Getting teens fit for the autumn

Running up the stairs


“So what are we doing today?” asked daughter two at around 6.30pm. I don’t know about her, but my day was just drawing to a nice close. The teens have been milking the whole jet lag thing for the last couple of weeks. Breakfast has morphed into brunner – breakfast, lunch and dinner combined. I have ventured that it is not jet lag that is to blame, but the fact they are up until the small hours watching films and learning Swedish and the like.

The other day I announced that the week would be devoted to Getting Fit for the Autumn. “Suggest your favoured activity,” I proposed. Two people nominated yoga, based on the fact they think it involves lying around. One volunteered “meditation”. “It’s exercising the mind, mum,” said daughter two. Only son, of course, proposed swimming at which everyone else turned their noses up.

Although it was 6.30pm daughter two suggested going out. In the past I have taken the kids out because getting out can make everything slightly less intense and, when asked where we were going, I have said “on an adventure”. Daughter two wanted to go on an adventure. Since we live in complete darkness in a small village, we got in the car and drove around until we alighted on a nearby high street and a KFC. Daughter two refused to get out. “I just came for the ride and to listen to One Direction,” she said. Daughter two is going through a period of nostalgia for the 1D days – simpler days before the world imploded. Daughter three decided she wanted a KFC. There was a job ad in the window. Daughter one is looking for a job. She is also a committed vegan. “At least I wouldn’t have to eat it,” she said.

We returned home to the strains of 1D. Only son was sitting with the kittens, who were slightly less enthusiastic about this than he was. We heard a noise upstairs. Daughter three rushed up and shouted: “The cat has come in your window with a bird in its mouth, mum.”

It turned out that the cat had rushed into daughter two’s room and was sitting under the bed with a dead sparrow in her mouth. “She wants to gain your respect,” I told daughter two. Daughter two is not only a committed vegan, but a militant one. She looked on the cat with disgust. The cat had perhaps chosen the worst person on whom to bequeath its feathered gift.

Twenty minutes later, the cat was out of the room, the mattress had been overturned, the assembled George Harrison photos that adorn daughter two’s walls, looking on, and the dead bird removed. Something told me it was not quite the adventure daughter two had planned for the evening.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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