"J, bend your knees as you walk down the stairs."
"Bend your knees. Like this. You don't have to keep your leg straight. It's actually quite dangerous."
"It's not. I hold on. See?"
And now I'm treated to a visual representation of Mr J walking downstairs. His left hand grips the wooden stair rail, his right hand keeps a tenuous hold on the wall, and he swings himself down the stairs like a stiff-legged monkey, knees barely bending.
I'm not sure if he has joint issues, or if he is just practising an unusually creative way of getting around. I'm remembering my consternation over watching him throw his entire body at a kitchen cupboard door and then fling it open with a determined expression on his face, as if he's trying to tear it from the hinges. All of this, just to take a cup from the cupboard. I watch, and can't remember if the older two did this, and it's an age thing, or if it is an entirely new phenomenon: a Mr J thing.
We have other conversations, too.
"J, why are the pyjamas I asked you to put away for tonight lying inside the stuffed animal basket?"
"The pyjamas you wore to bed last night."
"Why are the pyjamas I asked you to put away for tonight lying inside the stuffed animal basket?"
"I don't know."
"I don't know how they got there."
I am in no doubt that he's telling the truth. He was reading aloud a simple passage from a history book and suddenly stopped in the middle of it and wailed, "I can't remember what I was just reading about! I can't remember it!"
I brought water to him. He drank it and laughed. "I just needed some water. My brain was drying up."
If only we all had that magical reaction to water. And if only water worked for him all the time.
"I can't remember where I left my -------" is the most-heard J phrase around our house. Fill in the blank with just about anything: snack, backpack, sword, Tintin figure, pencil case, paper, water. Fortunately, the rest of the household are used to this. Older brothers and younger sister run to look for the missing item as Mr J's floppy body crumples onto the nearest sofa in despair after one meagre glance has failed to locate the missing item immediately.
Lefty and Righty's greatest worry at the moment is Mr J on the trampoline, with Coo.
They watch them tenaciously. Coo is normally laughing her head off, bouncing dangerously close to the edge, completely not bothered by the fact that her two oldest brothers are having minor heart attacks at the sight.
When Mr J is seated at the table drawing, or tucked up into his bed reading, we all relax. His body is relatively still and calm, joints at rest. He read Little Pilgrim's Progress with Dan and was utterly fascinated by it. He drew maps for Dan and me, to guide us to the Celestial City. He spent entire quiet times daydreaming on his bed about his own journey to the Celestial City. He planned out his suit of armour, what it would look like and what he needed to accomplish the correct pilgrim outfit. He told me: "Mum, when I'm nineteen, I'm going to the Celestial City."
Then that fad faded suddenly and Tintin took its place again. Mr J now needs a very particular set of clothing --he was telling me all about it earlier-- to pull off the appearance of Captain Haddock, and some empty bottles for whiskey.
And so we go, from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the sweetly spiritual to the painfully politically incorrect.