Sleepover rivalries


Only son has got sleepover fever. So, having had his first sleepover away from home last week, this Friday it was time for the return leg. I was at work till late and my partner was doing a session at the primary school on life in Spain, over a year too late at a time when his long love affair with the UK has been more or less been extinguished. Still, he enjoyed himself answering questions about whether there are sharks in the Costa Brava and came away feeling a mixture of satisfaction at having done his bit for European relations and sadness that there was little point, given events, and that our children – all of them – are going to have to pay the price.

By the time I got back only son and his friend were bouncing on the trampoline. Daughter one announced that her Chinese homework was to eat takeaway Chinese. Could we walk to the nearest takeaway and get some? It is always a pleasure to spend some time with daughter one, particularly after an hour and a half stuck on the motorway. Only son and his friend asked for some midnight feast essentials and when we came back they were busy doing Lego Batman 3. Only son was looking very upset. “I am superman and he is batman and he has done three important things and I only got to do one and he got more coins than me,” sobbed only son. I looked at the screen. There was lots of movement. It was way too late in the week for me to focus on what all of this meant. I have tried to understand Lego Batman 3 and my mind freezes every time I look at it. Give me Scrabble any day. Nothing flashes and twitches constantly in Scrabble.

I suggested bedtime was a good idea. Only son’s friend is a big fan of Heckedy Peg, the story about a very bad witch who eats children. We read the story with all the accents and I left only son sharing an English/Spanish book about a little cat called Lucia. Harmony had been restored. Five minutes later they were both asleep.

However, by 5am only son was up and finding it hard to get back to sleep. By 6.45 both boys were fully awake. It falls to my partner to do the Saturday morning early shift so he got up with them, but by 7.45am I could hear the strains of “I HATE you,” rising up the stairs. I went downstairs. Lego Batman 3 was on again. Oh dear. I started a round of painting and only son suggested cutting the paintings into pieces and sellotaping them back together to look like a Picasso Cubist artwork. ┬áBy 9am, after football, breakfast and an attempt at watching Toy Story, we were going on a walk down to a local farm. It was along a tree-lined path. “It’s like the Amazon rainforest,” said only son, “but without the piranhas and snakes.” Yes, just like that. We talked about the trees and how old they were and what they might have seen in their lives. “Mum, my head is so full of interesting things it is going to pop,” said only son. His friend was, meanwhile, looking for foxes. Peace reigned.

We got home and I started getting only son’s friend’s gear together. I went upstairs for a micro-second. When I came down again only son’s friend was sobbing. “Only son has downloaded a game and I wanted to do the other one,” he said disconsolately. “I never want to see you again,” said only son. This was not going well. After around 10 minutes I had managed to get them to shake hands, but only son refused to come to drop his friend off.

Next time, no Lego Batman 3…

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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