I’m in the worst bit of illness. The bit where the parent is sick, but almost everyone else, particularly the youngest, bounciest member of the team, is not and you still have to get up and do the school run, etc. The combo of the cough from hell and the norovirus has reduced my energy levels to minus 100. Daughter three is similarly struck down and not coping well. She looks very sorry for herself and after going to the toilet just lies on the carpet in the hallway waiting for me to pick her up. I am typing this with only son helpfully deciding to lie his legs on top of mine. When I pointed out that I was ill and needed to be looked after he arched his legs and said he would hover over my legs. “I love you so much, mum,” he said. “He’s sooooo sweet,” says daughter one in passing. “Am I your best sister?”
Daughter one is on a charm offensive with only son. Her aim is to tempt him to move in with her and the cat when she leaves for university. She has not yet come to terms with the fact that she will in all likelihood be still living at home at this point and until she is around 35.
She is completely wrapped up in GCSEs at the moment, but took time out to go to sixth form open evening last week. She is keen on philosophy. “How would you define philosophy?” asked the teacher. Daughter one paused. “I think it is attempting to answer somewhat unanswerable questions,” she said. She’s been reading introductions to philosophy and some of the big philosophers. Daughter one is one of life’s thinkers. However, when, by way of conversation on the road home from the school run on Monday, I asked her what her friends had thought of open evening she said “Nothing. It’s not really the talk of the town, mum. Do you think our lives are that dull? We’re not parents.” I need to work on developing some sort of air of mystery.
She was trying to help out with getting only son to bed on Monday night, although really I suspect it’s just a bit of a delaying tactic so she can go to bed later. I was otherwise occupied with trying to find his socks. He seems to fling them off around the house and then has absolutely no memory of where they are. I found one. I decided that the only solution was to try to jog his memory.
“I’m going to tell you a story,” I said after daughter one had left to begin the half hour experience of “going through the bathroom” before bed. I proceeded to tell only son the sorry tale of Jim and John Sock, friends who were inseparable until, sadly, Jim got lost in a moment of madness. “John missed Jim so much because without him he felt like a part of him had gone,” I said. “All he could do was hope that the small person who wore him would remember exactly what had happened to Jim.” After about 10 minutes of making John sound incredibly sad I finished. “Any ideas where Jim is?” I asked only son. “No, mum. But could you read me an actual book because I do like your made up stories, but actual books are much better,” he said, ever polite. Twenty-four hours later and Jim has vanished into the ether along with the nine pairs of black socks I bought this time last year.
Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.