An English queen is nothing like an Australian queen. Or even a king. Or a double. Having moved house last week, I am sadly not at mardi gras, but of course having to re-jig bedrooms, beds and all of the bed linen. The Blonde Child has moved down to a single, the Boy Child up to a double and I’ve also managed to retrieve my goose-down king duvet from the Tween Child (who is now in a queen, just to confuse things even further).
Not wanting to jolt our precarious financial situation any further, I head to IKEA. Where everything is labelled in dimensions rather than what could be incredibly useful bed-linen-for-expats stickers with handy descriptions like ‘UK double’ or ‘US single’ or ‘Australian queen’ on them.
“What does mummy’s bed measure?” I frantically text home to the Blonde Child. “Fifty-six inches and 13 cms,” she texts back twenty minutes later. I figuratively bang my head against the nearest Billy bookcase.
In a word, my bedrooms are a mess. Now and again I float the boarding school idea to my children. Just gently, obviously I wouldn’t want to push them into anything they didn’t want to do. Of course I love that there are four of them, needing four bedrooms, and that their friends seem to enjoy sleeping in my house, too, requiring yet more bed linen. It’s lovely. Marvellous.
“Just think what fun boarding school would be!” I enthuse to the Blonde Child as I drop her at run training on Saturday morning. “All those friends and activities, all in an exciting other place that’s not boring old home!”
“Hmm,” the Blonde Child muses. “I’m not sure, I think I might give it a miss, actually mum, thanks anyway.”
And so I trundle my way back home, thinking about the lovely breakfast waiting for me. In an effort to get healthy for summer, I headed all the way into M&S yesterday for a lovely big avocado, some fresh wholemeal bread and organic, free range eggs. My little treat for a week well accomplished.
“Hi mum,” cries the Tween Child brightly from behind the kitchen counter as I finally walk through the front door. “I’m just making breakfast for me and my friends. Our rugby coach says we need to think a bit more about proteins in the morning,” she adds cheerfully, carving up the wholemeal loaf and scraping avocado onto a plate.
I sigh and slide a slice of stale white bread into the toaster. Oh well, there’s always next weekend.
In the living room the Teen Child and pose are sprawled all over the couch, Friends blaring from the telly. “Oh hi, mum,” she calls, scooping free-range organic scrambled eggs into her mouth. “I hope you don’t mind, I had a few friends over last night!”
“No problem,” I mutter. “Oh, did you get a chance to look at that boarding school brochure I left on the coffee table?”
“Yeah, but you know what? I don’t think boarding school is really for me. I mean, I don’t think the food’s supposed to be that good. And the weather, I’m just not ready for that level of cold right now, you know?
“Oh yeah,” she adds. “And don’t worry about lunch for me today, I think we’re going to head over to the club. Oh, and did you renew my passport? Anna’s mum says I can join them at their villa on Koh Samui for Dragon Boat long weekend.”
English boarding school, I mean really, I can’t understand why they’re all so unenthusiastic.
And so I trudge upstairs and spend an uninspiring morning trying to force double duvet covers onto queen size duvets and unwrapping what I thought were fitted sheets only to find they are not fitted at all. If only I’d taken Swedish instead of French at A-level. Two more trips back to IKEA and I have torn most of my greying hair out.
“Hi mum!” calls the Blonde Child several hours later, home from run club and a playdate. “Oh wow! You changed my bed!” she cries, skipping into her bedroom.
“You know what mum, I was having a think about boarding school. Clemmie says you can ride horses, every day. She says there’ll be stables in the playground and everything. And guess what? In Year 9 you can buy your own horse and keep it at the school!” She is literally hopping with excitement. “So mum I think I might go after all.”
I look at her freshly made bed that has taken me an entire morning and a tank of petrol to accomplish. And then I also think of our bank balance. I have a feeling ponies don’t come cheap. Definitely more expensive than keeping the avocado bowl replenished.
“You know what?” I say wearily. “I think I might just keep you at home for one more year. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss out on this lovely new bedroom. Now, who did you say was sleeping over tonight?”