There is nothing like a sibling row to start the week and I fear I have not handled this particular one in the best way. It all centres around bags. One bag in particular. A small black, much coveted, Nike bag. It is a bit of a family heirloom, having been passed down the line from daughter one. It is now with daughter three who uses it for PE. However, only son has developed a bit of a thing for it and has borrowed it on occasion because he believes it makes him look cool.

Normally daughter three only needs it on the days she does PE. However, on Monday she left her normal bag, which is a bit worn down, in someone’s locker and only brought the PE bag home. Only son snaffled it and filled it to the brim with Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. “I am taking them in to show x,” he said. X is one of the oldest boys in the class and therefore someone who needs to be impressed if you are one of the youngest boys in the class, as only son is. In addition only son packed his new pen [with his name sellotaped on it] and his pen licence which he got given by his teacher for great penmanship. He has put it in a special drawstring bag so he doesn’t lose it. We had a pen ceremony to celebrate.

Daughter three objected very vociferously to the use of her PE bag by only son and remarked that the substitute bag I suggested [mine] was deeply uncool and that these things really matter when you are 12. There followed a short speech by me about selflessness which does not tend to go down well with the teen/pre-teen age group. “It’s my bag and he’s not having it,” said daughter three. So I hid it in my room overnight, mainly because this all happened at around 9pm and only son was threatening to stay up all night in protest.

The following day I needed to get only son to breakfast club as I had, oh joy, a smear test first thing. I kept the Nike bag out of the picture until the last minute, but daughter three spotted it and all hell broke loose. “Empty the bag NOW,” ordered daughter three. Only son is fairly feisty, as the youngest of four children should be. “No way!” he responded. Time was ticking. I envisaged having to take only son to the smear test, something which could scar him for life and would not help much when the nurse inevitably told me to try harder to relax. I decided to just make a run for it with the bag and deal with the fallout later – “he’s your favourite”, “you basically said I was selfish”, “you essentially hate me”. I have already been in talks with daughter two, whose bedroom functions as an art workshop, about getting a cheap black bag from a charity shop and painting a Nike tick on it…

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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