Too tired to smell



Sometimes things don’t go to plan. Daughter one was down to do some volunteering at a science festival with her friend this weekend. It’s a bit of a drive away so I said I’d drop them and take the other kids out for the day. I didn’t factor in that said teenagers would go to bed late and that one small six year old would be up at 5am, whispering excitedly to his sister: “My tooth fairy has come, wake up.” So by 8am when I had to get everyone out the door, I was already flagging.

We dropped daughter one and her friend and went for breakfast and then Lush. We had been to Lush in London where only son was given a free bath bomb after subjecting the poor shop assistant to a grilling about all the different types of soap. “Look your sweetest,” I cajoled as we entered. Despite his best efforts, there was no freebie so he invested all his tooth money in a small bath bomb.

We then did some sciency things involving DNA, robots and sunflowers as well as a guess that smell game which I failed abismally. I think my nose is too tired to smell. We were in the park doing running races when my phone pinged. Daughter one’s friend had had her phone stolen. Could we come urgently to the lecture theatre where they were volunteering as ushers?

She had put the phone down for a moment and it had been nicked. However, it was an iphone and it apparently has a tracking device. Daughter one had tracked the phone to a polar science research centre. Daughter two’s ears perked up. “Can we follow the phone and make a citizen’s arrest?” she said. Daughter two is going through an Agatha Christie phase and now wants to be a lawyer – or, more likely, an actor who plays a lawyer.

Apparently, however, the phone had been switched off so daughter two’s plans were thwarted. Daughter one’s friend rang her mum who blocked her sim card. Her provider told her to ring the police. So I rang the police. It was at the precise moment that I got through that 450 people came out of the lecture theatre. “I can’t quite hear you,” I said. “I’ll ring back,” said the police officer. We headed back to the park.

Just as we were walking past a busy bus stop on the main road, my phone rang. It was the police. I still couldn’t hear them very well and only son was bouncing around me. They asked some questions about the make of the phone and daughter one’s friend’s address. My mind drew only a blank, even though I was due to drop her back there in around two hours time. I told the police officer that I would go back and get her to ring him.

As we neared the lecture theatre daughter one came running. “We’ve got the phone back. They handed it back.”

“I need the toilet,” said only son, clutching his bottom and looking pained. “It’s a poo.” Uh oh. This was followed 15 seconds later by “too late. It’s come out”. He started shaking his leg. “I think it’s gone down my leggings,” he said loudly.

Luckily, his leggings were tucked into his boots so we headed for the toilet. “Don’t whatever you do say anything suspicious about poos as we pass by all the people,” I advised. We entered the lecture theatre and I looked down at only son. He was walking in a kind of crab-like sideways fashion with his legs crossed, looking ever so slightly suspicious.

We retired home after that. I’m not sure how much we learned about science, but the important thing is that we survived.

I’m now counting the hours until Mother’s Day, an oasis in a desert of sleep, although only son has announced plans to make breakfast which could mean an early start…

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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