1. "I'll tell your father!"
Mum's favourite disciplinary method was to tell dad the error of our ways when he arrived home from work and then, when he was paddling our bums, to feel guilty about it and stop him. It was a confusing time for all of us. Not that she told him everything. At family functions Mum will occasionally dust off a horrid tale about some disastrous thing we did as kids and Dad looks as surprised as anyone. Like when I was two and stepped into a bucket of gloss paint before walking through the house. Mum quickly called her mum and the two of them worked frantically to clean up the mess before my father came home from work, which probably explains why I’m still here to tell the tale. Dad found out at an Easter Sunday lunch ten years ago when I was 35.
2. "You can be anything you want to be."
Turns out I couldn't. I work in a bank so I'm about as far from being a Space Rock God as you can get. I can't even play air guitar, although I do space out a lot.
3. "I know everything."
When you’re a kid you really do think this, don’t you? Mum’s are SMART. I always thought my mum was pretty clever because she could work out who did what despite not even being in the room: sometimes just knowing we’d done something wrong, if not immediately knowing what. Now, of course, I realize she’d simply noticed I’d hidden the ‘world’s greatest stirrer’ spoon, which usually hung on the wall and which Dad used to paddle my bum with if I was naughty. For some reason I figured Dad wouldn't be able to smack me if he couldn't find the dreaded spoon. Sadly, my hiding skills weren't even as developed as my dodgy logic circuits and I’d usually just throw the thing under a cushion and plonk myself on top. Personally, when it comes to stuff my kids do, I know nothing. I admit it. I can almost hear my kids thinking, ‘he’s got nothing’, when I try bluff my way through. Tracey does better. How she even knows who was playing with which toy is beyond me. Hell, how she knows which names go with which child is beyond me most days. I'll tag along as she marches into a bedroom to discipline one of the kids for not brushing their teeth or leaving dolls out and be in absolute awe of her parenting skills and hoping some of her awesomeness will brush of on me. Essentially, I'm Robin: she's Batman.
4. "I never want you to leave."
Oh, really, Mum? Now I admit I've also said this to all my kids and I know I said it genuinely and sincerely every time. But they were still cute at this point, having not attended school yet. It's such a wonder and joy when your kids squeeze their way into your life; it's hard to imagine ever being happy again without them being right there in the shadow of your helicopter. I think maybe this is why God invented the teenage years. I know I was grinning and waving like an idiot as Master20 drove off to university.
5. Big Family.
For years I thought my family was HUGE. Turns out a whole busload of people I thought were my uncles and aunties were nothing more than Mum & Dad's drinking buddies.
6. "If you eat your crusts you'll have curly hair."
Mum loved this one, although I think it was just a ruse so I wouldn't waste any food. I went to boarding school where for five years I was so hungry I didn't waste things like crusts, gristle or apple cores. Despite this, I have a photo of me with a perm as proof positive crusts cause nothing more than indigestion if eaten too quickly and not chewed well enough. But then, maybe they only work on hair below the belt?
7. “Carrots are good for your eyes.”
Another of Mum’s favourites which I also think is a load of codswallop. Despite crunching my way through enough carrots to turn a rabbit’s fur orange, my eyes are shot. Although, to be fair, from when I turned fifteen the carrots were always going to be hard pressed to counter 'if you play with yourself you'll go blind'. Who knows, maybe my high carrot intake is why I can still find something to enjoy in a Jessica Alba flick.
In grade one, we were asked what our parents' names were. My hand rose faster than my wife's temper. I had this one. After all, I'd been screaming at them to do stuff for me for years.
"Yes, Bruce?" my teacher asked.
"Mum and Dad," I said confidently.
"No, their actual names," she said. "Like your name is Bruce. What are your parents' names?"
What the hell was this nonsense?
To make matters even more confusing, I did try calling my parents by their Christian names, Geoff & Judy, on a couple of occasions, but they refused to respond. Well actually, Dad responded then Mum told him to stop. Things got even worse when a few years later I discovered Mum was also known by lots of other names - Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny and The Tooth Fairy amongst them. It was like living in an episode of The Saint. After this, I stopped being so keen to volunteer answers at school, which was a good thing because it freed up a lot of time for me to try catch Sally Noonan's attention.
9. "We don't play favourites."
Then perhaps you could explain to me why my brother and sister were given two decent eyebrows a piece yet I only got the one? Yeah...that's what I thought. Worst still, my monobrow has a bloody cow-lick. Or rather, had a bloody cow-lick. Years of cosmetic surgery (waxing) have corrected this hideous imperfection, but at what cost? I no longer have the high moral ground necessary to toss scathing comments at my mates who drink shandies and have had perms. No, wait. That's me too. Hey, I’m a child of the eighties. Our role models were Boy George and Adam Ant for Pete’s sake. We were never going to turn out normal.
10. "Come here now, or I'm leaving without you!"
Although I suspect this was an empty threat because three years ago, after repeatedly trying to convince me to move back to Brisvegas, my parents moved so Mum could be two hundred meters up the road from where I live. But how often was I threatened with this when I was lagging behind at the shops? And I’m a product of my mother’s upbringing. Not that I use this particular threat – my kids are more switched on than I was and would call my bluff. Instead I threaten to tell their mother. We're all rather sensibly scared of her, even though she doesn't even have a spoon engraved with ‘world’s biggest stirrer’ hanging on the wall. She doesn't need it.
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