Family conversation around the dinner table

March 10, 2010

Me: When I was at secondary school, my friends and I used to buy these long thin packs of bubble gum for 10p, and then we used to stand on the steps of the temporary hut and have spitting competitions.
Isabel: Ugh! YUCK!
Mattgreen: (sanctimoniously) I was brought up not to behave like that.
Me: I'm sure my mother would argue that she hadn't brought me up to behave like that either. She said it was uncouth and she didn't think I should chew bubble gum because it's not suitable for young ladies.
Mattgreen: (deadpan) Your mother never has been a fan of evidence-based theories.
Isabel: (with a sense of urgency) Can you not bring me up like that please? When I'm older, please can you stop me from buying bubble gum?
Me: (laughing) NO! No way! You can buy as much bubble gum as you like!

This follows on from a conversation with my parents at the weekend, where they dragged up their favourite anecdote from my teenage years for the billionth time.

One weekend when they were away and I'd had a few drinks, I decided to paint my bedroom wall black. The only paint I could find was gloss, but knowing absolutely nothing about DIY, that didn't stop me. Apparently it was a bit of a pain in the arse to get off.

Anyway, I pointed out to them that the reason I'd done it was because I knew that if I'd asked them nicely if I could paint my wall black, they would've said, "No way". So I took the opportunity to do it first and ask later.

With Isabel, I intend to let her do anything I consider borderline reasonable. I'd let her paint her room black, I'd let her have her nose pierced, I'd take her to the O2 to see a band with her friends, and so on. My parents said no to virtually everything so I stopped listening altogether. I'm hoping I can bypass the drama of my teenage years by being permissive.

It helps that Izzy has half Mattgreen genes, and therefore is much less reckless and much more self-regulating than I was. Although sometimes I wonder whether I am going to end up as Edina to her Saffy...

Can I be Patsy? Please?
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