Are you peng or a snack?

Chocolate cupcakes

Picture credit: Wikipedia.

I’ve got a terrible cold and even only son doesn’t want to be near me. “If you could just read the book to me from the chair over there, mum,” he pleaded as I sneezed my way through Jacqueline Wilson’s Whale Song. Only son won’t read Whale Song himself and refuses to put it in his book bag in case people think it is a “girl” book despite the fact that he is totally hooked on it. “You see, girls can be people too,” I say. “Just like you.” He gets it, but the pressure at school to wear blue and be “boyish” is immense. That’s why he has, sadly, given up dancing, though he does Just Dance at home very energetically. Maybe one day he will feel the confidence to confront the ‘boy’ tyranny.

Until then, to his dad’s chagrin, he has swapped the Barcelona football shirt for Chelsea for football practice because it is blue and blue is for boys. It’s not all about the blue though – he likes the whole style of it. He is very particular about fashion and still goes out in leggings with shorts on top – a trend which has never quite caught on.

I guess part of the boy thing is asserting his individuality over his sisters who are all quite forceful characters and strongly against traditional stereotypes.

“This boy asked me if he looked like a snack today, mum,” said daughter three the other day. “What kind of snack?” I asked, envisaging a penguin biscuit. Apparently snack is code for peng. I’m up with all things pengish, courtesy of daughter one. Marlon Brando [early days] is peng. George Harrison is [spiritually] peng. Harry Styles is – still – peng due to nostalgia reasons. Daughter three said she had informed the boy that he was no snack. She’s gathering confidence after having her entire body subjected to daily criticism last year. She’s moved on from an interest in fashion too. She wants to be a lawyer.

She was sitting in bed in a bit of a strop as I sneezed away, protesting at not being allowed to stay up for the final of The Circle. Daughter two, who is germ phobic, had already barricaded herself in her room.

My colds tend to go from 0 to 100 in the space of seconds so, having been fine till about 3.11pm I arrived on the first stage of the school run in full blown cold meltdown. And it was only Monday. I always get a cold around this time of year, generally as a result of overwork due to my different jobs going into overdrive at the same time. The joys of ‘portfolio working’.

Daughter one offered to make me a hot chocolate when I returned. Practice for her new barista job.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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