Progress evenings

So it’s been a bit chaotic recently. We are all on edge waiting to see what happens in Catalunya. My partner is going there this weekend. My mum has moved in while she waits to move house. Daughter one has been having migraines, work is in overdrive mode and generally things came to a head some time on Thursday.  I was chasing someone for a radio interview about bystander intervention in response to the awful Harvey Weinstein news when I went to do school pick-up. Only son’s school is in a no connection not spot or whatever you call it.

I ran to get him as I was, as usual, slightly late. He came out and I caught a glimpse of  the inside of his classroom. There is an ongoing Roman project and every week we have to contribute to it. This week we have made a shield and done a blog entry. Only son decided to paint two lions on the shield and do some zigzaggy patterns. It all looked very colourful, but the shields I saw in the classroom looked a little bit more professional. The shields looked like they were ready for battle. Only son’s wouldn’t survive a short rain shower. “We’re going to have to up our game,” I said to only son. “We need more tinfoil.”

He said he just wanted to go home and watch a film with me. Not just any film, but Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging because apparently the main characters reminded him of me and him. I’m not quite sure how to broach the issue of him not being able to marry me. I was thinking that he might grow out of it… Anyway, I got him to check my emails en route to the secondary school. In the middle of doing this daughter three rang. She had been at a Hindu temple all day. She had been very excited about it, though worried when daughter two, who has been before, told her the lunch consisted of goat’s cheese pea curry. Daughter three hates both cheese and peas. “I’m ringing on my friend’s phone cos I’ve got no battery. Can I go to the park?” Hmm. Daughter one had a driving lesson to be home for and I had to get this person onto the radio. I said to ring her dad and hung up. He could decide whether to pick her up on his way home.

I got to the school. Daughter two’s calendar said she had something mysterious called ‘progress evening’ that night. I have been trying to find out what this is for weeks, but daughter two has been stonewalling me. So I decided to take drastic measures and go into the school and ask. Apparently it is a session for only parents about “what the year ahead holds”. Daughter three also has one. “It’ll just be about how parents have to make their children work as hard as possible and never have any fun,” said daughters one and three. Having been to similar I decided I could probably give it a miss. Daughter three rang. She was in the park and wanted to stay there. She had not managed to get through to her dad. Could I ring him?

I am not sure what magic powers she thinks I possess, but if he is not picking up his phone to her, there is little chance he will pick it up for me. I told her I was coming to get her. She said she would refuse to leave. I drove over. There were no parking spaces in the road, but lots of signs saying you would get a 100 pound fine if you parked there. I rang daughter three and told her to get to the car asap or I would find her and severely embarrass her. She didn’t come so I found a space and ran to the park. I saw her in the distance and did a Mary Poppins dance for her friends, just so she would never ever think of doing similar again.

I got some petrol and cash for the driving lesson and pulled in to check my emails. Bingo. I’d tracked down the interviewee. She had taken down the number of the radio station wrongly. I emailed the radio station to tell them her number. Hi Waseem, I wrote. Predictive text converted it into Hi Waste Management and insisted on keeping it that way. Eventually I sent the message as lorries thundered past us and the interview went ahead, widening the debate on sexism  – and racism – and how you deal with them in any walk of life. Daughter three was in a sulk, refusing to say how the Hindu temple visit had gone. Daughters two and one were dissecting the comments of various teachers and laughing uproariously. Apparently daughter one has quietly joined the school newspaper as fashion editor and interviewer of teachers for something called Teacher Feature. There are some occasions in life when I would like to be a fly on the wall…

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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