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I’m entering a marathon work week and I’m not sure if I have done enough training to get to the end. I’m working on a two-week long festival which means being out most nights and also a large part of the weekend. It coincides with a busy period in my other job and, of course, half term. Oh joy.
So the theory was that the weekend before the marathon I would rest up and collect my thoughts. But children don’t want to rest up over the weekend. “What are we doing this weekend?” said all and sundry on Friday night when I was drifting off into semi-consciousness watching Gogglebox. “Absolutely nothing,” I could hear my partner saying. It is never, in my experience, a good idea to leave a total vacuum where children are concerned. By Saturday morning, daughter three had already drawn up a detailed plan of action.
Daughter one was backing her up, although in a slightly grumpy fashion because she had been woken up early by only son shouting enthusiastically about his newest dance routine. She now has to wear her own clothes to school every day because she is in the lower sixth and the pressure is beginning to take its toll. “I need to go to some charity shops,” she said. “I was down to wearing my black top last week and people commented.” Apparently it was a “peak” experience, which I thought would be good since peaks are the top, but it is actually very, very bad. Worst of all is if it is “bare peak”. This conjures up images of Paddington climbing Everest for me, but I am told it is the summit of negativity.
I looked it all up the other day and became even more confused because ‘peak’ seems to represent both very good things and very bad things. It seems, like so many things [Snapchat comes to mind], designed to derail parents. I totally understand the desire to keep stuff secret, but, as a journalist, it is bare frustrating. Still, it allows me to hone my investigative skills. The teen need for secrecy has spread across the family, though. Only son came into our room on Sunday morning and swore undying love to his mother about 20 times. “Don’t you love Dad?” came a voice from the other side of the bed. “I do love you, but it’s a secret,” said only son.
Anyway, the pressure was building on Saturday to do something. Doing nothing can often be the most stressful option because other people take over. Daughter two had already dragged a shelf upstairs the night before and painted it white. She loomed, worryingly, with a set of oil paints. Only son looked up excitedly…
So I bit the bullet and said I would take people out to charity shops. Except daughter two refused to come because the place where the charity shops are is way too close to her school and People Might See Her. So she and only son and my partner voted to stay home. Daughter three got some sort of orange bath bomb – part of her ongoing Halloween celebrations – and daughter one got a record and said she would raid my wardrobe. We returned home where the bath bomb was greeted with great enthusiasm by only son who wanted a bath immediately. Several hours later after much loss of water from bathroom antics [sliding down the side and splashing into the bath] he emerged slightly smelling of pumpkin.
By this point the teens and pre-teen had taken over the downstairs and were having a bit of a party with the music channels. My partner and I withdrew into the kitchen. “Feeling ready for the week ahead?” asked my partner. Hmmm.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.