Only son has been trying different tactics to get a day off school recently. Last week he complained of a sore tummy. “x had the day off for a sore head so I think a sore tummy is the same,” he argued rationally. By Friday he had moved on to more sophisticated tactics. “I’m not going to school,” he said. I asked why. “Because we have to do a lot of work all the time and the teachers don’t work at all. They just watch us working.”
Only son has a very strong sense of injustice and reckons, with three sisters, that he is constantly getting short-changed and that they are getting the better of him. “All my sisters have a phone AND a sim card,” he said, building up to his case of blatant anti-male discrimination.
The truth is that his sisters adore him and compete for his attention. “Who’s the best sister?” each asks at different times of the day. Daughter one had a long session of giving him some serious advice about screen time and Minecraft on Saturday night. To be honest, most of it went over his head. “You are a smart boy. You do not need this trash,” she said, tuning into the National Geographic Channel. “This will teach you important things about the world.” Unfortunately, the programme on National Geographic Channel was about killer hornets and slightly freaked only son out. It had not entered his head up to now that there could be such a thing as a giant killer wasp. Instead, I tried to encourage him to do his homework which is to write a poem about wildlife [but not killer hornets]. He had selected his wildlife already – a jaguar – and written some brief facts he wanted to mention in the poem. A jaguar is tough, fast and spotty. It likes to sleep and it wants to go to Canada. Daughter one has been researching places to live in Canada recently and generally bigging up Canada. She has investigated work permits for her parents and everything. Fortunately, jaguar and Canada rhyme so we soon had a great poem going. It ended with: “I hope you get to Canada, Spotty jag-jag-jaguar.”
Meanwhile, in other news, I have spent the weekend driving, mainly to drop people off for parties/sleepovers whose details are, at best, extremely vague. Daughter two announced on Thursday that she was going to a sleepover on Saturday evening. “We have to be in x by 3pm,” she said. We had some errands to run in the morning. Except, even if only son is up at 7am on a Saturday, nothing else gets moving until noon. We were inevitably running late. “It’s ok. We have to meet in x town at 4pm instead,” said daughter two. X town is quite a way away from the original location. Daughter two was texted en route by another friend. Could we give her a lift? We were half an hour late and stuck on the motorway. Daughter two updated her friend. “It’s ok,” she replied. As we neared X town another friend texted to ask if we could pick up the initial friend. Arg. Daughter two announced that no-one was at the station where everyone was supposed to be meeting because the party organiser was not going to arrive until 5pm. Plus, having stated that she knew the way to the station, it turned out she had no idea. We circled the area until we spotted some of her friends.
This is not what I call a well organised party, I told daughter two. “Mum is getting stressed,” piped up only son from the back. “Can you put on some George Michael? Number two, please, mum.” I texted daughter two later to ask if she had got to the party okay. About five hours later she replied. “Yeah.”
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.