Sibling rivalry for old people

Arguing Children


It’s back to work for the parents among us – and daughter one. The rest are still in holiday mode. New Year’s Eve was supposed to be some kind of party. We had friends round, including an old friend from France. My partner arrived back from Spain around 5pm. The house was looking reasonable, considering. Daughter two and I had cleaned it while the other members of the family provided commentary. Daughter three did some cooking [but not the washing up]. We were primed. The only problem was that the friend from France arrived with some sort of flu-ish bug. My partner was still coughing from before Christmas and was slightly sleep deprived due to a combination of coughing and going out till late in Spain.

Daughter one cancelled going to a friend’s party due to some sort of gastric bug. Remarkably, given previous years, I was one of the few people left standing and not subsiding into the fruits of the forest strudel – and I’d done nearly a week alone with four kids which is equivalent to a gastric bug and flu combined times fifty. Just waking up in the morning with only son in the same bed is equivalent to trying to wrestle a cyclone or at the very least to 20 minutes of maximum aerobic sport.

I’m crediting working from home for my new found healthy Christmas. And maybe, just maybe, my health quiz estimations of simply having four kids being equivalent to half an hour’s sustained exercise every day and an hour on Thursday was an underestimate.

The expected political confrontations at New Year’s Eve did not occur, mainly because no-one had the energy, although I did have a short call to my brother who basically blamed George Michael – and no doubt, his sister and perhaps teenage girls in general – for the rise of neoliberalism and the current state of affairs. This is presumably because Wham! stopped teenage girls from becoming activists and made them all into superficial shopaholics unable to distinguish between Margaret Thatcher and the latest fashion craze whereas listening to Sisters of Mercy made my brother take to the streets in protest at the inequity of the prevailing system.

It is odd that however old you get you remain entrenched in the arguments of your teenage years. Daughter one, while wisely refusing to be drawn into sibling arguments, but knowing who she needs to keep on side more, merely commented that she would be quite sad if anything happened to Harry Styles even if she is currently listening to David Bowie and Lou Reed and reading the Marquis de Sade and Dostoevsky.

It is interesting how we are all seeking to find someone or something to blame for where we are now – globalisation, hypercapitalism, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher…George Michael –  rather than focusing on what we do now. Imagine politics as one big sibling fight with everyone blaming everyone else for escalating things and demanding to get their own way and not taking any responsibility or listening to the other person’s point of view. It doesn’t appear a very good recipe for peace. Hopefully, the adults present will intervene. You just gotta have faith.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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