Thursday, 7 July 2011
Madam, Your Children Are Unruly And You Are A Disgrace. And Did You Enjoy Ireland?
Madam, You And Your Children Are Unruly. How Was Ireland?
Madam, Fate says this morning, Your Children Are Unruly. Yes, I say, I think you are right.
I wonder how many mothers live like this. We have our selection of children, we have one, or two, or three or more, and we do our best. We get on with raising them and hope that they are all still there and breathing at the end of each day, that they will go to bed and sleep like the cherubs we hope they are, somewhere deep inside their subconcious. We need to keep tabs on each child as they grow, because they know that they know best. We were born, they think, fully formed as adults and know nothing about life and are really stupid. The older they get, our little babies, the taller they get. And in my case, I ended up with tall, glorious and powerful children, one of which is tall enough to use me as an elbow rest. For that child in question today, with the height comes power, and with this sense of power comes the lust for battle and with the lust for battle comes regular punch ups. It is as if I am looking after a toddler who is the size of Godzilla. But Godzilla, King Kong, The Terminator, Thor the Thunder God didn't understand that they didn't have to thwack things and flatten whole cities when they were annoyed. No one was there to tell them not to. A chat with an understanding adult may have helped. A game of rugby, a round of boxing in a gym, a bit of time spent on a survival course in the North Sea, anything but Incidents Outside School where there are no sensible adults (or kids) to say Go Home You Fool.
Madam, said the school this morning, your son has not turned up for class. Are you aware of the Incident Outside School yesterday? And having got one furious, resentful and disgusted offspring off to London yesterday from where I am to be disowned as a punishment for being alive and wrong, I wake up this morning to the next furious resentful child thinking My Turn Now! Watch This!
Yes, I say to the school, I know about the Incident Outside School. I feel that waves and waves of consequences are coming. Gird Your Loins, I say to myself in the mirror, Life Has Its Ups And Downs, And This Is Another Down. By implication, an Up will follow, so I paint my toenails red and say Bring It On. We Have Done All This Before, We Will Do It Again. And I think, this is my youngest child that is on this rocky path, and when he is grown up, I don't have any other younger Visigoths In Waiting. It will then be time to hire a camper van with my old school pals Caroline, Sarah, Sharon and Vicky and go in a convoy to the ends of the earth where everyone is sensible and fun and before anyone hits anyone else, they have a jolly good chat and a cup of tea, tell each other some really funny jokes, and sort it out.
When my kids play up, I feel as if I were to blame. I feel the unspoken words at the end of every phone call about them is And You Madam, Are A Disgrace. I feel that I missed important signals that they needed help. I feel that they must have been trying to tell me that things were not right and that I merrily ignored them. I was too busy chatting to friends about the meaning of life and what constitutes a great blueberry muffin while my darlings were agonising over whether to bash so and so or not, or whether to furiously disown me until they needed more money, to teach me a lesson for being so embarrassing. Maybe my dear Boxing Boy, my youngest son who is trying out Thuggery as a bargaining tool, longs for something I am not giving him. Maybe I should allow him to do Junior Cage Fighting. Maybe not. I feel the frustration of those who have to deal with the misdemeanours of my kiddies, and long to say I Am A Disgrace. I Am Sorry. We Are All A Disgrace.
Ireland was not a disgrace. Ireland was absolutely wonderful. Briefly, I took my Furiously Independent Son to Dublin for his birthday, and stayed with Darling Dublin Friend and her husband, The Nicest Man In Ireland. We joined the Husband and about 28 other Dubliners and their children, and went up a mountain in Co. Wicklow, where we camped for a magical midge infested night. The next morning, we woke (those of us who slept) and having packed up, left the stream by which we had become a Midge Banquet, and walked down as a tired, happy and very dishevelled bunch of campers to end up at one of the camper's homes where his wife had made us all a special gourmet breakfast. I will never taste better food. There were over 100 pancakes, which the kids finished before us adults could say Guinness Loaf. The lady in question is a trained chef, and is probably the best cook in the world. To me. Now.
I was too, the only Mum to go on this camping holiday. I put my name down with huge excitement and asked no questions at all. It turns out that all the Dads went with their kids, and all the Mums stayed behind with a view to visiting each other for an almighty knees up before helping out with the mammoth breakfast the next day. It should have been obvious. What Irish Mum would choose to go up a mountain for a night with midges and dirt and their husbands while the kids go quietly ferral, when they don't have to?
The Dads had fab tents, equipment and know-how. Darling Dublin Friend lent me her tent and when I unpacked it, I was not only the only Mum, I was the only one with a cow tent.
Madam, you are not a disgrace, you have slept on a mountain in Wicklow in a Cow Tent. And your children are not a disgrace either. They just need time, a padded cell and to join the army. Fear not, Lady Artist, all this shall pass and one day you will be in a camper van far far away telling jokes and drinking tea with the Bedouin with all your friends in camper vans of their own. Cow camper vans.