Non-stop questions

I have been doing an in-depth study over the weekend. It seems that only son asks around a million questions a day and is only quiet for around 3% of his waking hours. Here is a one-minute snatch which provides the general gist: “Look at the worm woman, mum. She looks really cool. Don’t you think?” “Can we go and get another Percy Jackson DVD because our one is scratched?” “I’ve done a great job [putting sofa cushions all over the floor] to stop our feet getting cold. What do you think?” “I don’t think I’d like to live in a sewer [pronounced ‘swer’] like the Ninja Turtles, mum. Would you?” “Swer is a difficult word to say, isn’t it, mum?” “I can keep still for five seconds, mum. I’m just going to count. One, two, three, four, five. See.”

At the same time as he says this he is generally bouncing. Generally near an edge or a glass filled with some kind of liquid. The possibility of an accident is high and only son is very apologetic whenever said accident happens and wants to clean it up all by himself with all that that entails. Only son is generally extremely helpful. He is in training to be a super hero and is very sure that he does not want to be one of the bad guys like Shredder. Despite this, he keeps telling his sister – daughter two – that he is going to “smash you up”. This is possibly because he considers her to be the embodiment of all bad guys – super bad guy, if you will – given that she really enjoys winding him up.

A superhero has to start their training somewhere, after all, and why not start with the toughest challenge? And so it came to pass that daughter two and only son were writhing around the floor on Monday night while daughter three was looking up outdoor swimming pools and the like for half term [she is fighting a losing battle of trying to organise her family into something approaching order] and daughter one was watching Loik Nottet [the Belgian Eurovision entry] for the 1,230th time. It was pretty clear that things were not going to end well. Within seconds, only son was sobbing – “she tried to kill me”. Daughter two, who is queen of drama in our house, brandished a scratch on her wrist. “He tried to open my veins. I could have bled to death,” she said. “And no one would have cared,” she added with a flourish.

It had been a long day. We had been to Cambridge as daughter one has work experience there starting in June and doesn’t know the way from the station to the office where she is working. My intention was to get the bus, but, as per usual, I didn’t have any change so we walked. Daughter three was cold because she had optimistically gone for a summer outfit. Ditto only son who was in his red shorts with go faster stripes – go slower stripes might work better.

Within minutes only son claimed extreme hunger and started shouting very loudly about McDonald’s in the middle of an organic market. Daughter two, who is a bit of a health freak, refused point blank to go within 100 yards of a fast food restaurant. Daughter three just wanted to get warm. We decided to go and get a meal deal, but en route only son suddenly screamed. “McDonald’s!” He would know that M anywhere. The team divided – only son, daughter three and I headed for the M; daughters one and two and their dad went to Sainsbury’s.

After lunch, we wandered around the town. Daughter one wanted a bit of culture and a charity shop so headed off with my partner. I took the rest of the team to an archaeology museum, which was closed, but had a bench outside so daughter three could eat her 10 fruit and veg lunch. Daughter three and only son ran round and round a very picturesque square while I commented to daughter two on the number of eminent scientists – perhaps Charles Darwin himself – who may have sat on the bench, trying to inspire her intellectual curiosity, although this may be an uphill battle since her favourite reading material remains the Argos catalogue. Within seconds, only son shouted from the middle of the square – “I need a POO now.” I am sure Darwin would have appreciated the situation and only son does consider himself to be a semi [ninja] turtle…In time-honoured tradition, we made a swift exit.

Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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