Sometimes the day doesn’t go as planned. “Mum, can you pick me up early – I’m on study leave and I’ve got a migraine coming on.” Hmm. Daughter one was feeling a bit tired after a weekend in Liverpool and was putting on a charm offensive. She is particularly good at this. Over the last few days she has made a point of asking me how my day was before I have even been able to ask how hers went. And she makes it sound like she is genuinely interested. It’s a skill.
She is also finding it a bit of a struggle keeping to the vegan thing, but has soldiered on even in the absence of the Moral One [daughter two, vegan numero uno, currently in Madrid on a Spanish exchange]. “Would it be at all possible to swing by a Co-op on the way home?” she inquired. I felt this was pushing it a bit. I said I might consider it later on the second round of school pick-ups.
Later I went to get only son from primary school. “I want to stop Spanish club,” he said. “We are still doing colours and I know them all.” It turned out that he had had a conversation about this with his dad, who is Spanish, and his dad had considered his request deeply and said “ask your mum”. I explained that I had paid good money for Spanish Club and that he was therefore doomed to continue to the end of the term. This was his opportunity to be innovative. I suggested taking in some Spanish vocab books and having a word with his teacher. Only son was not impressed.
My phone rang, which is unusual as it doesn’t usually function near the school for some unfathomable reason. It was daughter three. “Hi mum, I’m at school and XX is coming round. She has to come round now because we told her mum not to pick her up so is that ok?” XX lives around 40 minutes drive from home. Daughter three had put the phone down before I could respond. So I turned up at secondary school and daughter three and her friend jumped in. Only son started a running commentary on his day before we arrived at the Co-op. “Did you know that daughter three can’t eat sweets because they have gelatin and she’s a vegetarian?” announced only son to the world in general. Daughter three, who is a bit of a Haribo fan, was busy studying the labels of all the sweet packets in the shop and looking a bit downcast. On the bright side there were some jam doughnuts.
“Can I have just a tiny, tiny bag of sweets, mum?” asked only son, picking up the scooper. “Daughter three can’t have these,” he said to her friend knowingly. “She’s a vegetarian.”
We headed home and daughter three and her friend disappeared, but not for long. I found them in the kitchen with the cornflour, trying to make slime. It was daughter three’s fifth attempt. The last attempt ended in a slime war between her and daughter two with daughter two’s dressing gown being the major casualty.
“Lovely doughnuts, mum,” said daughter one appreciatively as she watched the Portuguese Eurovision entry for the 610th time since we got back. “I can’t believe the Croatian entry passed me by,” she added. “How has your day been so far, mum?”
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.