– Oscar Wilde.
This summer has been particularly tricky to negotiate in our household, as it has been one of graduation ceremonies and post -A level parties; of 21sts and 18ths and a constant celebration of the glories of youth. In between the partying, the older three have managed to fit in the odd overseas jaunt, paid work, unpaid internships, good old fashioned work experience and a lot of sleep.
All the rites of passage that accompany growing-up in their tribe, then.
Obviously, there is one life event that must have taken place without me noticing. The moment where we pin a large badge on our children that says ‘Keeper of the Knowledge” and then retreat to the chair furthest from the fire to await our fate. Or possibly even wander off into the frozen wastes alone like the aged and defeated stars of a wildlife documentary.
You see, for some strange biological reason, I have suddenly lost my previously unchallenged position as ‘Supreme Source of All Answers that Matter in This House‘. Admittedly I have had the odd skirmish in the past, when one or two dubious mathematical concepts or scientific theories were aired across the supper table, but that is the price we pay for encouraging our children to pay attention to what their teachers are trying to tell them. Actually, teachers have it easy, in my view. Just when age gets to the point of locking antlers with youth in a real argument, their challengers leave school for good.
And let’s face it, I no longer even attempt to impress my children with my mastery of scientific or mathematical concepts. But I did think that after spending half my life raising my offspring I might have learnt a thing or two.
Nope, clearly not. I am simply amazed at the sudden decline in my cognitive powers: at all the simple questions where I Know Absolutely Nothing. Where I am So Wrong. Totally Ridiculous. Etc.
For example, I have lost the ability to drive. It is quite clear that for the last couple of decades I have been careering around the roads like Mr Toad in charge of a caravan. I have NO idea how to negotiate a roundabout correctly, and apparently it is a miracle that I am still here, given my ridiculous tendency to brake sharply whenever I see an object hurtling around a blind bend towards me. Luckily I am rarely required to actually transport those on whom the DVLA has bestowed a driving licence, although the cost of petrol is rarely factored in to all the gadding about. Even worse, now that No1 Daughter can beg lifts off her brothers, I am sliding down the scale of Domestic Usefulness even faster.
In fact, the amount of information I Don’t Know is startling.
I know nothing about the time required to check in at airports when going away with my mates, even though I do know how to obtain travel insurance that covers jet skis less than twelve hours before departure. 🙂 I have washed the dishes for years without appreciating that cold water does the job equally well if I would only stop Being Ridiculous. I know less than nothing about how it feels to be tired after a hard day’s work, or to be asked to do something the minute I walk on the door.
I know nothing about relationships, UCAS, universities, travel, X Factor (well, OK, I accept that..), organising gap year travel or what makes them tick. My crystal ball is really handy, though. Thank goodness – with that, I DO still know how to locate their sunglasses, wristwatch, black tie or pink bra, help them articulate why they want to read a particular subject at university even when they’ve never heard of it before this week, explain how they are going to pay for boring stuff like phone contracts and contact lenses, suggest why they still need to visit a dentist once in a while, tell them what’s for supper and identify the sibling that ate all the honey yoghurts. One day, though, they will no longer need me to know all that stuff…….
The plan is that tonight, Son No1 and Daughter No1 are to cook. They have a shelf of cookery books to consult, but have yet to agree a recipe. Once they’ve cracked that task, I will no longer know how to cook, either.
What AM I going to do with all this empty head space? 🙂