Sunday, 27 January 2008

"Yummy Kids" January 27

I always imagined that when my kids grew up into adults I would never see them. Pretty much like when I grew up, left home and got busy. I’ve talked to them at length about the great disappearing act of my generation but they’re not getting the hints and have continued to hang out at home. I quite liked having them around until I realised there is a distressing trend for parents with adult children to include them in their best mate circle. These once tiny little moppets with smelly nappies and food in the hair are suddenly the drinking buddy, travelling companion, confidante and cool flatmate.
“We do everything together,” gush these parents. “We just all get on so well and like the same things. Gosh some weekends it’s one big party at our house, you’d think we were still flatting!” they giggle outrageously.
Please don’t’ ever let me be one of them. I would rather swim naked across Cook Strait than wake up one morning and realise that I spent 21 years raising my children so that I could spend the next 20 years hanging out with them because my life is so empty.
God forbid the former little shits of these other parents should ever leave home and force their parents to spend time alone, getting to know each other again, walking around naked and having sex whenever they like, wherever they like before gorging on takeaways for two. Which will never happen because getting to know each other again just seems so boring when you have a constant stream of youth through your house teaching you how to use an iPhone and introducing you to music other than Steely Dan. You are mainlining cool 24/7 by association thanks to your yummy kids. And the kids are so onto it they have no intention of leaving home in the next decade. In our generation we left home to have sex, not so with this generation whose partners are welcomed with open arms into the family home and bedrooms. More the merrier you cool bundles of adulthood. Couple this liberalism with the free booze, free rent, free food, free overseas trips in return for a few hours of drunken rambling by their aging parents about how disappointing their life turned out to be and you have what we oldies term a win win situation.
I’m guilty of some of the above. I do drink with my adult children occasionally and pay for the booze. We even take them out to dinner and took them all to Paris. But they don’t have to be my confidante because I don’t’ believe they deserve it. Why would you expect adult children with their own lives to be remotely interested in, or be able to help with, the mad life you have made for yourself in the past 45 years? But in return I don’t expect to be judged for that life, and sadly when you hang out with your kids too much that’s exactly what you’ll get.
You may spend 99 percent of your time being the perfect parent, but that one percent when you totally screw up by drinking too much at lunch and allowing one of your mad friends to crash a family party you have hell to pay the next day. Yes, you read correctly. You become the teenager sent to Coventry for the day by your children because your behaviour was inappropriate. If they could send you to your room to think about your actions they would. But you’re already in your room because it’s the only place in your house, which you own, you feel free of judgement.
I’ve been told I need to have a long look at the kind of people I’m spending my time with (A type celebrity personalities), I should spend a bit more time considering the needs of others (not bringing said friends to family parties) and could they please have my credit card for their uni fees.

So I’m always more than ready for them to move out when they do. I miss them and throw myself around the house using phrases like “empty nest” and cook far too much food. But secretly I’m so relieved to be me again, a bit like that first time when I moved out of my parents’ house at the age of 17.
Meanwhile my husband points out that I only have myself to blame. I brought my kids up to have opinions, think for themselves and not take any shit. This apparently includes their mother.

Illustration by Anthony Ellison

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