As an under ten, I hated having hippy parents. No chocolate. No TV. No dolls!
As a teen, I loved having hippy parents. House parties. Trust. Freedom to roam about Canterbury as long as I phoned home from time to time (from a phone box! Anyone else remember those?!).
Through the first 15 years of my life, I managed to find something to rail against my parents about, but here is what I think they did right. It almost pains me to type this. Here goes.
They were right not to buy me dolls.
No Barbies. No My Little Ponies. No Flower Fairies. Aim bigger, daughters. We had trowels, notebooks and science sets.
The fierce woman who ran Brownies used to run our school’s netball team. I was one of the only girls not at Brownies. I never got to play: I was always ‘reserve’.
I remember passing a pair of scissors(blades first) to someone in class and being told snottily ‘of COURSE you don’t know how to do it properly, YOU don’t go to Brownies’.
But my mum didn’t want me to go. She would not allow me to swear allegiance to God and the Queen because she didn’t credit either very much. And she was right. So I went to Woodcraft Folk instead where I first met my now brother-in-law. See? It was where the cool kids hung.
No ‘bored’ ‘hate’ or ‘shut up’
We used to have to put 5p in the Barnardo’s box by the front door any time we said one of these three words. My mum was a discipline GENIUS because it has literally only just this minute occurred to me that we never got pocket money and yet passing over her 5ps still felt punishing.
And now, as a parent, I get it. Bored, hate and shut up are three of the ugliest phrases going and they each represent something deeper and uglier. I’ll say it again: my mum is a genius.
No patent shoes. No white socks. No trainers.
Mum swears blind she didn’t do this, but I distinctly remember our GP telling us that trainers were bad for our feet (?!?) and we were, like my nodding mother had said, better off in Dunlop plimsoles (again, ?!?!). Mum also said white socks were impractical. And the shoes with the key in the bottom were too pricey. Plus they were made by Clarks and we were only allowed Startrites. Now I totally agree. Not that her batshit theories were true but because I see their motivation: she is a snob and so am I.
My children are deprived of the modern equivalents: no shaved heads, no Disney bed sheets, no football tops. Pure snobbery.
So, mum, I am sorry and you were right. Please wait by the phone for the teen years: it’ll be ringing off the hook with me begging for forgiveness.