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COOPED UP WITH KIDS: Injured? Sick? Hungry? Mum’s handbag has the solution

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No one is more prepared than a mother with a big bag, says Mary-Jane Duncan. As well she knows!

Need a plaster? Here you go. Not feeling well? Behold my mini-chemist. Hungry? Help yourself to a snack. Spill something? Here’s a wipe and a stain remover. Button fallen off? Let me sew that for you. Want some extra tomato ketchup? Here’s a sachet from a previous outing.

My favourite example of this was my cousin’s wedding.

The bride was beyond divine, the Highland setting glorious, and the sun shining as never before in May.

My cousin, the highlight of any party, asked my two daughters to be flower girls. Exciting! The prettiest of dresses fitted and ordered. Hair was being done alongside the other bridal party. Eldest kid was in her element.

The other one, who is lovely cousin’s god-daughter, was less than thrilled because she had to forgo her beloved Spiderman costume and trainers.

She was only two but already set in her ways. To be fair she has been from the minute she was born. White dresses and curls ranked nowhere near the desire for wellies and muddy puddles, preferably with a giant stick in tow.

Flower girls, as sweet as can be.

We bribed and cajoled with the promise of making her beloved auntie very happy. Remember those times pre-children we all convinced ourselves bribery wouldn’t be a part of our child rearing? HA! At the very last second we wrangled her into her dress; it was a pathetic attempt to keep her clean.

We even convinced her into a pair of shoes. That was an achievement in line with any Iron Man race especially when eight months’ pregnant, the size of a double garage and not allowed one glass of champers… Dress on. Shoes on. Hair clipped. All set. The mister handsome in his kilt, me in an outfit a family of six could go camping in.

The church was glorious. Everyone so happy to see these two tie the knot and knowing it was going to be the best party ever. Eldest kid swooning around delighted by all the people naturally there to see her in all her glory. I hadn’t weebled over on the walk down, miracle of miracles, and kid had been distracted from digging in the dirt.

The pew seating was eventful due to the ginormous bump, and as middle kid refused to be any part of the procession (she’s never been one to be centre stage) she sat in between me and himself.

The flower girls arrived to oohs and aahs. The bridesmaids looked like they’d walked in from a Vogue shoot. The groom only marginally less handsome than the mister (am aware I’m biased).

The bride enters. I start weeping, which I blame on hormones. Her father beaming with pride. The congregation sighed with contentment and eagerly awaited the ceremony and party afterwards.

This is where the “Mammy bag” almost outshone the bride. While I was a paragon of virtue, being in the family way, some of the cousins were a tad worse for wear. The party we were eagerly awaiting had started the night before and lasted until the wee small hours. The need for the hair of the dog was sizzling through the guests like a current of electricity – well for those who hadn’t already indulged.

A happy family wedding.

And middle kid needed entertained due to the ceremony holding no interest for her. Paracetamol was distributed. Bottle of water to wash it all down. Hankies for sniffly aunt alongside some anti-histamine. A sausage was the parental weapon of choice. Like a ninja I swooped in before protestations heightened and produced a perfectly cooked sausage. This was devoured. Then some toast. A banana. Another sausage? And a tub of raspberries and blueberries.

A veritable picnic resulted in a ceremony without a peep from her, unlike her mother who was doing more howling than a pack of wolves.

I even had wipes for her hands and the dress remained gloriously intact for the photos that she refused to be a part of…