Mum’s the word: Janet Christie on parenting

‘You’re just a beeping beep’

I’m clinging to sleep by my fingertips as oblivion recedes thanks to a low rumbling that I haven’t heard since I witnessed a herd of wild pigs running along a motorway in Germany. Growling boys.

“Mum, tell him, growl. He’s wearing my boxers, growl.”

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“I beeping asked you, ya beep. Growl, Mum, tell him.”

“Yeah, when you were already beeping wearing them. Mum, tell him.”

“You’re wearing my hoodie, growl. Mum …”

I sneak into the shower, put the water on full and sing tunelessly (in defiance of Youngest’s me-singing ban), to drown it out.

When I emerge the growls are even louder. “Growl, growl, you’re just a beeping beep.”

“Right, I’m not going to school.”

Suddenly I’m seized by fury, they’ve got loads of boxers. I’ll give them not going to school. I march into the hall.

I start to shout. But nothing comes out. Not a peep. I check for the rage. Still there, but my voice isn’t. Words have finally failed me. I reel back into the bedroom, shocked, breenging into the laundry basket before collapsing into bed. That’s when I spot some boxers, dislodged from the basket.

I fold them, stomp into the hall and throw a pair at each. Silence. Victory.

Then: “You’re still a beeping beep...

“So’re you…”