Like a tragic, older Ferris Bueller.


It’s basically undisputed fact that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is The Greatest Movie ever made.

Don’t agree? You might as well stop reading now. You and I? We have nothing to talk about.

If you’re still here, though, you’ll remember the final 10 minutes or so of Ferris Bueller – where Ferris is racing to get home before his parents, so they don’t realise he skipped school that day.

Friends, it turns out I’m the old, tragic Ferris Bueller.

Last night, Flea took her first ever unsupervised visit to the local supermarket. It’s about 2 minutes from our house by bike, so it’s not like it’s an Arctic exhibition or anything.

Still, the trip was better planned than your average journey to the pole. We planned the route (just one, quiet road to cross) and practiced it together. Money was put in purses, bike tyres topped up, iPhone charged.

And today was the day – Flea went to the shops.

It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?

When I was 7 or 8, I rode my bike to the shops ALL THE TIME.  Flea’s nine. But somehow it felt like a BIG thing. Maybe because Flea’s on her own, as an only child. Or maybe I’m neurotic.

She set off at 5.49pm. By 5.50pm, I’d fired up “Find my iPhone” on the Mac and was obsessively refreshing the page, tracking her progress.

Why is she stopping at the top of the road? Why? Oh, she’s off again.

She’s at the supermarket. Signal’s gone. That means she’s inside the supermarket. Or she’s fallen down a sewer. Or is in the back of a van on her way to Calais.

Why is she inside SO long?

At 6pm, the green dot appeared again in “Find my iPhone” at the supermarket. And there it stayed. And stayed. And stayed.

It was now 6.08pm.

That’s 20 minutes. Allowing 5 minutes to cycle there and back, that’s 10 minutes to find a tin of tomatoes and some spinach.

Too long.

I wait a minute more.

Enough’s enough.

I grab the keys, lock up the house and set off up the street in the car. I don’t see her. I start to feel a bit sick.

Reach the top of the street, round the corner. Still no sign.

Start to drive up the street, and oh BUGGER IT – she’s cycling straight towards me, looking pleased as punch. If I spoil this moment for her I will be the Worst Mother in History.

I duck. Not recommended in the Highway Code but fortunately she’s too distracted to recognise our car.

Swing into the supermarket. Execute world’s fastest three-point turn. Charge back out of supermarket car park, using local garage forecourt as a short cut. I have to be at home when she gets home. She can never know I doubted her.

Turn back into our street and slam on the brakes when I spot Flea 10 metres ahead of me. Don’t turn around, I mutter to her. Don’t turn around.

Hold my breath to see if Flea cycles straight down the street to the front door, or ducks down the alley to go straight to our back gate. Thank God – she ducks down the alley. I speed down our street like a crack dealer fleeing the Feds, and screech to a halt outside our house.

I race into the house, fumbling the keys twice on the way.  Tread on the dog’s paws in my rush to get to the back door. Open the back door. Into the garden.

Casually wait at the back gate, where my child has just arrived.


“Oh, you’re back. I was just playing with Teddy. How did it go?” 

I think I got away with it.

Mother of the Year.


19 thoughts on “Like a tragic, older Ferris Bueller.”

  1. OMG this would be me! We have just started letting our 71/2 year old “playing out” and I have kittens every single time.

    So far, every single night he’s been home exactly on time, has followed our very simple rules and I couldn’t be more proud.

    You might be recruited into M15 for your stealth moves!,

  2. A big milestone….It is so hard to let them go isn’t it. Well done you on your stealth…..hehehe
    My girl walks today every day with friends and I just about cope with that….I let her go to the corner shop a few weeks alone and I was a nervous wreck. It is a 5 minute walk. lol

  3. Phew… This would so be me. My oldest has asked to go to the football pitch at school, it’s a ten minute or so walk, but I’ve not let him venture there yet. I will have to one day I know. Glad it’s not just me. x

    1. It’s so hard but I always wanted NOT to be the parent of that kid who goes wild at 15 because they’ve never been out of your sight before.

  4. This is just brilliant! I know this will be me in a few years! My daughter is six so it’ll be about ten years before I start letting her go out on her own. Right?

  5. You nutter. Although when my daughters did their first ever walk to the corner shop unsupervised I *may* have stood at the front bedroom window with binoculars where, if I stood on a chair, I could see the whole route.

    p.s. I’ve never seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…

  6. I used to dream about one day skipping school and having a day like Ferris Bueller did. Brilliant, brilliant movie. I think you did well waiting as long as you did with Flea – I would have been having kittens. Do you think it’s because we’re so ‘trackable’ and contactable all the time now that the briefest period when we aren’t is difficult to manage? We’d be playing by the river for hours when we were younger but I don’t remember anyone ever fretting about us. I know I would be now though!

  7. I’ll be EXACTLY the same when the times comes. Although I am sure I was much younger when I started popping to the shops by myself…

    Ferris Bueller is a great movie but surely The Greatest Movie of All Time has to be Back to the Future! Oh yes…

  8. This made me laugh so much!!! I’d love to know if my parents ever did this. I do remember one time though before I had a mobile phone, I was about eleven and my best friend (who did have a mobile) and I went to the cinema by ourselves, and we lost each other on the way (we stopped off in Boots, and I got lost…). We eventually found oneanother about half an hour later, but she’d called my mum off her mobile and told her that she’d lost me, so my parents went into panic mode and were apparently running around the town trying to find me! I was more upset about the fact I’d dropped a £1 coin down a drain. Awks.

    C x

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