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The week was all going so well until Tuesday. Daughter one decided she was going to north London, but had miscalculated timings. “My friend says it is five minutes on the overland train from east London,” she said breezily as we left the house, inevitably several minutes late already. “I think your friend may be a little optimistic,” I said. Daughter one is not well acquainted with the train system in London. Nothing takes five minutes. “It’ll be more like an hour. Text me when you’re there,” I said.
As I left the station, I got a message. “Can you come and get me in 10 minutes?” It was daughter two. She was at sports day somewhere in deepest Essex. “Where are you?” I replied and headed home because my phone has intermittent reception in most of the area around our house. I rang her from the landline. She didn’t pick up. It takes at least 20 minutes to get to her school. Primary school was finishing in 40 minutes. I headed out and texted her en route when I hit a spot where my phone actually worked. “On my way.” “I will text you when I get to school,” wrote daughter two. What? Was she not at school? Perhaps she was still at the sports ground miles away in deepest Essex. “Where are you?” I texted. “I have to be at primary school in half an hour.” Five minutes passed. “Walking to school,” flashed on my mobile. From deepest Essex? I arrived at the school and, five minutes later, daughter two appeared. She had gone to the station with her friend.
We arrived, slightly breathlessly, at primary school. I got a text from the school – the extra ticket I had requested for daughter three’s performance in Bugsy Malone that night was available. That meant daughter one could go. Except, of course, daughter one was in north London, possibly still en route, and very unlikely to be back in time for Bugsy Malone. I could rearrange for daughter three’s gran to come on Tuesday instead of to the Wednesday night performance. Simples. Except, of course, I couldn’t ring from the school because my phone doesn’t work in the school area.
I picked up only son and asked if I could pay for the ticket later when I knew if I could get my mum to attend. Daughter three loomed with one of her friends. “Can I go round to her house?” she asked. I was slightly stressed and the thought of further drop-offs and pick-ups was straining my brain. “Definitely not,” I think I said. “My life is already complicated enough.”
We headed home. Daughter three asked if she could go to the corner shop and get a lolly for her and her brother before getting ready for Bugsy Malone. I had a fiver, but needed money for the extra ticket. She managed to get some sort of bargain on the lollies. I rang my mum. She could come. Hurray. Daughter one texted to say she had arrived late at her destination and would be back at some point. I told her to cc her dad whose phone works fine in all locations.
It had been my mum’s birthday the week before, but she had been away so we had her presents ready. Only son did some sort of scavenger hunt where my mum had to run round and round a blanket and all the presents were hidden under it. We headed for Bugsy Malone. Daughter three gave a sterling performance as around seven characters, several of whom met dramatic deaths. The audience got covered in silly string.
Daughter one came home late and just as she was going to bed daughter three announced that the next day was a water fight at school and she needed balloons. We had no balloons. There are no balloon shops en route to school. I had around 43p left.
I got an email from secondary school saying a Spanish textbook had not been returned and could I pay £17.99 for it. It was the second such request I’d had. The week before’s was about a Chinese textbook which daughter one had given in. Daughter one swore she had given it in. I wrote back a firm response that daughter one had given in said textbook and that therefore I would not be paying £17.99 any time soon. Yours sincerely. Daughter two appeared. She said she had a Spanish textbook which she had not yet handed in. I wrote another email, apologising for the first one.
I went to bed around 11pm after catching up on work. But I couldn’t sleep. I was up until 2.30 with what may have been food poisoning. Fortunately, this enabled me to get ahead on work for the next day. Silver linings.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.