November – Running woman


The Teen Child has been selected to represent her school on a netball tour to Shanghai. I am so proud of her.

After all those fraught toddler years of tantrums, refusal to “share nicely” and apologies to other mothers, it seems it is all coming good. My daughter is not hanging around 7/11 with dubious boys and a can of Tsing Tao. She is a sporting star! I am a success as a mother!

“That’s fantastic!” I gush as she deposits a small hillock of tour paperwork onto the kitchen counter (hello Chinese visa queue). “I’m so proud of you!” I swoon, attempting to give her a hug. “Well done!”

“Yeah, thanks mum,” she grunts, the glimmer of a smile on her lips.

“Ooooh, a trip to Shanghai! What fun, let me have the flight details and I’ll reserve my seat,” I trill.

The smile becomes a grimace. “No way! You can’t come!”

“Really?” How do teenagers do this? Burst your little bubble of pride and happiness at every turn. “Why on earth not?”

“Oh god, it’s a NETBALL tour, mum, with my friends? Not a mother and daughter shopping trip! Just promise you won’t be in the same hotel,” she scowls, flouncing off up the stairs. “Or on the same flight!”

Sadly, I resign myself to doing the right thing and letting my big girl do this thing alone. I’ve got to start letting go, she’s not a baby anymore.

And no matter, because later that evening an email comes through from a friend in Singapore. Would I like to run the Angkor Wat half marathon this year? Hmm, not really, I think, remembering that 21km through the Laotian countryside last year was pretty tough. It took weeks of slogging along Hong Kong’s highways and byways to get me race fit, plus a fairly expensive physio bill for a sprained ankle and a pulled calf muscle. At one point I think my run coach was seriously ruling the day that he took me under his wing. Apparently I went a long-way towards disproving the quote by that American navy SEAL, ‘the more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat’. In my case the more I sweated, the more the specialists’ medical bills accumulated on my husband’s desk.

I must say the actual run went ok, although on the last lap I was so exhausted I mistook a tray of artistically arranged cocktails advertising a roadside restaurant for the free energy drinks supplied by the race organisers. And I don’t care what the barman said, a Screwdriver looks very much like a Lucozade when you’ve been sweating it out over 21km in 30-odd degrees of heat.

But hey, there’s a whole group going on the Angkor Wat trip, with talk in the email of a new boutique hotel with a spa, massages, shopping…

“Go!” says my husband. “You deserve it, you work hard, with the kids, the house” (he waves his hand vaguely towards the scowling Blonde Child belting the Boy Child over the head with the X-Box remote and the teetering sculpture of ginger jars in the corner) “or whatever it is you do all day,” he adds lamely. “Book it up, boutique hotels, the whole thing.”

I suspect his magnanimity has more to do with his football team’s upcoming tour to Vietnam (I bumped into a fellow WAG in Fusion last week) and his subsequent need for a leave pass from family life for a long weekend than his desire for me to spend time with the girls. But whatever the reason, I can go. Four days, free as a bird, no kids, no school pick-up, no husband, lots of cocktails. Actually, a child-free zone for a few days is starting to sound very appealing.
“Great!” I type back to the run posse, “I’m in!”

The following week I’m perusing the latest stock of trainers in Escapade. Blue? Orange? Actually blue would go rather better with that Lulu Lemon top I got the other week. Gosh, decisions, decisions. And what sort of evening wear will be required? There’s been mention of a new Michelin starred restaurant. Maybe I should leave my accessories at home and have a good shop in the local markets? There’s nothing like a bit of Boho chic, and the Duchess of Cambridge did get away with those craft market earrings in Bhutan the other year…

And so I’m in a haze of indecision when the Teen Child bursts through the front door from school later that afternoon.

“Oh my god mum!” she cries. “Guess what?”

I am frozen to the spot. What has my clever daughter gone and done now?

“I’ve only been selected for the school run team going to Angkor Wat this year!” she whoops. “And we’re staying in this amazing new hotel with a spa!”

My happy little bubble of peaceful, adult-only cocktails at sunset evaporates into the ether.

Oh god, I just hope she’s not on the same flight.