“You are the most obnoxious person in the world,” yelled daughter one. “I hate you, you are so mean, aaaaaaaaaaaaagh,” yelled back daughter two. My children tend to accuse me of ‘filtering’, which means not lending total consciousness to every last thing they say, mainly because they are all talking at the same time and only son is bouncing up and down saying he needs a poo imminently at the same time. I had had a vague awareness that daughter two had gone into her sister’s room, which is never a good move, and that they were having a brief discussion. Daughter one has spent the whole week listening to David Bowie music and watching his films. She said “thank you, David” to every glorious sunset last week on the way home from school. Although she is not of his era, daughter one feels the world has somehow become an even worse place without David Bowie. It is fair to say she is feeling a little bit fragile.
Within five minutes or less the discussion with her sister had escalated to full blown warfare. The two emerged into the room I was in and daughter one seemed to be attempting to kick daughter two, while daughter two was intent on launching a full frontal death lunge at daughter one. “She yanked my hair,” yelled daughter two. “She is soooo annoying,” screamed daughter one. “Why does she exist?”
They were getting perilously close to the kitchen wherein lie knives. I threw myself into the fray. “Upstairs NOW,” I shouted to daughter two. Daughter two’s temper erupts like a volcano and I have been counselling her on anger management strategy ie going into another room, punching a teddy bear and counting to 10. My theory is that by then her temper will have subsided and she will not have done any physical harm to anyone, bar the teddy. Apologies to teddy bears everywhere. Daughter one tends to stomp off, lock herself in the bathroom [never a good move with six people in the family] and sob. She feels that she is a horrible person after such flare-ups so a different tactic is required. “She always comes in my room and takes stuff,” she said. “She thinks she can take everything I own.”
Daughter two thinks daughter one is the epitome of style. “On non-school uniform day, everyone is waiting to see what she’s wearing, mum,” she says in semi-awe. Non-school uniform day is a big deal in our house. Daughter one has always been one step ahead of the game in the fashion stakes. In nursery she introduced wearing socks over tights. Her whole group of friends were in socks with tights by the end of the year.
However, daughter one hates that daughter two sees her as the epitome of style. She feels daughter two is trying to be her. “She soooo wants to be me,” she says scornfully. The argument that had preceded the latest screaming fit was seemingly over a request by daughter two to have a Smint. Daughter one had said no and daughter two had asked if she could borrow an item of clothing.
Daughter two refused to go upstairs. Daughter one looked at me. “Why didn’t you stop her earlier?” she shouted. “It’s all your fault. You’re always filtering.” Huh??? Only son threw his arms around my neck. “I love you, mum,” he whispered. “You’re my best one. Don’t tell anyone.” [I suspect he says this to everyone…]
I appealed to the jury – daughter three. She shrugged her shoulders. She has learnt from years of experience that it is never a good idea to get involved in a daughter one/daughter two dispute. She returned to researching how to make lipstick from wax crayons.
Within a few minutes, daughter one had returned to her room and was playing a bit of Ringo [in anticipation that it is only a matter of time until he too is no more and her whole world will collapse] and daughter two had disappeared upstairs to change her room round yet again. It turned out she didn’t even want a Smint. I now know how the teddy bears feel.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.