I reckon, when you become a parent you become chopped liver, redundant, pointless. You no longer mean anything…
…to your own parents.
Let me explain. Or let me put something to you.
If you’re lucky enough to have parents that are alive, and you have kids, ask your mum or dad this question: If me and the kids were in a burning building, and you could only rescue the kids or me, who would it be?
In essence, in a nutshell, in brief, in outline, to sum up… I put it to you that they would say, regretfully, the children. You’re fired.
I say this because when you’re in the company of your parents, and your own children, you become invisible.
An example: your parents are looking after your children for the day. You say as you leave “Please don’t give them any sweets or fizzy drinks.” You return to see the children chewing on a Mars bar, drinking Fanta and swinging from the lampshade. You turn to your mum. “I said…” Before you can even finish the sentence you hear “Ohhh, they’re not here often. Besides, they were very good and helped me with the shopping”. This before one of your children hits the other with a baguette.
“Don’t hit your sister” you shout. Nothing. The beating continues. But YOUR parent says all sweetly and softly “Darling, stop hitting your sister and bring me the french bread please” and guess what? THEY. DO. AS. THEY. WERE. ASKED. THE LITTLE FUCKERS HAVE THE FUCKING AUDACITY TO DO AS YOUR MUM SAYS AT THE FIRST TIME OF ASKING! You usually have to scream yourself hoarse to stop one from putting the other in the washing machine but they just… I think I need a lie down. I’m actually a useless parent. My parents know it and that’s why my children hate me.
Another example. Your child crawls near a plug socket, or near the Christmas lights, you say “Don’t do that you could hurt yourself.” Ohhh, they’re EXPLORING says your mum. And on they crawl, flashing lights in their mouth, just as you predicted. But do they swallow anything? No! They’re happy as their head lights up and flashes repeatedly. And your mum puts it on Facebook Live. No-one dies, apart from your self-respect as the damn thing goes viral and Christmas Lights In Mouth Baby gets 47,000,000 likes.
It works the other way too. YOU think it’s fine for them to play in the street on their scooter, as it’s quiet and hardly any cars go past, but your parent remembers a story about a child in 1977 who died when a cement mixer went down the road, the only vehicle to have ever driven down that road, and killed them to death. Peter Spatchcock died because they dropped cement on him or run him over… either way. It’s “Come in children and have some Fanta and a Mars Bar” which again, they do at the first time of asking and again consume against your wishes to which you’re told, “OHHH they’re not here next weekend and they hardly have any sweets at home now, do they?” pointedly.
There is no resistance. Your powers are useless here.
I rememember having a sore throat when I was a kid. Tonsillitis it was, and they came out soon after. I was due to go out for the day with my grandad but mum said I was too unwell.
My grandad turned up at the door. “Oh dad, he’s not well” she said.
Not well? I had my coat on, my shoes on and was standing behind my mum with a scarf wrapped around my neck.
“Ahh Patsy, to be sure he looks fine” he said. He was Irish.
Mum said “Don’t give him any sweets” as he’s not very well. I was grey, sweating and couldn’t speak but I had the broadest smile on my face ‘cos, you know. It was my granddad.
So out I went. I loved going out with my granddad. He allowed me to be a kid and I didn’t have to worry about all that adult bullshit mum threw at me. I miss him to this day, but know that if he had lived longer he’d be 99. I know while people don’t live forever, their memory does.
Grandad gave me a packet of Opal Fruits on the bus, which we shared. That day, as ill as an ill child could be, I ran around the children’s playground in Hyde Park, swung on the Witches hat, made up stories of the adventures in the Magic Fairy Tree and pretended to be the bus driver on the way home. When I got home, I was finishing my last sweet. Mum said to my granddad “I told you not to give him any sweets”
“Ahh Patsy to be sure it made him feel better.” He was Irish remember. And he was right. I was. I felt great. I was bouncing on the bed singing The Sun Has Got His Hat On.
So yeah, when you get a moment, ask your parents the question. If you could only rescue one thing from a burning building who would it be, me or the kids? And brace yourself for the answer.
Thanks for reading.