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It’s been one of those weeks where pick-ups have turned into logistical conundrums. On Tuesday – Halloween, if you will – only son had football, something he is getting increasingly into despite loathing the sport just six months ago. That means I can pick up the secondary school people at school closing time rather than half an hour later as per usual, a minor detail that causes endless moaning even though they take around 15 minutes to get out of the school in any event.
I pulled up to the agreed pick-up spot slightly late and no-one was to be seen. I realised I had forgotten my phone. Crucial error. Daughters one and two soon loomed into view. Where was daughter three? We waited and waited. Daughter three had rung earlier to say that she was wanted to go trick or treating with her friends after doing it with her brother. Daughter three tends not to request things. She merely states what she will do, hangs up and puts her phone on airplane mode. This is fairly annoying. Had she gone to her friend’s house with the big driveway? We toured the local village, looking for sightings. Daughter two’s phone had no credit. Daughter one rang daughter three in typical lethargic mode and left a caustic message. I arrived at the driveway and rang the buzzer. No daughter three. Where was she? Daughter one rang home where my mum was. “Can you check mum’s phone? The access code is really, really hard. It’s 1,2, 3, 4,” announced daughter one. There were no missed calls from daughter three.
I had five minutes to find her before heading back to get only son. I envisaged her wandering around in the dark with no idea where we were. Daughter three rang. She was outside the newsagents and had forgotten about the early pick-up time. Her sisters took the mickey, as is their wont. I was slightly on edge so said it was unlikely I would drive her back for the second round of trick or treating. She was free to cast herself on the mercy of her father…
Daughter three slumped into a pit of injustice in the back of the car and refused to speak until around 6pm. We picked up only son and went home to get ready for Halloween. Only son was an enthusiastic grim reaper. I’m not sure he is totally aware of what a grim reaper is. He only knows it from Minecraft or some such where it looks kind of hallucinogenic. He decided he wanted to have his dinner first so as not to fill up with sweets. Only son is studying healthy eating and bones.
I relented and told daughter three I’d take her trick or treating. However, I did not know the timetable. So by the time only son had had his dinner it was too late to do both trick or treating locally and take daughter three to her friend’s. Daughter three shut herself in her room, glowering – which seemed very appropriate for Halloween. She refused to dress up at all. Meanwhile, I transformed myself into a zombie [not much make-up was required], my mum had made a devil mask and we headed out. Only son knocked on one door and a toddler appeared in a skeleton costume. “Good rib cage,” remarked only son, showing off his scientific prowess.
By Thursday things had got more complicated. Daughter three had announced at 9.30pm the night before that she had cookery and needed tortilla bread, a lime, parsley [fresh] and a pepper. I managed to scrounge some of the ingredients together and make some tortilla bread in the morning, which I was very proud of. Daughter one had an important parents evening, but she had also managed to accrue a “compulsory time” [otherwise known as detention] for not signing in, something she disputes. That meant we would have to hang around for her and then go back later to parents evening. I decided to take everyone to parents evening early in order to avoid spending all night driving around. How bad could it be? Daughters two and three protested strongly. I envisaged only son taking daughter one’s teachers to task or announcing his skills at spelling and punctuation and his views on exo-skeletons while I was trying to get to grips with daughter one’s IB syllabus. Daughter one had also booked a driving lesson, but had conveniently forgotten when. Eventually my partner agreed to come home early to babysit. Somewhere in the middle of all this activity and logistics, I fear I have lost myself entirely.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.