LORRAINE CANDY: My girl needs a badge saying 'I'm growing up, Mum. Get over it!'

The eldest has something to ask me. ‘Muuuuuum,’ she says elongating the word in that familiar way pre-teen girls do when they want something they know they probably can’t have.

‘TV in your room? Guinea pig? Pocket money increase? Shorter skirt? Eyeliner to school?’ I reply, trying to guess her latest must-have.

‘Can I go and stay with a friend for the bank holiday weekend?’ she asks.

There follows an unnaturally long silence during which she stares at me like that weird hypno-dog from Britain’s Got Talent.

Obviously, I want to hurl myself at her feet, grab her ankles and yell ‘don’t leave me’ in the manner of clingy wife Sue Ellen grappling with wayward husband J.R. in Dallas.

But I don’t. Instead it takes every inch of my feeble maternal muscle to mutter: ‘Sure.’ For that is the right thing to do, isn’t it? At least that’s what it says in all the books about letting your child develop their independence. But it’s definitely not what I want to do. I wish one could be more selfish during this parental malarkey.

This week Lorraine deals with rejection as her 12-year-old decides for the first time that she'd rather spend the bank holiday weekend with her friends, rather than joining in with the traditional family outing (stock image)

This week Lorraine deals with rejection as her 12-year-old decides for the first time that she'd rather spend the bank holiday weekend with her friends, rather than joining in with the traditional family outing (stock image)

Bank holidays are extra special treats for working mums. The bonus day off (and subsequent four-day week) slows everything down so you can enjoy family time together.

It’s too costly and stressful for a trip away, so we always stay at home (mostly in our pyjamas) watching TV or dragging the ancient, blind dog round the park. Treats occur on an hourly basis: giant bowls of Coco Pops for breakfast, unlimited access to the chocolate Hobnob tin, chips with everything, no bath times and late to bed.

The big outing is a trip to see a film where we push the boat out and pay 18 times as much for stale popcorn at the cinema as it would cost fresh in the supermarket next door. Mr Candy’s definition of luxury. It doesn’t really matter what we do because we’re all together. It’s tradition.

And now, for the first time, my 12-year-old doesn’t want to be with us.

I take this personally. It’s like having a boyfriend you’re besotted with suddenly telling you he’s decided to go out with his mates on Valentine’s Day. This must be the Bridget Jones phase of motherhood.

So it is agreed, she’ll go home after school with her friend and we won’t see her again until Monday night.

She packs her bright pink suitcase and says she’ll phone every evening. Obviously, she doesn’t and I have to bother the other mum like a broken-hearted teenager stalking her errant boyfriend.

‘Me again,’ I say with fake cheer. ‘Could you pass me on to my daughter so we can have a monosyllabic conversation where I tell her how much I miss her and she pretends she has remembered to clean her teeth?’

Of course she has been on sleepovers before, and indeed away with friends and school, but her choice to abandon me, I mean us, over a bank holiday feels like the saddest rejection.

‘It’s not as if I am going to some “rando’s house”,’ she says when I relay how I feel. I think ‘rando’ means random person, but I’ve stopped asking what all these new words mean for fear of sounding like an ancient nitwit.

She should just wear a badge saying: ‘I’m growing up, Mum, get over it.’ And of course I will but, gosh, it is painful, worse than when she went into her own room from her Moses basket when she was three months old.

Her sister, 11, is delighted. ‘Great,’ she says, ‘we can go to Burger King.’ The eldest hates burgers.

Her brother, eight, is more disturbed, something to do with Minecraft and zombie pigs on the computer. Apparently, she’s the best at finding them. This will affect his score. Mabel, three, is as upset as me. It makes no sense.

‘But she won’t see the purple guy,’ Mabel says perplexed. She’s referring to the purple alien character in the film Home, for which we have tickets. It stars Rihanna. How bad can it be?

‘There’ll be more room on the sofa during Gogglebox,’ my husband points out pragmatically.

So it begins, the gradual letting go. When she returns on Monday night she looks taller. Her hair is unbrushed and she’s full of stories of bike riding and dinner at a Chinese restaurant.

She heads for the fridge for a snack and then the dog.

‘Duke,’ she says with love as she sits beside his smelly bed stroking his ears. ‘I’ve missed you so much.’

Lorraine Candy is editor-in-chief of Elle magazine.


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