Tuesday, 21 September 2010
We are teddy bears
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.