This picture drawn by my friend’s seven-year-old at school the other day made me cry with laughter; a perfect smiley Mummy brandishing a large glass of red, proclaiming: “Let’s get drunk!”
I’m not sure what the teacher thought - hopefully she didn’t call social services. But it got me thinking about how, despite our best efforts to be the “perfect” parent, our kids will see the bigger picture. And is there anything wrong with that? In these politically correct times, we might long to be “normal” but a wise psychotherapist once summed up that pipe-dream:
“Normal is a washing cycle.”
As a laundry fanatic, I have to agree.
We are bombarded with images of families having a perfect walk, a perfect holiday and generally, a perfect life, eating five a day, not overindulging ever and probably dying of boredom or not speaking to each other when they get home.
When my kids were very little, I sat one Sunday morning in a park by the River Thames, fighting that gritty-eyed tiredness monster and watching enviously as a dad cycled in, took his baby son out of the little seat on the back of his bike, bought a coffee and read the papers while bouncing his beautiful offspring on his knee.
Oh God. He was a perfect father.
He exercised, he looked after his child. He was in a park at the weekend – and he wasn’t moaning about it or too tired from the week’s work to even get out of bed.
Then, just as I was practically drooling over him, his wife hove in to view, red-faced, flustered, dragging their three-year-old and her trike. I couldn’t hear too much of what she was saying over the child’s screams but it went a bit like this: “Where the HELL have you been? Why did you ride off like that when you could see Felicity couldn’t manage her trike and I was struggling to push it! You just went off and left us.”
My eyes narrowed to little slits of hatred. He shifted uncomfortably.
The selfish bastard! Illusion shattered.
I gave his wife a look of extreme sympathy.
Sharing so much on social media probably only makes the situation more acute. Are we good looking enough, funny enough? Sometimes our children have the answer - we are perfect enough for them, as the drawing of my mate shows. They also don’t have a filter, which can hurt sometimes: “Mummy, in Victorian times, when you were young…”
More recently, in my house...
Child: “Is it normal for women to have a moustache?”
Me: “No, not really…”
Child: “Well, you have got one.”
Let’s just hope he doesn’t draw a picture of me for the teacher.