Surviving the school trip

Daughter two is returning from what feels like a decade away, but is in fact a week and a day. She has been allowed no communication whatsoever with her family bar one postcard, which I am thinking is probably way worse for her parents than for her. I am assuming she is still alive as we have not heard anything to the contrary. Fortunately, the postcard only turned up yesterday. It said: “I’m alive”, which was good news. It proceeded: “We went to the beach cliffs and it was so windy I almost fell into the sea,” not entirely comforting news, given that she is the most accident prone of our children.

We have had to close her bedroom door because it was too upsetting just to walk by it and not see her doing a handstand or knocking up some artistic masterpiece in it. The house has been very quiet since she left. No-one has had a falling out, apart from a minor skirmish over the tv remote, and there have been no dramatic injuries, cookery extravaganzas or synchronised trampolining displays.

Daughter three admitted by Saturday that she was missing her sister and by Sunday was drawing up a welcome back card and a banner. Only son has grudgingly admitted to missing her too, although he is slightly under the influence of daughter one, who is moaning that a week just isn’t long enough.

Daughter two is back just in time for daughter three’s 10th birthday and has managed to miss daughter one’s mourning period for Ed Miliband and her threat to riot because “there is no point in anything any more. My generation is doomed”. She was in fact in tears for much of Friday. By Saturday she was investigating facts about Walthamstow, where she was born, and how we could move back there [to a one bedroom flat…]. Daughter three was sympathetic, but would prefer to sell up, buy a caravan and go round the world being homeschooled. She wants to start with Swindon.

This is because she decided she didn’t want a party for her birthday, but would like a family outing with an overnight stay. After much searching of caravan sites and the like, we found a good deal in Swindon. Daughter three is very excited. So excited that she can hardly wait to tell daughter two, who has absolutely no concept of geography and will not have a clue where Swindon is. It could very well be Disneyland Paris for all she knows.

Only son is very excited too because his birthday follows hot on the heels of daughter three’s. He has invited five people to have a party at his house. They are two old friends from his nursery whose numbers I don’t have, his uncle and one of his cousins [not her sister for some reason] and Spiderman. So far, the only one who is a definite is Spiderman and that’s because daughter two is secretly dressing up as him. The only slight hitch is that the cheap costume I found online is for a five foot four man. I think daughter two may have to bulk up.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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