Parents seem to have the knack of saying the most annoying things. At least that’s how it was when I was a teenager.
Now I’m a parent, I find myself saying equally annoying things. Which if anything offers a little insight into how my mother must have felt all those years when she couldn’t say anything right.
For example I remember whenever I was going out somewhere maybe to the movies or a party, Mum would always say, ‘Are you going to wear something nice?’
To which I wanted to say (and probably did in so many words), ‘No, I’m going to wear something not nice, something ugly and unflattering because Lord knows being a teenager is so easy and hassle free, why not go ahead and make myself a target for ridicule and rejection.’
Now I can see that Mum was simply interested in what I was going to wear. She didn’t mean to be annoying; she was probably desperately trying to connect with a grumpy teenager.
Then when I was in first year uni and still living at home, Mum would come into my room around 7am and ask what I wanted for dinner that night as she was ‘just getting meat out of the freezer.’
I would scream with annoyance, saying that I didn’t even feel like breakfast let alone dinner! And maybe I might not even be home for dinner!
Even though I probably would be but I just didn’t want to commit myself plus at that time I was no doubt toying with the idea of turning vegetarian.
Needless to say I would always be home for dinner, starving and very grateful for the delicious lamb roast.
I was actually very lucky to be enjoying such rent-free life comforts. Probably shouldn’t have reacted so strongly to Mum’s considerate dinner enquiry.
But now I find myself asking my five-year-old similar questions. ‘What shall we have for dinner tonight? Chops? Chicken?’
Which is worse because a five-year-old doesn’t really care about a meal that is 12 hours away and given the choice would probably opt for ice cream.
She despairs of me - constantly rolling her eyes and correcting my many errors, because what would I know? I’ve only been around for 44 years. But she is five! Almost six! I can’t imagine how life will be when she hits her teens.
However quite often she does put me in my place with good reason. The simple way a child sees the world can sometimes offer clarity and intelligence. It’s frustrating but generally she is right and I am, well, actually quite annoying.
As I found the other night just before bedtime when I said, ‘Now can you do a really big wee please?’ Just to ensure that she got through the night without having to go the toilet or worse.
To which she looked at me calmly and said, ‘Mum, I can only do what I can do.’
Couldn’t really argue with that one.