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We’ve just started the third weekend of having 2son at home.

2son himself has been fine back at home. On the first weekend he went to CATE, on his second visit home he didn’t but he has been quite chirpy and chatty although clearly revelling in not being monitored quite so heavily.

This time we have a multi-coloured timetable for his actions until his return on Monday afternoon, which includes him making a pudding and washing up, as well as getting up at 9 o’clock every morning. He’s already said he has no intention of following it but we will have a go.

It’s the other two I’m really worried about. Five minutes after they walk in through the front door two or three of us are arguing and I don’t honestly see a way out. 3son is very aware that he’s older than 4son and glories in telling him what to do which naturally upsets 4son. 3son is also still incredibly argumentative, very pre-teen but I am losing patience with him.

He jests that I brought him up to speak his own mind and be stubborn which is true. What he doesn’t mention is being brought up to be considerate towards other people and to make compromises, to not always do just what you want to do. Yesterday I said to both of them that they need to think about how we are going to resolve this as I don’t want it to continue for the next five years or so.

One of the issues has been that over the last two or three years as all this developed I started losing my energy and motivation and gradually diminished taking them out in the evenings and at weekends. As they got older they naturally became more able to not need to go out every single day and as I had been taking children out every single day for 15 odd years I revelled in the ability to stay in for 24 hours. I’ve now gone too far the other way and need to put effort into dragging them out more so that at least we’re arguing about something different rather than computer/homework/Wii/Lego.

There is so much effort going into 2son which is great but other than family therapy sessions every three weeks for the rest of, nothing. Family dynamics change when 2son is or isn’t there. 3son is enjoying school so much that he thinks the sun shines out of his arse and he can win any argument with me if he just goes on and on. Then he tells me that he must have won because I’m walking away from him, which I only do when I’m either about to burst into tears or deck him. 4son is still having a miserable time at school and is counting down the days to the end of the year. He can’t cope with 3son’s arguments and storms off in a massive huff, although he does bear some responsibility for needling 3son. 3son throws things when he gets angry without thinking of the consequences.

Of course lots of this would be here even if 2son hadn’t got problems and was still at school but I’m feeling that I’m really struggling to look after all three of them and it’s getting harder. And the weight’s going up again, which is not surprising, but is certainly not helping.