If you don’t believe me, just ask Sonny about their Taekwondo lesson a few months ago when he sparred with his brother for the first time. I’m reluctant to call it a grudge match given only Luca knows what that grudge was, but it was clearly a HUGE one that he’d held for a long, LONG time.
It was supposed to be non-contact!? To be fair, it’s impossible to tell whether any contact was made such was the flurry of punches and kicks that rained down on poor Sonny. It was like a Jackie Chan movie; on fast forward. Caption it and between the Kapow’s and Kaboom’s it would read ‘this is for the time you did this … and stole that … and mocked this … and said that …’ It was genuinely terrifying. Luca walked away two foot taller. Sonny, a broken man.
Or take yesterday as another example. Sonny got up from the sofa and headed to the kitchen. Without looking up from his screen, Luca stretched out a leg and sent him tumbling.
Me: “LUCA! What did you do that for?”
Luca: “Sonny started it”
Luca: “He threw my teddy down the stairs”
The teddy incident was five days ago. FIVE! I’d dealt with that at the time, or so I thought. Sonny had retrieved the teddy, apologised, and they’d been the best of friends ever since. Little did I know he’d spent nigh on a week plotting his retribution.
It’s like living in The Godfather Part Three having not seen parts one and two. A life spent looking over your shoulder because you can never be quite sure just how many grudges are outstanding at any given time, less still what the reprisals might be.
But that’s not to say you can’t try and keep some sort of tally. Recently I’ve discovered it is possible to register the precise moment a grudge gets lodged; if you pay close attention. It’s in the eyes, or more accurately the raised brow. There’s a pursing of the lips that you could easily mistake for a twitch. Listen carefully, very carefully, and you’ll hear the faintest of snorts.
Now, if I assume the Taekwondo incident marked a clean slate, which given the onslaught it absolutely should, then by my reckoning there are currently two grudges still outstanding.
There were three until the other night.
For that one you need to go back a few weeks to when Sonny tried to give Luca a scare by jumping out from behind a wheelie bin on our way to school. As scares go it was rubbish. Rubbish to the point of barely registering as an anecdote had it not been for the reaction. Luca was unmoved, but for the eyebrow and lips. Then, as he turned to walk away, he served notice with the most nonchalant of snorts. This wasn’t over. Far from it. All we could do was wait.
That’s not strictly true, what I could do, and did, was declare a state of emergency. There was to be no scares near a busy road. No scares when I wasn’t around to pick up the pieces. And knowing Luca’s as I do, absolutely no scares around bedtime.
And so we waited. And waited. And waited.
Hours became days, days became weeks. Opportunities came and went.
Had he forgotten? Had he learnt to forgive? Had we mistaken a sniff for a snort?
He could have gone like for like with a school run scare, but that would be too obvious. An old school ‘BOO’, too amateurish. Using the bedtime scare curfew as cover, of course! Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing.
First he waited for the football to kick-off, thus limiting the likelihood of any meaningful intervention on my part. Then he told Sonny he was going for a poo, stomping round the bathroom and slamming the door for maximum effect. What he’d actually done was sneak back into their bedroom and climbed inside one of Janet’s dresses that was hanging off their door. Not behind, not beneath, INSIDE!
Unaware, Sonny walked into the bedroom. Nothing. He climbed into bed. Nothing. He snuggled into his teddies and got comfy ….
From behind the door FLOATED a wailing ghost. And not your bog standard Scooby Doo, rip off his mask to reveal the janitor kind of ghost, oh no, this was a ghost without a head or limbs!?
Sonny screamed. I screamed. I raced upstairs to find Luca still wearing the dress (and wearing it really well to be fair), dancing on his bed like it was the lead float at a Mardi Gras parade.
Six times Sonny woke up with nightmares that night. Six. Luca slept like a log. And I watched an entire England game from the top of the stairs, every light in the house turned on, reassuring Sonny there was no such thing as a ghost more often than an English player misplaced a pass.
And what of the other two grudges still to be resolved. Well, one was a playground spat for which I take no responsibility as it falls outside my remit. All I can do with that one is await the inevitable bump note Sonny brings home from school. The other grudge however is very worrying, not least because it’s a grudge held against me.
You see, a few days ago Luca mistook a scotch bonnet chili for a cherry. For the briefest moment, and honestly, it was really brief, I contemplated letting him take a bite before my parental responsibility kicked in,
Me: “Don’t eat that, it’s a chili!”
Luca: “You were going to let me eat that!”
Me: “I wasn’t. Do you really think I’d let you eat a chili?”
Sonny: “He was Luca”
Me: “Don’t listen to him, I wasn’t, I never…”
Brow, lips, snort. Damn it!
So now it’s me keeping the landing light on. It’s me checking behind the door when I go to bed. And it’s me who’s tentatively pulling back my covers every night for fear I’ll find a horses head on my pillow.
Because it’s not a case of if he’ll strike, but when. And if history has taught me anything, it’s that he’s not afraid to wait. And wait. And wait.