Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Inappropriate parenting, zombie bloodbaths and clearing up dog shit

‘Those boys have been on the Xbox all day.’  Adrian was standing at the door of my office, hands on hips (the ones he insists he doesn’t have) glaring at me.  Downstairs I could hear the happy sounds of zombies being blasted at point blank range by James and his friend Bob. No, he wasn't christened Bob but for some strange reason none of James’s friends are called by their real names – hence we have Dave and Gobby and Klinks and Ferret and Pong. A few of his classmates get called by their surnames in a rather delightfully old-fashioned public school fashion while a few more are addressed by their full names (all the time) – which is equally odd.  Only Nathan is called….Nathan (which now, by dint of comparison, seems peculiar).
Anyhow, this prolonged zombie blood-bath somehow appeared to be my fault.  I raised an eyebrow. 
‘Well, it’s ridiculous.’ 
I nodded.  Sometimes it’s best just to agree.
‘They should be outside.’
‘What? Playing at the Famous Five?’  I looked towards the window where the rain was doing the rain equivalent of a Ginger Baker drum solo. 
‘It’s only a bit of rain. Children should do wholesome things.’ 

Sheesh.  When did my husband turn into The Killer of All Childish Joy?  This is, after all, the man who used to work for the NME, who played in an indie band, who rode a big motorbike and once upon a time had pupils like saucers half the waking day.  He sure as hell wasn’t no angel. Yet now he’s turned into Mr Morality and he and James are having increasing run-ins, usually over the most trivial of sins. 
‘He eats too many sweets.’  ‘He watches too much television.’  ‘He wears his trousers too low.’ ‘He’s on the Internet too much.’ ‘He eats rubbish.’ ‘He swears like a trooper.’ ‘He’s lazy.’ ‘He’s snippy.’

Yes, he’s probably right but I dunno, I cut the boy a bit of slack in the holidays, mainly because (if we’re really honest) most of his sins (apart from the TV and the trousers too low bit) are ones I share with him.  And James and I, we get along just fine, we really do.  We simply don’t rub one another up the wrong way.  Maybe it’s because we share the same number and direction in Feng Shui terms (while Adrian is out on a tangent). But James and Adrian…ye gods.  I comfort myself by saying it’s a young stag/old stag thing – that they need, in primal psychological terms to face up to one another and clash antlers occasionally; to waft their testosterone in each other’s general directions and bellow.  But, bloody hell, it’s tiring.  Why can’t men just talk things through reasonably, like women do?  Why all the archetypal drama? 
‘Anyhow, I was thinking,’ continued Adrian.  ‘You are listening, right?’
‘What?  Oh yes, absolutely.’
‘Well, I’m going to get them clearing up the garden…’

That woke me up. ‘WHAT?  ‘Clearing up the garden’ is a euphemism for wandering around mournfully, shovel in hand, clearing dog turds from the lawn. 
‘What do you mean, what?
‘Well, you can’t seriously expect Bob to clean up our dogs’ turds. I mean, can you imagine it?  Bob  goes home and his mother says, ‘So, Bob, what did you do at James’s house?’ and Bob replies, ‘Oh, such wizard gapes, Mater – we spent our afternoon shovelling dog shit and burying it in a large pit.’ I mean, it wouldn’t be so bad if he’d been here before but it’s his First Time and you want him on poop scoop duty?’
I looked at Adrian and he looked at me.  Then we both burst out laughing. 
‘Yeah, okay,’ he said. ‘I’ll concede that one.’
‘I know our parenting skills aren’t brilliant but that really would be scraping the barrel.’

But it got me thinking, maybe we are missing a trick here.  Okay, so not on the First Visit –but after that?  Just think of all those other totally inappropriate things one could get a visiting child to do (and -evil laugh - because they're visiting and Being Polite, they would probably do them). 
·         Clean the lavatories
·         De-louse the dogs
·         Sort out our underwear drawers
·         Pick hair out of the shower

No, these are NOT the boys...
I’ll stop there but, in fact, sod it, think bigger, Jane.  Let’s get a house party together – drag in Pong and Gobby and Dave and George Clark and Sticklepath and, er, Nathan – and get ‘em stripping the walls and rewiring the hallway or clearing the vegetable patch and building a pagoda.

As a treat afterwards, I could stick fake facial hair on them and sneak them into The Inbetweeners (cos I’m desperate to see it myself) and then go down the pub for a round of Snakebites. 
It’s a plan, right? 

I must have been musing out loud because Adrian just shook his head sadly, hitched up his two sizes too large jeans from Mole Valley (oh, alas, to think that once he would only wear 501s) and walked away.  But I’m not giving up, oh no.  


Midlife Singlemum said...

Hahaha. Turn it into a competitive computer game with points, rewards and punishments. You could have the makings of a best seller here.

zenandtheartoftightropewalking said...

do it do it do it.
You'd be legendary.
w is ograpp. wonderful.

martine said...

I don't expect visitors to do the washing up first visit, but after that you're on the rota:-)
thanks for sharing

T.L Tyson said...

This had me laughing my arse off, Jane. Mostly because when I was young my dad often had us 'mustering' in the yard. Picking up the poop, really. And often a friend or two was in tow. Too funny. :D

Tattie Weasle said...

Oh God yes YES YES you HAVE so got to so do it only so I can get top tips on how to get The Boy's mates do teh smwer ovetr at my place...then maybe mum would think I am not as feral as I look....

Kira said...

Now there's an idea... *stores away information for future use*

Remember to tell us how it goes!

janerowena said...

Beat you to it - I get my 16 year-old's friends to help me to move move our huge chicken tractors every time they come round - and then they help to clean them out! Seriously, they love it. Especially if a chicken escapes and they have to catch it. I felt seriously guilty the first time I asked - but they were all 14 or 15 the first time, and already bigger and stronger than me!

The male thing - yes, it's the young stag v. the old one thing. Yesterday it was over who had eaten all the cake - and neither seemed to notice that I had baked the bloody thing and had none of it at all!

Rob-bear said...

Um, yes, well, . . . right. I'm with Martine and janerowena (I think). After the first visit, you're on the rota. I should have thought about that 20 years ago.

Ivy said...

Oh Jane I had a 17 year boy volunteering to rake the lawn las autumn and my son chopped down a couple of trees at a friend's place, during the summer holidays. :)
Men do love to be treated like slaves!
Send Adrian and James sailing together, they soon get over their father and son troubles. But women talking it over? Sorry if you hear my hollow laughter. I think every mother should be entitled to send her teenage daughter to boarding school in a remote country!

Sessha Batto said...

You are not alone, Jane! Just this morning the hubs went off on a tirade - Lurch's pants are too tight, too low, his shirt is inappropriate, his HAIR is too long (from the man who had a ponytail down to his butt until 2 years ago). When Lurch looked to me for backup (and got it) then I was suddenly christened the crazy loosey goosey lady raising a raving eejit ;) Head butting is, unfortunately, part of it - but I'm VERY glad it's boys butting heads rather than me strangling my teenage daughter and burying her in the back yard!!