When I go to meetings – or indeed anywhere – small people seem to think it is some sort of freebie opportunity for them. “Are you going to a meeting today, mum?” says daughter three. “Will you be able to bring me something?” On the plus side, this gives them a very positive – if unrealistic – view of what is involved in a meeting. Also, they seem to be happy with whatever I bring back, even if it’s only a name tag. Only son was inordinately proud of a magnet name tag I got once. He wore it all day long the next day even though it had my name on it.
The trouble is I have four children. That means four things. And they must all be of equal merit for fear of being accused of favouritism. Is a free pen the same as a packet of biscuits? And if you take two packets of biscuits, should they be the same flavour in case of more accusations of favouritism. The other day I brought back four packets of biscuits. Two were passion fruit and white chocolate and two salted caramel. Now, this was a tough choice. White chocolate used to be an all-time favourite, but salted caramel seems to be everywhere these days even though I have absolutely no idea what it is. As I type this, daughter one is looking over my shoulder. “Oh my god. You got salted caramel,” she said.
Yes, dear reader, I decided to give the younger two the salted caramel en route to the secondary school, swear them to secrecy and then offer the white chocolate ones as the only choice to the others, hence avoiding a sibling battle to the death whilst at the same time appearing like a benificent and thoughtful mother. This is despite the fact that both the older ones felt that passion fruit really does not go with white chocolate.
I went to a meeting the other night. “Are you going to a meeting tonight?” asked only son as he came whizzing out of school having apparently tipped a whole can of spaghetti sauce down his front. “Can you bring me something back?” asked daughter two. “I’ve got cross country this week.” She proceeded to tell me all the people in her class who were going to be off sick because of cross country. Cross country hangs like a cloud over the whole of autumn term. Daughter one has it on Friday and daughter one is most definitely not a cross country or any kind of country person. She feels her whole life has gone down the pan since we left London.
Daughter three used to get regularly volunteered for cross country events at her last school despite loathing it and has sympathised deeply with her sisters this week. Unfortunately, there were no freebies whatsoever at the meeting. I returned home around 10pm empty handed bar a couple of business cards. Daughter two opened an eye when I looked in her room. “Did you get anything?” she asked before dozing off again. I wafted a business card under her nose. She turned over and went back to sleep.
The following morning was busy – only son was getting very excited about having packed lunch, daughter two was hobbling in anticipation of cross country despite being one of the most competitive runners in the family, daughter one was doing some last-minute Chinese revision and daughter three was finishing off her lunar lander creation. No one mentioned my outing. I fear the glamour of meetings is beginning to wear off.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.