E Jane Dickson: 'It has been pointed out to me that proper mums carry tissues and never run out of plasters'

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The Independent Online

Bit of a swizz, putting the clocks forward on Easter morning. We breeze into church just in time for the final hymn, which is embarrassing for me, but not too disappointing for the children, who are eager to get on with the real business of the day.

"Now Mum," warns Con on our way to the Easter egg hunt in our neighbours' garden. "Don't be going on about the Easter Bunny, will you?"

"Or Prince Charles," adds Clara. "Don't be going on about him either."

It's true that I have been known to venture an opinion on both subjects, but my objections to each are quite different.

I worry that the Easter Bunny isn't quite constitutional, being neither Christian nor pagan (I could cope with the goddess Eostre on a greetings card, as I have explained to forehead-clutching groans from the kids). But I couldn't give a damn about Prince Charles's constitutional jiggery-pokery; I just think he's a peevish dolt.

But Clara hates it when I get all anti-monarchist, and Conor believes that flagrant disrespect to the Easter Bunny, on this of all days, is playing fast and loose with chocolate. So I agree to keep my opinions to myself, at least until Con has filled his basket. It is possible, I concede, that the EB is not just a goofily American construct designed to annoy pedants, but a stylised hare, and therefore in keeping with pagan symbols... But Con has had enough.

"It doesn't matter." He almost weeps. "Rabbit or hare, it doesn't matter. He's just a, a bunny. All right?"

Clara, for once, is on her brother's side. "You are turning into a bit of a weirdo about this," she tells me in a meaning-to- be-kindly voice. "It's not really the kind of thing mums care about."

"So," I ask, intrigued by yet another refinement of the job-description (it has, over the years, been pointed out to me that - inter alia - proper mums carry tissues in their handbags, keep a lifetime's supply of sharpened pencils and never run out of sticking plasters), "what is a suitable subject for mums to get excited about?"

"Oh, you know," says Clara, airily, "school dinners and stuff like that."

"Yes," chimes Con. Not Easter Bunnies and grammar. "I mean," he goes on, arms raised in rhetorical appeal, "what normal mum cares about 'panties'?"

I am, naturally, forced to point out that my loathing of the word "panties" is not strictly speaking a grammatical concern. It's just a word I really cannot stand, but even as I speak, I realise how lame this sounds. "Imagine," says Conor in a deep, scary voice, "if a giant Easter Bunny came along this road right now in a giant pair of panties..."

"Were to come," I murmur weakly. "Imagine if he were to come..." But the game is up. Pursued by a nine-year-old and a seven-year-old chanting "panties, panties", I break into a run. But I know, in my heart, there is nowhere to hide.