Blueberry Muffins and…’I’ve Left School, Mum’

It’s hard to tell teenagers (or even adults) that times of darkness do pass and a new day will dawn.

When the children were very little I’d worry about them especially if I left them at home with a babysitter while we went out for the night.  Are they in bed?  Is everything okay?  Have they gone off to sleep?

But really, when you know they’re at home, sound asleep and tucked up in their beds, that is when you absolutely don’t need to worry.

No-Fuss Blueberry Muffins

Because then they grow up and there’s a reversal in the situation where suddenly you are the one at home, lying in bed trying to sleep but unable to because your little children are now teenagers and they’re out, out of the house, gone.  And lying in your bed you stress over who they’re with and what they’re doing and how will they be getting home and when will they be home.

When it was time for Archie to go to high school, we sent him to boarding school.  He hated it.  He’d come home every weekend and tell us he didn’t want to go back but with a tough love approach, every Sunday night we sent him back saying, ‘It will get better’, ‘You’ll thank me when you’re older’, ‘You’ll look back and say, ‘These were the best days of my life’.’  But Archie wasn’t convinced.  He was lonely, ostracised and bullied.

When Archie had been at the school around 18 months I went to bed safe in the knowledge that all my children, (even though Archie was not under the same roof), were tucked up in bed and sound asleep.  At 1.50am my mobile phone rang.  I was instantly jolted from a deep and restful sleep to a state of panic.  Who could be ringing?  What’s happened?  Who’s in trouble?

A Yummy Breakfast for School Boys

When I answered the phone all I could hear was horrendous traffic noise and the beeping and braking of large trucks.  I said, ‘Hello?’  And a voice came back, ‘It’s Archie.  I’ve left school mum’.

And I sat bolt upright.  Archie!  Where is he?  What’s he doing?  Why isn’t he in bed at school?  ‘What do you mean you’ve left school?’

‘I hate the school mum, so I’ve left.  I’m walking home, I should be home by morning.’

We lived an hour’s drive from the school.  ‘Where are you?’

‘I’m on the freeway?’

That is not a safe place to be especially at that hour of the night when you’re 13 years old and you’re on your own.  ‘You’re on the freeway and you’re walking?’


‘Does anyone know you’ve left?’

‘No, I waited until the Master in Charge left the building and then I walked out.’

Carl was getting out of bed and throwing on a tracksuit.  ‘Tell him to get off the freeway and head to the nearest petrol station and I’ll meet him there.’

Apparently Archie had been walking for two hours.  He went to bed and someone did something or said something and Archie just snapped.  He’d had enough.  That’s when he decided he was leaving.  He didn’t pack anything or take anything with him, not even money.  He was wearing his Corp uniform and he took his phone but that was just about out of battery.

Because Archie had only been on the freeway for a short time we asked him to turn around and head back to the nearest exit and walk to where we knew there was a 24-hour service station.  Carl drove off in his car and phoned Archie and kept him on the phone until he found him at the service station.  He bought Archie a drink and they sat down and had a talk about it and what it was that had triggered such an impulsive and dangerous and ill-thought out plan.

It was about 4am when Carl came through the door with Archie.  I was still wide awake.

We let Archie sleep-in the next morning while we rang the boarding master who was already well aware that Archie was missing.

We went to the school that day for a series of meetings.  Archie was allowed the rest of the day off and told to go home for the weekend and that he could choose a boy from his boarding house to come home with him.  Archie didn’t have any friends at the boarding house but he chose a boarder from the country and that boy was told to leave class, pack his things and come back to our home for the weekend.

The school told Archie that over the weekend he was to think about whether or not he wanted to return to the school.  We let it be Archie’s decision.

And Archie decided he would give it one more try.

And he’s very glad he did.  The early days were rough but they passed and Archie ended up loving his school days.  He had many wonderful and happy years and is so pleased to have gone there and graduated.

And as for the boy Archie brought home for the weekend?  He became Archie’s best mate and Arabella’s boyfriend!

Archie now knows, dark days don’t last forever.

When Archie would come home for the weekend I would ask him what is was he would like me to cook.  He often asked me to cook these No-Fuss Blueberry Muffins for him for breakfast.

Have you had the ‘middle of the night’ phone call?

No-Fuss Blueberry Muffins

Warm blueberry muffins served with butter

Makes:  12

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  These are inexpensive compared with what you would pay for a very inferior muffin at a bakery

  • 2 cups SR flour
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries

In a large bowl combine flour and sugar and mix well.  In a smaller bowl combine vegetable oil, eggs and sour cream.  Mix well then pour into the bowl with the flour and sugar and mix well.  Add frozen blueberries and stir gently.

