Saturday, May 13, 2006

2005-08-28 063 OptimismAren't parents great?

You know when you arrange to meet them, in fact you actually move things around so you can? And then they don't ring to say they're leaving, but that probably means they left late and were in a bit of hurry, and they'll ring me when they get to London? And then they still haven't rung, but maybe they're on the Tube, although if I supposed to be meeting them, I'd have to be on the Tube at the same time as them, oh, but I'm sure they'll ring in a minute? They must be nearly here though, so I'd only annoy them if I rang to ask "Are you nearly here yet?" so I'll wait a bit longer, although isn't it getting a bit late? And then the phone rings, and it's my mother, and oh wow what a surprise, they haven't left yet, they're about to leave, they're having a row while she's still on the phone to me, they're not coming, my mother's blaming him but I can hear the television in the background, which sort of suggests she's watching it, which means she'd got up first, usually solely for the purposes of allowing her "and who got up first" points in the ensuing arguments (should the first act of one's day be a pre-emptive act of warfare?), and then sat round waiting for my father to get up, then became ensconced in front of the thing, and annoyed by my father saying he's ready and asking if she is, to which she'll answer in the dismissively affirmative, which can be taken to mean she's nearly ready, nearly being used in the same sense as our family uses lightly, which stems from some washing my father put in the airing cupboard, which he described as "lightly crumpled", so my father will abandon all hope of moving in the next hour, get coffee, go off to buy papers, return, sit reading the paper, which my mother will take to mean that he's not ready yet, and if he's not ready yet, then why should she be, and at some point she'll accuse him of drinking coffee (and therefore all that stands for), cue the first rally of rowing, then comes a sulk, although they've been doing it so long neither actually bother to sulk anymore, and simply go back to whatever it was they were doing, then another row, this time involving something which happened in 1979, to which my father no longer deigns to respond, simply carrying on with the crossword and asking if it was Leda with the swan, can she think of the name of a mask which is three-somethings-u-something-something-s-something, which may or may not be worse than what he used to do, or may simply be an extension of it, as there was a long period when in any argument my father would be guaranteed to say the worst possible thing in response to any comment from my mother (I was never sure if this was intentional), and they're back to arguing, only now she's citing some woman she doesn't like from aquaerobics, but pretending she does like her because my father thinks the extraneous woman is an idiot, a view cultivated from only receiving my mother's interpretation of her, which sort of suggests my mother thinks that too, and sooner or later, is it mask the noun or verb, because -s- is either ise or ism, the topic will shift again, resurrecting the who-got-up-first, and if she's not careful, she'll end up using "and another thing" which is shorthand for this argument is now null and void, not that it stops the argument, merely rules out the conclusion of any of the separate arguments in it, botulism maybe, because of botox, have you watered the begonias, the last signalling the end of the argument because my father has, and therefore potentially overwatered them, or hasn't, and so droughted them (in this family one can never just "water"; it always comes with equal doses of error and blame, which are our Miracle-Gro and Baby-Bio), then my mother will have to go and check on them, and thereby get cross with the garden for daring to take advantage of her erratic presence, and my father will start playing his guitar or listening to something on Radio 3, and thus isolating them both for over an hour (my mother taking the view the Devil's Music is all of it), at some point they might remember they were supposed to be going to London to meet one, possibly both, of their sons, only they don't feel like it now, but rather than say they can't be bothered, and London's such a hassle, and they always get too hot and tired, they'll say the other one didn't get up which shows he or she can't be bothered, the other one finds London confusing and stressful (despite one having lived here and the other worked here), the other one always gets too hot which makes him or her cross, the other one gets tired so easily, so always wants to stop for coffee, which is a pain (it's true, my father's first act on arriving anywhere is to stop for food and drink [neither of which he needs], which given how long he takes, means nothing ever gets done. It's not unknown for parts of the party to disappear off to do 4 disparate things and come back only slightly flurried to find him in the same place, nursing the dregs), so it's all the other one's fault really, and the speaker can't really come on their own, can they, to which if one answers yes, they respond that it is a bit late now, because the other one held them up, and so if they'd been on their own they would have come, and there will be next time, although not then, nor then, nor then, and whatever it is we were going to see finishes before then, so maybe leave it until his, her, your birthday, that alright?

