Bossy Kids / Door 24


Like all mums, I would take a bullet for my kids. But let’s be honest, modern parenting is like being an unpaid PA to a group of pushy A-listers. The diva behavior kicks in with puberty. Suddenly you’re expected to offer a 24 hour, on-call service, including chauffeuring, pampering and pandering to exotic food whims involving kale and quinoa with careful menu planning for vegans, celiacs and the lactose intolerant. Every parent I know is marooned in supermarket aisles for hours, scrutinizing the small print of every ingredient, rejecting any packaging that’s not recyclable or any product that contains palm oil. This is all very admirable but it’s extended my quick dash in and out of the shops into a marathon excursion. By the time I finally stagger home, I’ve missed three meal times and am teetering on a glycemic coma.

But boy, can they eat. My off-spring wolf down food as though they’re slaves in Egyptian times, bolstering themselves for day of heavy pyramid building – which is ironic, considering they’ve never lifted a finger around the house without demanding payment as though bosses of some organized crime family.

The trouble is, we’ve spoiled our children rotten. Keen to avoid the authoritarianism of our own parents, since birth our progeny have been nurtured, encouraged and doted on. We’ve responded to their every need, driven them to play dates then parties then clubs. We’ve protected them from every trauma, cushioning them from the harsh realities of life. We’ve endlessly encouraged them with the reassurance that every mediocre thing they ever do is “brilliant” and “amazing”. Our children aren’t ‘seen but not heard’ , they’re seen and never told to shut up. Yet ironically, they insist that we shut up and do as we’re told at all times.

We’re not allowed to do the following in front of them – eat sugar (diabetes) smoke (lung cancer, air pollution) drink alcohol (liver damage, brain cell erosion and just embarrassing behavior) or flirt (beyond cringe-making). We are castigated for wearing leather jackets (animal cruelty) eating shrimp and tuna (effecting ocean biodiversity) or quoting Shakespeare, (patriarchal, cultural imperialism) – no matter how ‘gender fluid’ the Bard’s doublet, hose and puffy pants make him appear.

Yes, today’s parent must constantly police his or her language. It’s the ‘developing world’ not the ‘third world.’ And don’t dare utter ‘mixed race’ – no, it’s ‘dual heritage.’ Nobody is gay, they’re ‘bi-curious’. And if you lose patience with a member of the teenage linguistic Gestapo, they then accuse you of ‘microaggression’ or ‘toxic parenting’.

We can’t even catch an Uber to the pub to drown our sorrows because the company doesn’t pay their drivers properly, apparently, which means I am often left on some cold street corner in the pouring rain, fighting four other bedraggled parents for the one cab on call.

Many parents have taken to meeting in secret to binge on shrimp, ciggies, and vino while swapping off-colour anecdotes, (an Irishman, a Scotsman and a Jew walked into a bar. “What’s this?” asks the bar tender, “some kind of joke?) Then they get an Uber to drop them a block from home in order to pretend to judgmental progeny that they walked all the way. (Carbon footprint.)

It’s no wonder kids never leave home these days. Their parents are cowed, their washing and ironing done, the fridge full and utility bills all magically paid. But enough is enough. Perhaps it’s time we adopted our parents’ golden rule – Out The Door By Twenty-four.

But how? It’s no good arguing with your offspring – negotiating with terrorists is completely pointless. Perhaps the easiest way to get our kids to fly the nest is to close up The Bank of Mum and Dad, while possibly also wearing a t-shirt, sloganed “I had sex with my husband and all I got was this lousy kid.” Or simply point out that if they don’t start doing more around the house, you’re going to leave them at the orphanage with a note pinned to their pajamas reading “Please recycle.” An even more effective ploy is to warn lazy offspring that if they don’t do more housework, you’ll crash their next party and belly-dance, while lip-synching lyrics and acting out the song with hand puppets.

I’m going to get tougher on them, I really am….just as soon as I whip up this anti-oxidant superfood salad of exotic, imported fungi and erect a Yurt in the backyard for a vegan sleep-over….

So, yes, I love my kids, but I’m definitely searching for a loophole in their birth certificates!

P.S. If you’d like more comedic whinging about motherhood, then do try a couple of my novels, perhaps To Love, Honour and Betray and Courting Trouble.

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