Spoon mixture into muffin tins and place in a 180C/375F oven for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes before removing from the tin.

Serve warm with butter.

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This recipe has been adapted from Donna Hay’s, Off the Shelf




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  1. I remember that night like it was yesterday……. He’s a trooper and I love him dearly.

  2. That’s awesome how the boy ended up being Archie’s best mate and wow, your daughter’s boyfriend – too cool!

    Haha I’m not a mother yet so I haven’t had to deal with 2am phone calls apart from the stupid drunken ones from friends and whatnot. But I guess mothers will always be mothers – I’m turning 27 this year and my mum still worries like crazy!

  3. A lovely story! An awesome ending.

    Your muffins look amazing!



  4. I’m covered in goosebumps reading Archie’s story. I’m so glad he was safe. I can’t begin to imagine how worried you were before he was picked up.

    That said, Yummy muffins!! I need them after those goosebumps. 🙂

  5. That must have been so hard to tell Archie that it would get better when he was clearly upset…I think I would have been sick with worry! Well done!

  6. Thanks for the reminder that dark days pass – I’ve had a horrible day and am looking forward to treating myself with some blueberry-muffin-esq comfort food tomorrow. 😉

  7. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. On Chelsea’s 1st night at college (the 1st time she – or any of my children – had been “away-away”), there were many texts through the night. Mike asked me, very nicely, if there was a point in the evening where the phone could be switched off till morning. I looked at him and said, “No. Not for the next 4 years.” And he understood. So yes, there have been middle of the night calls. And middle of the meeting/doctor appointment/dinner party/manicure/etc. You talk them through and hope that your words – far away and disconnected as they seem – help. Great post.

  8. Oh, yes we’ve had them. I hate that jolt out of a deep sleep and the instant feeling of panic. Kids – it’s no wonder I have to dye the grey out of my hair.

  9. I’ve never had a phone call like that from a child (since I don’t have any) but I’ve had similar ones from my sisters. Thank goodness it always works itself out and I have cash on hand to get them home safely!

  10. That was such a chilling story! I’m so glad he was safe and how well things turned out in the end. 🙂

    I don’t have kids of my own yet but I can totally understand how you feel. My brother is about 10 years younger than me and to him, I’m like a younger mother. I’ve had early morning calls from him asking whether mum and dad’s asleep yet and he needed to get picked up from somewhere. I can imagine how I would feel a number of years down the track when my own children will do the same…

  11. Oh, you must have been so scared. (Though I have to say that I am impressed with Archie for being so brave as to take matters into his own hands.) We haven’t gotten any middle-of-the-night calls because, as Firstborn would say, we never let her go anywhere or do anything. But that time is coming. I am so glad that this story has a happy ending.

  12. That’s not at all the ending that I was expecting! What a good mum you are.

  13. Wow that’s a pretty scary story to receive a call at 1:30am in the morning and it’s from your son! Thank gosh he had a mobile phone and he actually called you and didn’t just run away to a friends house or anything ~

    And i’m glad Archie ended up liking the school and his best friend became Arabella’s boyfriend 🙂 Are they still together?~

    OOO i love easy recipes 🙂 And those from Donna Hay are usually pretty easy and inexpensive woo hoo~ Thanks for sharing!

  14. I was glued reading this … glued and wondering what would come next … sometimes right, other times not … and the end brought a smile – and it’s not because of the blueberries.

  15. What a terrifying story, Charlie; things can seem so unproportionately huge at that age, it’s really great that you and Carl are so supportive. The berry muffins look great. Donna Hay is certainly an inspiration to us all…it was her ‘natural daylight’ approach that influenced this decade’s food photography trend.

  16. Being a mom must be so hard… My brother went to a boarding school once too, three weeks after he was back home, he couldn’t stand it. I went 10 months to Michigan and I didn’t see my family for those months, I think that the fact that it was my own decision was what made me have a great time, I miss my days there so much…

  17. Bless Archie’s heart. It is so hard to let kids know that all will be well. My son had a dark day or two when he spend his last year of high school studying abroad in France. He spoke English and Spanish, but no French when he landed with his family in Brittany. He later confessed that for one night he felt like he had made a huge mistake and just couldn’t handle it, then he settled in for the best year of his life. Ahh, the wisdom of time…

    The muffins look great!

  18. Oh my goodness, you really have had your fair share of hair raising situations with your kids! Kudos to you for handling everything so well all of the time! The only wake up call I have received is from my neighbour when she went into labour and her husband was away on a business trip so had to get her to the hospital – it was either that or deliver her baby which would not have been a good idea.
    Fabulous muffins.
    🙂 Mandy

  19. Oh my gosh, it’s a good thing I never had children…I don’t think I would have survived it! You’ve inspired me to make some muffins this weekend…yours love divine!

