I retreated, only to be told that daughter one had also commented on said eyebrows to the effect that they looked like slugs. “She’s been colouring them in,” said daughter one. “It’s a big thing for 13 year olds.” This kind of comment does not go down well with daughter two who is trying to compete with daughter one in the style stakes. Daughter one’s style is quirky, charity shop, student geek. Daughter two’s look is more influenced by the smooth, uncluttered home furnishing catalogues she loves. She spends her life rearranging and decorating her room. “I’m going to make a table out of my wardrobe door and some tree stumps,” she said the other day. “Can we stop in the forest and get a tree stump?”
Daughter two is in an experimentational stage with her looks. Fortunately, she has desisted from covering her eyelashes in olive oil every night – “it makes them grow” she told me even though she could hardly open her eyes at the time as they were gunged together. She has an elaborate “cleansing” routine which she follows before bed. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that all this is going to be to no effect when her hormones kick in and spots surface on her smooth and perfect face. She is already horrified by the mere thought of periods, mainly because daughter one makes a big to-do about it and uses it as an excuse to force me to buy her chocolate.
Daughter one is similarly horrified by the idea of childbirth, even more so after watching a programme about the delivery of the placenta. “It’s not just the baby, you mean?” she said. “I am never doing that.” She asked me how it felt to deliver the placenta. In all honesty I have absolutely no idea. I was in such shock after delivering most of the kids that the delivery of the placenta passed me by. “It’s absolutely fine,” I said to daughter one who I had by emergency caesarean. “I was completely unconscious when you were born and didn’t feel a thing.” I decided it was not wise at this point to mention the several weeks of recovery after the operation, including infected stitches and the pre-birth bit where I felt I was going to die, not helped by my brother – who had taken me to the hospital – singing Robbie Williams into my ear which he thought would calm me down. “You were so worth it,” I said.
Daughter three has also been experimenting, but mainly with food. She’s finding all sorts of creative ways to get round the fact we currently have no oven because a new knob is apparently coming from Mars and will not be here till April. She found a recipe for making a pizza in a cup the other day. Who knew that this was an option? Only son has caught her enthusiasm and is asking for nutella cakes in a mug to make him feel better – he has had a bit of a week of cold, though rallied for the school trip to a toy museum. “How did it go?” I asked. “I don’t remember anything,” he said just 10 minutes after getting off the bus. That was £8 well spent.