'YOU'RE not going out dressed like that.'
'I am. What's wrong with it?'
'What's wrong with it? The neckline is way too low and the skirt is way too short! It's a bit slutty!'
I stare at my younger daughter and roll my eyes.
'First of all, that's the sort of thing I'm supposed to say to you! You're not supposed to tell me what to wear.'
She peers at me over gorgeous, hipster spectacles.
'I have to, when you appear in something like that, Mum. I'm trying to save you from making a show of yourself.'
The husband and I are going to some friends for dinner. There will be six of us in total. Old friends, catching up. I'm really looking forward to it. Or at least I was, until about two minutes ago.
Part of the problem, of course, is Christmas. To be more specific, the fact that we're barely through the other side. And I'm still carrying all those extra seasonal pounds. The dress - the little black number that I've had, since my offspring were too young to notice what I wore - is stretchy. Which is why I'm wearing it tonight.
And I've dressed it down. This is a casual enough get together with friends, after all. I'm wearing a skinny black top underneath, so her accusation that my neckline is too low is a moot point. Ditto the hemline. I'm wearing ribbed tights. With boots! It's all very Boho.
'Have you a nice skirt and top you could wear, Mum?' Her tone is the same one that the husband uses when he's asking the eldest if she'll be warm enough, as she heads out clubbing. Just before he tries to persuade her to wear a cardigan.
The fact that she looks exactly the same as I used to at her age has completely escaped him.
'I'm sure I have a nice skirt and top,' I tell our middle child. 'But I'm wearing this. Get over yourself.'
'Fine.' She goes upstairs. Bloody cheek, I think. I look....great. And my hair is definitely working. I had it professionally styled yesterday. No, I look grand. Really. The husband appears, jacket on, car keys in hand.
'You right?' says he.
'We're off, you lot. See you later!' I check on the boy, who's curled up in front of the TV, being minded by the eldest. The middle one comes running down the stairs, just as we go to leave.
'Wait, Mum. You're going to need this.'
'What is it?'
She thrusts something soft, long and floaty into my arms.
'It'll look great with that outfit,' she says. Her eyes plead with mine.
I sigh, and take the damned cardigan.
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