Tuesday, 21 September 2010

We are teddy bears

Last night I was driving the Car of Great Grumpiness, performing the Taxi Ride of Gloom. Adrian had been in London at some do with Princess Anne (well, they’d been in the same room). Meanwhile James had stayed late at school as a salve. He wants to weekly board (actually in his heart of hearts he’d like to full-board but he is smart enough not to push too hard) – we’ve said it’s not an option.  Partly (okay, majorly) because of cost but also because, for pity's sake, he's only eleven.  We haven't had him five minutes and already he wants to move out?  
James was tired and grumpy – so was Adrian. Not that much difference between males really, whatever their age: when they’re tired or hungry they become revolting. By the time we got home the mood was positively festering.
‘Oh God, welcome to our happy home,’ said Adrian, dripping with sarcasm.
‘Well don’t worry; you’ll get rid of me tomorrow for the night, won’t you?’ lashed back James.
Cue hurt look from Adrian and stair-stomping by James. The SP hid behind the sofa and Asbo turned his head to the wall.  Jeez.
‘I wouldn’t mind but he isn’t even pleased to see us,’ said Adrian after we’d navigated bedtime and slumped at the table in the penumbra (half the light bulbs have blown).

Ah. Here it is. The Gulf of Parental Expectation. I had had lunch with a friend earlier and we were talking about just this. How, as children, we just accept our parents, we take them for granted. Sure, if they left or died, we’d be devastated. But generally a child’s view (if they even think about it) is that parents’ jobs are to be there, like giant teddy bears (albeit with open wallets and car keys) in the background, solid and comforting but ultimately to be grown out of, to be set aside and patted fondly from time to time.

But as parents, the whole thing turns on its head. Our children are The Most Important Things in the World, objects of endless interest and fascination. I can remember my mother wistfully asking about my day when I was at school; about my life when I was at university. It used to amaze me that she was so interested in every last detail. Now I understand, all too well.

‘Bottom line, we’re not as interesting to James as he is to us,’ I said to Adrian as we walked the dogs through the early morning mist by the river. He had just been relating a long story about the brewing industry in Burton on Trent. He looked suspiciously at me.
‘That was a boring story, wasn’t it?’ he said.  Aaaghh. ‘It’s not about you, it’s not about us.’ I paused. ‘See, you have to understand.  We’re teddy bears.’

He looked extremely puzzled and scratched his fur.

21 comments:

Northern Snippet said...

Ha ha that's cheered me up.My 18 yr old has just gone to university,I rang him last night and was curtly informed 'Mum you don't need to ring me every day..'
I was asking him details about his day exactly what he'd been up to,basically what you've just described.
I am a teddy bear,only going to ring him weekly from now on..

Suzie Grogan said...

You have no idea how relevent this story is to me today! Big bust up with child number two, who when challenged about sulky attitude to me in particular and asked what she thought my role was in her life she said 'I don't know, you are just Mum. Your job is to be there.' I was hurt, now I see she had a point...

Exmoorjane said...

Snippet: that told ya! We need a teddy bear self-help group. 'Hello, my name is Jane and I'm a clingy teddy bear.'

Suzie: ah, I know, I know. But it IS true, isn't it? Just think how we felt about our own parents? Centre of our universe? Sadly not.
They DO love us though - just not in our mad clingy 'I'm your favourite fan' way. :)

Posie said...

Ooh and the teenage years are looming Jane. My youngest keeps asking if she is going to turn into a 'grumpy teenager' like her older sister and brother...she frequently looks at me and asks 'What's happened to them?...they didn't used to be like this'.Love the idea of being a big teddy bear, although mine don't even want a teddy these days!!
Liked the idea of a lager and chips diet in your previous blog, and mouthwatering biscuits, just reading it makes me hungry!!Good luck with the new programme.
Posie

Exmoorjane said...

Posie: oh poor love (your daughter) - a bit like those horror films where people wonder if they will become vampires/werewolves etc when they grow up... :)

Sessha Batto said...

