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Why do I always seem to be in debt to my children? We were in Superdrug the other day and daughter three wanted to buy a Zoella body lotion. Daughter three is a bit of a Zoella fan. Pictures of the Youtube phenomenon adorn her walls and she speed read her book a few months ago. Said Zoella body lotion was retailing at the price of £5. That’s £5 for a tube of body lotion which you could very easily buy – without Zoella’s endorsement, clearly – for a pound in Poundland. “I can pay for most of it out of the £3 you owe me from my birthday money,” she said. Her birthday was in May. I have no recollection of last week let alone May so I have absolutely no idea if I do in fact owe her any money.
There followed a long and detailed debate about the merits of Zoella products at more than twice the price I was prepared to pay, during which I told her she could make a better body lotion than Zoella – a suggestion I may later regret – and that Zoella was very probably not involved in any way, shape or form in the making of body lotion or any other bathroom product but had merely signed a form to lend her name to it so that the body lotion company could rip off people like daughter three. Daughter three thought through retail strategy and the implications of global capitalism for a few short minutes. “I can live without it,” she said. “But you do owe me a sleepover. Let’s do it tonight.”
Daughter three is an excellent strategist. I felt duly obliged to have a sleepover. She set her alarm for 1.30am and I secretly thought there was no way on Earth she would wake up and retired to bed after changing only son’s already wet sheets. At 1.30am a figure loomed next to my side of the bed. “It’s sleepover time,” it whispered. I hauled myself out of bed and headed downstairs to the sofa with daughter three and a duvet. We were joined at around 6am by only son for a film, some Vimto, a packet of Haribos and some raspberries [in the interests of health].
I have been talking about debt quite a bit this week. Daughter one said there was no way she would live in a village when she left school. This was shortly after the Budget so I gently informed her of the student loan situation and the cost of renting in a city. The picture is not exactly bright for her generation. Basically the approach to the young seems slightly confusing. On the one hand, they are increasingly treated as adults at an early age – the stress of school and constantly thinking about exams being a dry run for work – and on the other hand their financial dependence even if they get a job means their childhood years are basically being extended into their late 20s. Daughter one is not impressed. Meanwhile daughter three very sweetly remarked the other day after daughter one had expressed a desire to leave home ASAP that she had no plans to move out ever, if that was okay with her dad and me. “I don’t want to leave home and I don’t want a boyfriend,” she said. “I have all I need right here.”
Meanwhile daughter two has spent the entire weekend with the disinfectant and wet wipes cleaning every corner of the house and watching house tours on Youtube. “Could we get a zip wire and a pool?” she asked. I inquired where we would fix the zip wire. Apparently from the back of the house into the allotments. I informed her about planning permission. She could scarcely believe that anyone anywhere in the world would object to a zip wire going into their allotment. She is currently working on a sort of boomerang zip wire thing where you fly over the allotments and then get propelled back into the garden.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.