“I HATE New Look. It is the worst place ever,” announced only son one second after we had stepped into the shop. It wasn’t looking promising. Having three daughters, two of them teenagers and one verging on the edge of teendom, and one five [nearly six] year old it is hard to keep everyone happy. Daughter three wanted to spend her birthday money. Only son has been in New Look before and knows that it is not a brief experience when his sisters are involved.
He had been given a balloon by someone when we entered the shopping centre and he proceeded to throw it in the air and chase it all over New Look in a perilous fashion while daughter three took a very long time considering the sales rack. I have taught my children well and they always head straight for the bargain section.
Daughters two and one had disappeared to one corner of the shop. Even they were flagging when I eventually tracked them down to tell them daughter three was going into the changing room. Only son super boosted his way round the changing room, crawled under daughter three’s curtain and generally played hide and seek until I gave in and handed him my phone.
We emerged from New Look – a happy daughter three, two starving teenagers, a bouncy five year old, no balloon [it had inevitably disappeared] and a somewhat edgy mother. It was lunchtime. Only there was nowhere to sit so we found a spot near what appeared to be the air conditioning system for the entire shopping centre.
I told daughters one and two to babysit only son while I got him some lunch and I gave him some crayons. I had visions of him super boosting all over the seating area. I got some money out. Having four children, I am permanently out of cash. I got daughter three a subway sandwich and gave the other two some money to get something vegetarian. Only son was having chicken nuggets, daughter two had a chicken tikka subway with salad [“you see, healthy, mum”] and daughters one and two got a collection of steamed vegetables and water.
During the meal we were variously blasted by icy air and daughter three and only son needed to be escorted to the toilet where only son decided to dunk his entire head in cold water requiring me to put him under the hand dryer.
After this pit-stop we headed for Primark, ostensibly to get only son some pirate trousers for school. He turned down any attempt to get him to look at trousers for 5-6 year olds, saying they were too big. He held up a pair of 2-3 year olds trousers to his hips, refusing to accept that there is a big difference between hips and waist. The other three members of the team had disappeared to another floor. What seemed like several hours later we located the girls and emerged with a pair of 5-6 year old black trousers.
It has to be admitted that this was a more successful trip than the previous one where I forgot to bring any money and we had to use a voucher at the bottom of my bag, but I was ready for a long lie-down afterwards. My partner texted later from Spain to say he had a hangover. I knew how he felt.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.