Bit of background. My husband and I had three kids within three and a half years. So really it is all our own fault. We were deluded. It is all you really need to know.

Our main current issue with the offspring (11, 9 and 7) is our Unfairness Indicator. You know that device which registers Unfairness between siblings and prompts at least one into uttering the immortal words ‘Its not fair!’.

Ours is hair triggered and prone to go off instantly over the smallest thing. Although it has always been there, well ever since they could all speak, no actually probably before, recently it has become a really, really, really highly tuned instrument. So sensitive that even possible future inequalities can move it up to DEFCON 10.

It drives me utterly mad. I shout ‘Life isn’t fair’ on an almost daily basis and hate myself for doing so. I am sure there is a much better way to deal with these episodes. I probably have a dusty book on a shelf somewhere about how to talk to kids properly and calmly and in such a way that they end up embracing each other in a tearful group hug. Or not.

I had hazy plans when I was considering a family of long, lazy Sunday afternoons with the rain pouring down outside and the fire on, playing board games in a harmonious and friendly way. Or taking advantage of a beautiful spring afternoon by cycling en famille around some beauty spot stopping only for a rustic picnic. That rarely pans out quite how I envisaged it…

And that is because all mine are uber competitive. No-one is cut any slack. Not even poor old me. There is no point playing in this house unless you are out to win*.

All mine have different strategies. Eldest just relies on his brute strength and height and innate bossiness* to ensure that winning is highly likely. That is because he sets the rules, enforces the rules, changes the rules when the rules he has already set are not favouring him; so basically he wins. In any physical game he wins almost every time, if someone else wins clearly they cheated so he won by default.

Middlest has the brains. He shines at all sorts of board games, but, and its a big but, he has no staying power. If he senses that he is not going to win he merely absents himself from the activity. And he can make this decision as soon as he has had his second go if someone, say, has the temerity to target him in some underhand way, like landing on him in Frustration. He has to be cadjoled, bribed, bullied and co-erced back to the table when usually his amazing general knowledge and logical thinking wins the day. But if it doesn’t he will sulk*.

Youngest has the staying power of an Everest Sherpa. Tenacious does not begin to describe her. She is smallest and youngest but does that stop her? By golly no. She was the first to do everything. Walk, skip, run, climb, cycle, swim, dive, kick a ball, play for her school, win a cross country race etc etc. Obviously chronologically she did it all last but if you compare her age at the time of these achievements to her brothers she beats them hands down. But that is not enough for her. So she keeps plugging away, somewhat futilely.

As for my dreams, that bike ride involves all three trying to outpace each other, or doing the whole route only in top gear, or doing the longest skid. They leave their poor old mum in the dust. And the board games descend into finger pointing, sulking hell.

I am sure it will stand them all in good stead. For something. Meanwhile I will go gently grey(er) and try to rise above…

Footnote * not sure where they get these things from…