And of course it isn't really, as I've moved things round to fit them in, and now have gaping void, half of which has been used up doing nothing waiting for them, and the exhibition I wanted to go to, that I put off seeing because I was going to see it with them, will finish before I get another chance to go, as I won't be able to find anyone else to go, and while I could go on my own, it's always more fun and more informative to go with someone else (even if it is to engage in mutual sarcasm).

So when two adults prefer to indulge in mutual blame for inaction rather than actually do anything, that's parenthood, right? Or just marriage? Or even simply coupledom?

And yes, they were once overheard by my brother and I to claim that they were staying together for the children, which at the time seemed to us a woefully misguided strategy (although in retrospect, I'm not sure I could ever stand living with just the one).

It's hardly surprising they worry about my brother wearing himself out, given how much overcompensates (whereas I tend to alternate between submission, so not doing anything and getting miserable and annoyed about it, or rebellion, and so doing everything I possibly can, which usually means coming back late, too late to cook, and then remembering I haven't quite had time to think about eating. Thank God for apples, or failing that, Hob-Nobs). It's also to be expected that both of us have on occasion got infuriated by the endless delays and so stood asking questions until we get truthful answers, and then commanded our parents to go and get their earrings or close the greenhouse, to do whatever myriad pending jobs they are using as an excuse for doing nothing, then get them out and in the car, where they both look surprised to be out of the house in under quarter of an hour, where they promptly start arguing over the route, worrying they've left the door unlocked (so what if we have? We went away for a fortnight and came back to find it ajar, but nothing had noticeably happened, except for a few scattered bits of paper near the door, where the wind had caught them. Who is going to walk up and try the door? And if it's open, that usually means someone's in, either painting the dining room and trying to get rid of the smell, or it's too hot inside, or they're having a party, or a pipe burst and they're trying to dry the carpet, or they're hidden somewhere in the garden) or my mother demands that the radio, suddenly spewing shrieking woman once the ignition is turned on, is turned off, which causes a row because it's obvious my father has booby trapped the car with Wagner to spite her, just like his pettiness in moving the seat from where she left it.

If they were the same height I'd bang their heads together. Very occasionally I'll be so annoyed that I'd drive them, and scare them in the process by combining my mother's speed with my father's steering and land positioning for the first ten minutes (which is something of feat in itself, if driving the Skoda, where the accelerator works on a binary system of "standby engine" and "dead slow" [with occasional incidences of "stop" for good measure]). It is worrying when I find myself thinking that if I can handle my parents, then children will be a doddle. Unfortunately it's probably true (although children don't generally realise how driving is supposed to be done, so I can safely drop the less-safe scare tactics).

So once again I ask, aren't the parents the greatest thing since sliced bread (although not Morrisson's Wholemeal, which apparently must constitute an entire meal, otherwise it's liable under the Trade Descriptions act, as it manages to be the whitest brown bread known to mankind)?

Think that's enough ranting for now.


Just think, if it weren't for parents, you wouldn't have written this post, which, forgive me for saying, as you were most probably upset when writing it, is rather amusing from an outsiders view. (Pardon for excessive commaging)

My view is that as parents raise their children, somewhere along the lines they become more child-like as their children become more mature.

I find myself sorting out the arguments often, sending one to the corner and repremanding the other.
But married couples/parents bicker, Its what they do.
Don't let it get you down.
I'm just going to carefully elide the whole procreation question. I vaguely knew it was funny, or at least has the potential to be if it's not happening to you.

(Pardon for excessive commaging) An inability to use proper punctuation is a heinous... oh, hang on, moving swiftly on.

So how do grandparents fit into the rise and fall of maturity? Do you think parents become infected by childhood, or simply if one is a child, one doesn't notice the childishness of one's parents?
I've had my Grandma, my Grandma's sister and my Mum visiting me this weekend. My grandma was talking about how well her and Grandad got on etc. which prompted my Mum to tell of the time when they didn't speak to each other for an entire week. In the end my Mum and her elder brother decided they'd had enough. They decided to have a massive row, so Grandma came to stop it, as did Grandad. As they started talking to one another to try and sort out my Mum and her brother, my Mum and her brother quietly slipped away and left them to it. End of arguement :) So the moral of the story is, yes by all means bang their heads together in whatever way works best :) You never know you might get a result!
See, I just throw a grandchild at my mother when something like this starts up. It's not worth it otherwise.
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