  20. I’m glad the story had a happy ending for Archie. And the blueberry muffins must have been a comforting treat for him. Does he still ask for them?

  21. This story brings tears to my eyes. We sent our son to boarding school for high school as well. He never really liked it. He came home every weekend. I’m not sure if now, two years out, he has still come to terms with the school. It was a math and science school, and I know he learned so much being there, but he wasn’t really much like the other kids. I know he likes his college friends much better. It was technically “his” decision to attend the school, but I think he felt pressured. It’s so hard when you think you are helping your children, but they are unhappy. We all just do the best we can, don’t we?

  22. Not yet, how heart stoppingly terrible. I would have panicked. They get so emotional at that age. I had hard enough trouble getting mine on the bus to highschool on the first term. Nice story, I will try the muffins ( please)

  23. I’m glad Archie gave it another try. Not only did he learn a great lesson but he found a good friend. Looks like things worked out well for everyone. Now, about these muffins. I love ’em. I’ve never used sour cream in the batter but I have used regular milk or buttermilk. Thanks for the tip. I’ll be sure to try it.

  24. Your happy ending made me cry! I think we’ve all had trying times with our children.

    PS…your muffins look fabulous!!

  25. Good on Archie for sticking it out for the long run. It shows great strength of character, and I’m sure he can draw on these negative experiences for his dramatic career.
    Yummy muffins, I sure love blueberries but my bushes only produce a handful at a time 🙁

  26. Long haul. It can be such a long haul being a teenager. I’m glad Archie came out of it so well, you and Carl should be very proud, Charlie. Sounds like the school were wonderful too!

  27. Wow – that’s quite a story, and not the ending I expected – I just assumed he was done – that’s great it all worked out. I have to admit, that here in the States, we rarely do the boarding school thing. I guess some people on the East Coast maybe do and maybe there’s a few in California that I’m not aware of, but otherwise, no. It’s such a different concept – I can’t imagine doing it!

  28. I got a bit teary with your story, but the pictures of the muffins calmed me down. We have had a few calls recently that make us nervous from my stepson – it tears your heart out. I am the guilty sister for calling my parents crying from halfway around the world – my first international trip. I never really understood how much that must have terrified them. Now I truly do.

  29. Charlie.. I loved reading this story. I remember walking out of school like Archie did.. but it wasn’t at night and my mother nearly exploded when I told her I left because I didn’t like that I got passed over for an opportunity at school. This story definitely reminded me of that. Archie definitely had spunk an character back then, and even though I know it scared you, it’s a great trait to have :). Love these muffins 🙂

  30. WOW!! I know how you feel.
    Any phone calls after a certain time just aren’t good. I am pleased it turned out well.
    Motherhood is full of these moments 😉
    Looks like you have done a great job 🙂

  31. Hun some of your posts seriously rip at my heart and this one was definitely in that category. I am yet to have those middle of the night calls. I am a few years off I hope 🙂 but for now I dread the calls from the school, who’s broken what lol I think you know the drill 🙂 xx

  32. I was so nervous when I started reading. You write really good story Charlie. After becoming a mom, I get more emotional when I hear about someone’s child or something happens to them…. I’m so glad everything turned out well…and these muffins. Special mom’s muffins. They look really delicious and I love the story behind the food. Thank you so much for sharing.

  33. Poor kid! My first few years at high school were horrible, but the last 3 or so were awesome and I look back on them fondly 🙂

  34. The blueberry muffins are gorgeous! You know what? I kept on hearing that school was supposed to be the best period of my life and I hated it from the pre-school until the end of University… (And i wasn’t in a boarding school!)

  35. “Inferior muffin at a bakery” Oh yes, we all know about them:( I always want to give them ‘one more try’ in the hope that the baker has changed…but they’re always horrible.

    I am happy that everything worked out for Archie:)

  36. Magnolia Verandah says:

    I bet your heart was in your mouth (sorry about the pun). Blueberry muffins would certainly make anyone feel better.

  37. Archie obviously learned the value of resilience and tenacity and not giving up easily very early in life, much sooner than most of us it seems. That must have been a heart-wrenching time. I love home made muffins, but would never buy one, they are usually horrible, especially so many of the ones sold at coffee bars – UGH. Yours however looks so delicious. I may be ‘borrowing’ this recipe too 🙂

  38. Oh boy what fun I have to look forward to when I have kids!

    These muffins look lovely no wonder they were requested often.

  39. Aah, what fun – all this too look forward to one day! I think I’d be worried sick 🙁

    I love the look of these muffins – so jam-packed full of wonderful blueberries. A real weekend treat no doubt!

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