I'm happy to say that the sullen teenage sulks disappear when they get sick. A bout of flu has suddenly taken me from an unfortunate embarrassment to the most wonderful woman in the world . . . at least for the next few days ;)

Is it bad to wish your child would get sick more often? I know, just wishful thinking!!

Exmoorjane said...

Sessha: *snort* (love it)

Milla said...

F11 gloriously in love with me still. Mind you, he's 10 days younger than James, all might be ruined come 10 days time. And he's sort of mad which is the pay-off for utter adoration. T14 (yes, he's 14 now!!) ricochets between v sweet and sulky eye roller. It'll break my flinty little heart when I'm finally tossed aside like a crappy old rag. All that'll be left will be the bloody dog and, God knows, she can't stand me - there never was a happy infancy, just straight to disdain. why DO we bother!

rachel said...

In my experience (don't you always cringe when someone starts a sentence with that?), children - no, I mean sons - don't really ever see very clearly that their parents - no, I mean mothers - are real separate people with lives, needs, expectations of their own; perhaps it happens fleetingly now and again, but not always reliably. And in sickness or heartbreak, they become 5-year-olds again, needing their mums. And we leap willingly into role, thrilled to be Mummy again. We don't stand a chance, really.

ArtSparker said...

Sweet, It's good to be aware I guess.

Preseli Mags said...

Mine are still young enough to be 'gloriously in love' with me as Milla so succinctly puts it but I can see my teddy bear days are not far in the future. Lovely mental image of you two teddies walking by the misty river. I do hope you were holding paws.

elizabethm said...

But the thing nobody tells you, perhaps you are not supposed to admit it, maybe it's not motherly, is that when you have negotiated the teenage years and they have gone away to university and got jobs, and have really grown up, having your life back is really rather wonderful. And when they are real grown ups they ring you up instead of the other way round. When they have children they even ring you up and tell you how they never appreciated you enough and how wonderful you are! It gets worse, but then it gets a whole lot better, honest!
I love the idea of being a teddy bear though. That is just perfect. They just want you to be around in the background and not be too embarrassing. It is not possible not to be embarrassing at all!

legend in his own lunchtime said...

My son (6) ricochets backwards and forwards between total total disdain (you're fired daddy) to hanging round my neck and smothering me with kisses. I can manage the former if I get the latter. It won't be long before the disdain becomes permanent, so I am enjoying the moment

Irritatingly Optimistic said...

No Teddy bears here. Just cash machines, taxi drivers and hotel staff.

BTW my verification code is Furry!

Laura - Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? said...

That's made me all emotional and happy at the same time.

Mine (4 and 6) never tell me what goes on at school. I bore myself with asking them.

Dulwich Divorcee said...

SO completely on the money, Jane. I ask my children every day what they did at school and they look at me as if I am mad. I am going to stop. Well, try to stop. I shall go and brush my fur now ...x

clareybabble said...

That is so true! I now understand how horrible I was to my parents. If my children acted like I did I would be devastated...but I am expecting it. Circle of life or something...

spudballoo said...

Too true...too true. I never appreciated my parents until I became one myself, alas by then my mother was dead so I never got to express my lasting gratitude to her for everything that she did for me. As a child, in my 20s in fact, I just expected her to be there...to do what I needed, when I needed it...and to be on my side. And she was. Now I know how it feels to be on the other side of that.

My eldest is 5 and has just started school. he won't tell me anything about it. It's driving me nuts and he can't understand why. As you say, these little people are so fasinating to us. But we're just the background music, the wallpaper to their lives. More or less.

Still, what goes around comes around and eventually they will become parents and realise how it goes.
x

Philip Whiteland said...

A long and boring story about Burton-on-Trent! How very dare you?

The Coffee Lady said...

My mum told me when I had my first baby, who used to scowl at me and turn on a smile for everyone else, that mothers were just like a big piece of furniture. They were always there. They were solid.

So there you are. We're cupboards. And I can't speak for you, but I'm pretty solid to look at.

Michele/banana said...

This explains why I keep waking up under the bed covered in dust bunnies.