Daughter two has gone on a Spanish exchange and the ground is shifting in her absence. Even before she left daughter one was asking quietly for some chocolate fingers. The vegan thing is hard when you have a penchant for milk chocolate. Daughter three’s commitment to vegetarianism is also at risk. She is existing on a diet which relies heavily on pizza and crisps due to a dislike of most vegetarian options, including all cheese [except when on a pizza]. This is despite being offered an array of dishes based on lentils, pulses, pasta, etc.
The kitten, meanwhile, has had her first injections and is becoming more lively by the day, swinging from the curtains and keeping a close eye on my typing. She is currently sat on a book on feminism [female solidarity begins early], closely observing my keyboard, ready to pounce. You may escape office politics by working from home, but no-one warns you about the dangers of working with pets.
Only son thinks the kitten is the sweetest cat ever. He has placed her at number three in his best in the family list, above his dad. Daughter two, needless to say, is at the bottom. “So annoying,” says only son. I bet he’s going to miss her while she has gone, though. While she tends to go over the top in her sparring with him – which mainly consists of who can say poo and bum the most [only son has discovered the voice assistant on my phone. All I could hear the other day was a straitlaced American saying “an emission of wind from the anus” followed by lots of giggling] – she is the sibling most likely to do unpredictable and potentially fun things like cover herself in flour.
Daughter two’s Madrid exchange took a sudden unexpected turn the day before she left when I had a message on my phone saying hallo from her exchange partner. Except it wasn’t the one we had been corresponding with until that point. Having spent many hours being forced to watch Catfish, my antennae were on alert for some sort of entrapment. It turns out that the original partner had been, as it were, exchanged. That meant daughter two had to explain all over again in her best Spanish [courtesy of Google Translate] that she was vegan. She had written to the first exchange partner pointing out that she didn’t eat dairy, etc, and the exchange partner had replied that there was no problem and that she would make her a lovely lasagne. Daughter two had loaded her suitcase with cereal bars.
The second exchange partner seemed to have very good English. For some reason daughter two told her that she liked football. Daughter two has absolutely no interest in football. “What team do you support?” asked the exchange. “What team do I support, mum?” asked daughter two. I instructed her that, as she was going to Madrid, there was a high possibility that her exchange partner was a Real Madrid supporter. Under no circumstances should she mention that her dad is a Barcelona supporter until she had got the lay of the land. She plumped for Arsenal as their stadium is near a vegan cake shop. “My team is Real Madrid,” came back the response. Daughter two went off to research Arsenal players.
Her main concern, though, was shoes. Mainly her sister’s shoes. She covets most items of daughter one’s wardrobe and considers her the Queen of Cool. Daughter one is not impressed. However, perhaps because she was feeling guilty in anticipation of succumbing to a box of chocolate fingers, she agreed to lend daughter two a pair of shoes, although she couldn’t quite bring herself to do something as uncool as give her a hug goodbye.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.