The house is full once more. Beloved firstborn is home for the summer*, merci beaucoup enfant deux finished her exams and is back at school after exam leave, and I finished all the laundry and stacked away all the uni-rooms-supplies-and-goods that were dispatched with beloved firstborn in October, but must now be assimilated into the family home. Merci beaucoup enfant deux has few needs, just a really profane credit rating on her moby and a fleet of servants to pick up everything that drops from her hands (and therefore her consciousness), on a daily basis. Ahh the joys of a house full with beloved teenagers.
Once more the house resounds with planet rock, shouts and laughter. The house phone doesn't stop ringing, and suddenly I'm the resident telephonist aurally re-acquainted with all the big tall lads who went through school with beloved firstborn. I can't wait for the first weekend house party of all his mates. I'm preparing the fatted calf for slaughter... that should take care of breakfast, then. Of course merci beacoup enfant deux plans her social events diary with military precision worthy of a Stalingrad sniper; carefully guarding admission to the family home to selected chums who have earned access to her adored brother.
And I remember the halls' caretaker to whom I returned his uni keys at the weekend; beloved firstborn far too busy working to do this himself. I thanked the man, and said how this handover marked the end of my only son's first year at uni. "Has he enjoyed his year?" he asked. "Oh yes," I replied, "He's grown up and had a wonderful year. And thank you for keeping an eye on him." And those few simple words held the gratitude of a mother. The world is surely populated by good and wonderful people taking care of others to whom they owe no genetic debt.
* Note how already I have accepted that the "family home" is merely the temporary stop-gap-palace-of-luxury between his "own" home at uni... I'm rather pleased I've successfully negotiated this HUGE transition.