The Small One came home from school today with the extended version of the ‘Remember, remember! The fifth of November’ verse. I’d never seen or heard anything beyond the first four lines before and it doesn’t make for light reading. One of the Small One’s friends has Catholic parents. The Small One says she begged the teacher to ask them not to go to church anymore. I asked the Small One if he found the poem disturbing and he said no because he’s seen the Eldest playing Grand Theft Auto. Then he asked if we could burn an effigy of Justin Bieber on the bonfire instead of Guy Fawkes. Even though I thought it was a fair request, I reasoned that Justin Bieber had yet to attempt to overthrow a government. And anyway, it would upset the Middle One.
The Middle One doesn’t need any more drama in her life right now. Her best friend, Azalea, has just broken up with her boyfriend. They had been ‘going out’ for a year and a half. The Middle One is struggling to find sympathy for the breakdown of a relationship that consisted of a bimonthly meeting behind the IT block and the peak of which was a solitary chaperoned trip to the cinema to watch Finding Dory. I admire her mature outlook but I also want to ask Azalea how she kept the relationship magic alive for eighteen months. Some of my friends could use the advice. Even if it is from a twelve year old. I try to reassure the Middle One as best I can that the heartbreak shouldn’t last too long. She isn’t sure. She can see from Azalea’s Spotify playlists that she has been listening to nothing but sad songs for the past five days. I suggest to the Middle One that she collates something upbeat and sends it over to Azalea but she gives me a crushing look, which suggests that I don’t know how Spotify works. She’s right. I don’t.
American Mom, meanwhile, is convinced that the Eldest has started smoking. She doesn’t believe me when I tell her that smoking isn’t cool for teenagers these days. If I were her, I’d be more worried about him getting into hacking and being arrested from behind his laptop in his bedroom or sending ill-judged Snapchats on his smartphone. The Eldest eventually caves and admits that he did try one cigarette. But only to prove to Achilles (a boy in his year, not some abstract argument with a mythical Greek warrior) that it wasn’t a big deal and it genuinely isn’t cool. It’s a bold excuse but American Mom accepts it. It’s a novel situation for us both to be right about something.