Yesterday brings a classic pre-pubescent child/tired mother moment. If you’ve never had a conversation like this with your 11-year-old, then I’d like to know what you’re putting in her cornflakes.
Here goes: I get home from a run after a brain-crushingly long day at the computer, to find my daughter baking muffins in the kitchen with a friend. I’ve been looking forward to seeing her all day, and skip into the kitchen with a jolly smile, saying “Hey! How are you? How was your day at school?!”
The answer to that questions is apparently not “Fine thanks. Mind if I trash your kitchen?” but, “Mum, I HAVE to go to the party shop NOW to get an American Indian costume for Children in Need. It’s TOMORROW!!”
OK. Rewind a little. I thought we were baking muffins…and saying hello to one another like humans do. And anyway – haven’t we known about Children in Need for, like, a year? Why the panic the evening before?
I put all of this to my flour-covered child, and get:
“Mu–um! I’ve been busy and I forgot, OK? And I told everyone I’m going as an American Indian, so I have to buy a costume. NOW!”
“Well what did you tell everyone that for? You know we don’t buy costumes, and never have done. We give the money we would have spent on the costume to children. Who are In Need. That’s kind of the point – not dressing up in a £10 feathered head-dress and watching telly all night. Mind the FLOUR!”
“But GOD Mum, EVERYONE else is buying a costume. I HAVE to get one.” Stamps foot. (This is a bad move.)
“Don’t say God. And who is everyone?”
“OK. And did Everyone leave it until 5pm the night before to think about sorting out their costume? Claire – do you have a costume?”
“Ummmmm, not sure.”
“There, see? Claire doesn’t have one either. How about you both go as witches – you still have your Halloween stuff.”
“Witches??! No WAY. We’re not BABIES. We’re going as American Indians. Aren’t we Claire?”
I take a deep breath. I do not want a fight, especially as Monosyllabic Friend is here, I’m tired and I want to have a nice evening with my family. I try realism:
“Sweetie, it’s 5 o’clock. You are covered in flour. My kitchen is covered in flour. I see you have gone to the Co-op to buy half the world’s supply of flour and caster sugar, 90% of which you seem not to need and which cost me…let’s see this receipt now…ooooh look, almost a tenner, and now you are asking me to go to a party shop and buy you a costume which you will wear ONCE….”
“I won’t! I’ll….”
“Hang on. I’m not finished…when I SHOULD be going to collect your brother and sister from afterschool activities, and then make dinner and then clean up this baking goods explosion, and then decorate fifty muffins to look like Pudsey Bear. I’ll spare you the details of the stressful day I’ve just had at work for 7 hours, but in general did I get that right?”
There’s a pause.
“Did I get that right?”
More flour is wafted across the kitchen island as I pick up my 23 pence change, move three bags of sugar into a cupboard and turn the oven down from a frazzling 220 degrees to a more muffin-friendly 180. I think we can safely say I’ve won that argument.
And then it comes.
“But pleeaaase Mum I really NEED that costume!!”
The costume was, of course, not bought, the muffins were decorated to look like Pudsey Bear – we completed this task as Big Ben chimed 10pm – and my daughter went to school this morning looking ecstatic, dressed head to toe in blue, which is the colour of the anti-bullying campaign running this week. If I’d bought her five costumes from the party shop she couldn’t have looked happier. I watched her and her friends giggling and skipping to school, with not a shop-bought costume between the five of them.
If THAT wasn’t an argument we could have avoided, I don’t know what is.
All I do know is that I’ll be having another twenty of them before the weekend is out.
Ahhhhhh, hormones. Don’t you just LOVE them??!