I recently engaged in a robust exchange of views with one of my sons. This particular adult child has long-held a reputation for forgetting to tell anybody things, unless we happen to be in the same room as him when something that might need to be told to us occurs.
On this most recent occasion, the stuff he forgot to tell me was totes important, and my lack of knowledge caused me untold aggravation, and the rest. So I rang him up and let him know where he currently stood with me. As he’s always thought of himself as “the good child,” this came a something of a shock.
First we had to deal with the “oh, it was just a misunderstanding” meme. No it wasn’t, I told him, I didn’t misunderstand anything how could I when you didn’t tell me anything I could misunderstand?
Then we negotiated the “Mum you’re losing control” meme. I’m not losing control, I told him, are you? And by the way, you really need to learn the difference between expressing emotion and losing control. The two are not necessarily the same thing, I told him.
I was also thinking of his wife when I said this. I thought, I bet he says this to her when there’s a disagreement, so I better bring him up to speed about women expressing ourselves. This “you’re losing control” thing is an attempt to shut us up, a projection, and a put down. In my experience it is usually said by males who fear they are losing an argument, though it’s not necessarily gender-based.
Finally, I was reduced by his wilful obduracy to foul language. Fucking hell, I said. “Don’t swear at me down the phone, Mum,” he demanded. Oh my! I cackled, in capital sarcasm font, so in your moral universe me swearing is a bigger offence than you not telling me stuff I really needed to know?
“We’re going round in circles,” he bleated. Indeed we are, I replied, taking pity. Let’s sleep on it and talk again in a couple of days.
My sons taught me foul language. Since becoming husbands and fathers they’ve turned on me. I can’t swear, and I’m reprimanded every time I do something they consider the least bit edgy and that is quite a lot of stuff I do and say. Last time I took Archie out and stopped for coffee, his father asked me if I’d left the baby in the car while I went into the cafe. I looked long at him, and shook my head in a WTF kind of way. Archie’s mother then stepped in and reminded her husband that he’d survived my mothering quite well, and he should perhaps pull his head in.
I am extremely fond of Archie’s mum. I see a lot of me in her. Archie is also showing signs of a possibly anarchic personality. On his recent first plane trip, and though only fourteen months old, he stood up on his seat and hurled peanuts at the passengers sitting behind him till his dad grabbed him by the nappies and hauled him off to the toilet where he gave him a stern talking-to and probably told him he was losing control.
I’m considering forming a group called “Mothers Who Say Fuck.” I’m sure I’m not the only mother who overnight finds herself dealing with a role reversal initiated by her adult children who for some reason, and without consultation, have cast her as the irresponsible adolescent and themselves as long-suffering adults who are burdened with keeping an eye on her and monitoring her language. I can’t quite get my head around this phenomenon. All things considered, they have some nerve.
This attitude does, however, make for a special bond between grandmothers and grandchildren. We share a common cause – defying their parents. We will both be instructed to mind our mouths. We will both be exhorted to act responsibly, and to act our age. On the positive side, we can sit at tables and roll our eyes at one another when their parents issue yet another fucking edict. We can slink off and comfort one another when we’ve been reprimanded and given time outs. We will always know we have each other, when everyone else is pissed off at us because we’ve thrown the metaphorical peanuts. Oh, yeah. I see only good times ahead for Archie and me.