My sister’s brood of three collectively straddle the Threshold of Sleep Attractiveness, that point in one’s life where sleep changes from being a nuisance—something that gets in the way of relentless energetic activity, to an impossibly addictive drug that one simply can’t get enough of.
Thus the elder two are largely impossible to prise from their beds of a morning, whereas the youngest still rises early, and forcibly resists all encouragements to return to his bed of an evening. I am unsure as to when exactly this threshold is reached in life, but suspect it is automatically awarded to a child upon attaining the status of Teenager.
So it was, as I descended kitchenwards on Saturday morning, somewhat bleary-eyed after a night of fighting for sleep against the noisy soundtrack of a neighbour’s garden party (having triumphed in the fight only when I belatedly remembered the existence of my earplugs at 1.30am), that I was accosted by The Boy Wonder Jnr, who appeared to have been up for hours, demanding to be taken to the park. He needed to do an experiment, he said, having watched a YouTube video which had demonstrated that it was possible to drop a raw egg from a helicopter, several hundred feet above the ground, onto grassy turf, and the egg wouldn’t break. It was in the Guinness Book of World Records, apparently.
I was sceptical, and attempted to stave off the park excursion, protesting that I didn’t have access to a helicopter. I even tried applying Grown-Up wisdom, suggesting that it really might not work, but he was adamant in the way that an excitable nine-year-old sometimes is of a morning, and after I had breakfasted we set off to the park, armed with permission to raid two eggs from his mother’s kitchen, and some gloves and a food recycling bag, just in case.
On arriving in the park he threw an egg as far up in the air as he could, to replicate, as best he could, the altitude of a helicopter, and watched as it came down.
It exploded on impact. With quite a satisfying “pop”.
We repeated it with the second egg, over a patch of slightly longer grass, so as to make it scientifically official, or something, but only managed the same result.
The Boy Wonder Jnr was crestfallen. I was secretly pleased, that Grown-Up wisdom had triumphed over YouTube.
The previous evening, Radio 2 was playing in the kitchen during dinner, when the opening bars of Sweet Caroline drifted over from the portable speaker, bringing a degree of animated excitement from the Grown-Ups present. It’s very hard to not experience a lift in your spirits when Sweet Caroline comes on, at least if you’re a certain age.
Alexa was instructed to turn up 3, and I was so inspired I grabbed the nearest musical instrument and played along. Regrettably, the nearest instrument was a recorder belonging to the Boy Wonder Jnr, and it’s been a number of decades since I tried my hand at recorder-playing. Accordingly, the resulting accompaniment was subtly off-key, perhaps on account of my rustiness, and perhaps not being quite in the correct key to start with. And a slightly out-of-tune recorder, being played badly, is quite something.
Inspired by his uncle’s musical virtuosity, the Boy Wonder Jnr commandeered the instrument, and began to play something that was, if anything, even more tuneless and out of key.
And so it was that the recorder was wrestled from his grasp by my sister and deposited unceremoniously in the food recycling bin.
The Boy Wonder Jnr was, again, crestfallen, and tried to remove it, whereupon I realised the genius of my sister, who has been a nanny/childminder for decades, and has learned a trick or two.
‘No! It’s been in there with the raw chicken. It’ll need sterilised before it can be played again…’
This was perhaps more Grown-Up Cunning, than Wisdom, per se, but worthy of respect all the same.
I mentally doffed my cap.