My inner child
Me and the kids are staying with my mum and dad in Devon for a few nights. Three to be precise. What’s that expression, ‘guests are like fish, they go off after three days’? Something like that. Well, it’s different with your family, isn’t it? Three days is a ridiculously optimistic estimate…
Don’t get me wrong, I adore my mum and dad. They’re just really annoying. This is the conversation I had with Mum at 6.30pm this evening.
Me: ‘I’ve got the kids off to sleep already! Wow, we’ve worn them out. Can I have a glass of wine?’
Mum (sharply): ‘I’m ringing Grandma right now and will you just speak to her?’
Me: ‘For god’s sake! Give me five minutes to chill out, will you?
Mum: ‘She’s an old lady and lonely and she’d love to hear from you.’
Me (bristling): ‘You make it sound like I never speak to Grandma. I love Grandma, I enjoy speaking to her! But now I don’t want to and it’s all your fault.’
I was one more remark off yelling: ‘I hate you! I never asked to be born!’ and storming off to my room. But the kids were snoring away in my bedroom, which reduced its attractiveness as a storming-off sanctuary, and anyway, I’d opened the wine and it was a posh Chablis, the likes of which we don’t drink at home. And, well, I’m 37, with a mortgage and two kids. So I didn’t.
Why is it that coming home to my folks makes me feel (and, let’s face it, act) like a stroppy teenager again? It’s weird – I don’t feel like this when they visit me in my own home; there I am queen of my own castle, but down here it’s a different story. I suppose it’s because I feel like I have to live by their rules, even if it’s only temporary – and god knows, I am a control freak at the best of times. And, of course, family does have that uncanny ability to push all your buttons and wind you up to snapping point in five seconds flat. I’d probably smoke a rebellious fag out the window, if I had any. Even though they make me sick these days. Just to make a point.
Although, having said all this, and despite being in touch with my inner child right now, I was listening to The Smiths yesterday and suddenly realised parenthood gives you a whole different perspective on teen angst. I’m convinced Morrissey wrote ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ as an angry riposte to his mum telling him to stop picking his spots up in his bedroom and go and get a bloody job – ‘leave me alone, Mum, you’re meaner than, like, Caligula.’ He may claim there’s a deeper meaning, but I’m pretty sure it’s that.
Oh well, it’s all cyclical and deep down I know that however much I try to be a cool mum who does loads of fun, interesting stuff with my kids (and I speak as someone who went on a log flume twice today for the entertainment of my son), my kids are going to find me just as annoying one day. My son is going to stop saying dutifully ‘you are, Mummy’ when I demand ‘who’s the most beautiful woman in the whole wide world?’ (Yeah, I nicked it off the Wicked Stepmother in Snow White. She was onto something.) Boo! I love them at this age. I’m going to be sad when they start comparing me to Caligula (although also quite impressed at their classical name-checking.) And, you know, I am cool. I am…
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