This week has been trying. It’s been a week filled with the rhetoric of quasi political debate, lots of it based largely on a combination of tabloid fear-mongering, a mash-up of Internet memes and something vaguely intelligent that some bloke on C4 news said, or was it that comedian on the Jack Dee panel show? When it got to the point where people were paying more attention to David Beckham I started to get a little concerned, but each to their own. Regardless of which side you fall on, voting in the EU Referendum seems ultimately to have come down to gut instinct or thinly-veiled fascism.
I enjoy living in a democracy, but I can’t help feeling hurt by all the hate. It’s not the world I want to live in, and when good, decent, compassionate folk die whilst doing their best to serve their public I find it almost impossible to find the words to explain what that does to me, and to how it makes me view the world around me.
It’s been a week where I’ve focussed on my children and how the choices I make will affect them and, in turn, it’s been a week where I’ve questioned my own skills as a parent.
This is why parenting is so hard. There is no Pexit. You have to make choices, and then more choices and still more, and then you have to live with the what ifs and the eternal loop of questioning and self flagellation when you wonder if you could have done it better.
To paraphrase the mighty Roy Keane; ‘It’s not about me, or the things I did or didn’t do’. Just because I coasted through school on a wave of ‘could do better’ and still (sort of) managed to turn out okay doesn’t make it the default choice for my children. Especially when they’ve got the potential to be more intelligent and capable of so much more than I ever set my sights on. It’s so, SO, much easier to take the easy path, to allow unlimited access to wifi and COD and ignore the diminishing grades when ‘on the whole’ things are looking okay.
If you’re wondering why parenting is so hard, here’s a little insight. What follows are the highlights taken from a recent, circular and laborious conversation ‘overheard’ at an anonymous home: (names have been changed to protect identities)
Saula: “You’re failing French. I suggest you spend 15 minutes a day practising.”
Cam: “15 MINUTES?! OMG THAT’S SO LONG!”
Saula: “If I told you that you could only spend 15 minutes a day on CoD you’d be complaining that it was nothing.”
Cam: “It’s a completely different thing, you can’t compare. If I said you had to spend 15 minutes a day sharpening pencils…”
Saula: “Go to bed.”
In our scenario above the mother feels that she is being entirely reasonable, whilst the teenager feels that his entire raison d’etre (yeah, that’s right, I went French) is being challenged, and goes immediately on the defensive. Some of you might casually suggest that the mother should consider punting the question back to the teenager to come up with a suitable compromise. You’d be the people who’ve never tried reasoning with a 14 year old with an unlimited supply of pedantic derision.
We don’t get to opt out of parenting. We constantly feel like we’re putting more in than we get out, and we may never see the results of our labours, but we press on regardless, because the alternative is doing nothing, and that’s not acceptable.
I don’t want a household filled with conflict, and often restrictions cannot help but bring conflict, but you try asking a teenager to self moderate and let me know how you go. I’ll be waiting, with a sympathetic shoulder, a large gin and a list of the top five ISPs delivering optimum round-trip time.