sit down. I walked in yesterday and she was virtually horizontal over the sink trying to wash a few cups up, weeping into the water. We had one of our usual exchanges whereby I said "I don't need you to wash up mum", and she said "I need to wash up", and I said "You need to sit down". I ended up bundling her into her blazer and putting her in the car for "a run down" to the shops to buy nothing in particular.
On the up side, we went out for dinner last night with the nice people who live in the house with the box room. The conversation involved Agas and poachers (who come into the countryside from Northumberland towns after deer, bring them down with dogs, hack off their hind legs and leave the carcass behind). For the second time in three days, it also involved a conversation with someone (a fellow guest) whose family have lived in Northumberland for 500 years. The same thing happened the other day when we went for coffee after the election count and one of the Conservative activists told me he could trace his family back 500 years to a particular house in the sands and a mill on a local river. I have been trying to recall if I ever had a conversation with anyone in London who told me: "My family have lived in London for 500 years you know". I cannot recall one.