Keeping awake for the teenagers

Sleep in


Today’s Santa Sack presents: for my partner, courtesy of daughter three, a useful book of hot pot recipes; for me, courtesy of only son, an old felt-tip pen with a xmas decoration sellotaped to the bottom. “The pen wasn’t working so I coloured in the top and every time it runs out I will colour it in for you,” said only son earnestly. It goes with yesterday’s present of one of my old biros with a feather sellotaped to it. Only son has been very, very busy being creative and has wrapped all the presents himself.

The other day he decided to create an advent calendar before school. He was sellotaped all the windows on when I had to drag him away to school, such is his Christmas fervour. He has also been learning how to sew and announced very excitedly that he had smuggled out two small pieces of the sewing material with holes in it so we could sew a house together. He has lined up a project for the new year which is for me to teach him how to knit. I’ve been researching blunt needles on eBay because I can hear my mum’s stress levels rising all the way from Argentina where she is holed up with my brother.

In the meantime, it’s been another weekend of driving people around. Daughter one is 17 this week and had a whole weekend of celebrating lined up. She had chosen to meet up with friends in the furthest point of London from our house on Saturday night. She was going to a “vegan junk food cafe”. “Have you checked if you can book?” I asked around Monday. Answer came there none. I took this as a negative. “How many people are going? It is the weekend before Christmas. You might want to book.” Still nothing. After days of repeating said question, I caved and booked the table myself. Mainly for selfish reasons, it has to be said. If they got there and couldn’t get in, they would then have to spend hours trying to find some other sort of similar cafe and I’m not sure how many vegan junk food cafes exist. That would mean she might not get home till after midnight and, given that I had spent Friday night picking up daughter three, there was a big chance that I or my partner who is only barely managing to make it to Friday would not be awake enough to drive to the station to get her.

As it was I was glued to my phone most of the evening. The only problem is that it only has intermittent service in certain parts of the house so I had to keep running upstairs and holding it in the air to get a bar. “I’m here”, it said at 6.30pm. “Just watching a band,” said my phone at around 9pm. “Third band just about to come on,” it stated at 10.15. Hmm. It could take her an hour and a half or more to get back and I could see my partner’s eyelids drooping. We are going to have to get in training, take cat naps and do shifts once daughter two starts going out. “Can I stay over at X’s house as she lives nearer?” said my phone at 11pm. “See you tomorrow.”

I am not sure I am going to survive the next few years. For one, there is the staying awake element [made more complicated due to only son getting up at the crack of dawn to declare his undying love]; for two, there is the constant feeling that something bad is going to happen to the teenagers. “Don’t worry, mum. I’m never going out,” said daughter two the other day. She is going through a hermit stage, but I feel it is unlikely to last. Given her dramatic, unpredictable tendencies, she is in fact the one I’m most worried about.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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