This quote sprung into my mind over tea preparation this evening as I was teaching Zak the 'correct' (and only) way to behead a boiled egg. It made me reflect for a second on who the hell did I think I was dictating to this child that there was only one possible way to achieve this task. I think I was probably in a deeper zone than usual, as half an hour previously I had been at Trestle in a full mask having a silent dialogue with another mask about the best way to skin a rabbit. Luckily for the local rabbit population there were only eggs available when I arrived at home.
I remember having impassioned debates when I arrived at University, (the first time, properly, back in the day), with fellow students, about whether butter/ketchup should be kept in the fridge or not (of course it should/definitely not, are you mad?!) I realise now that this was the first time we had all lived with people who hadn't lived in our own families growing up, and so, I certainly, had not registered that there was any other way of doing things. Needless to say I never converted away from my own deep-rooted chilled or cupboard habits.
I keep making the mistake of thinking that my children's personalities are set already. I think Sebi is more structured into who he will be as an adult than Zak is, but of course there is a long way to go. Seb shoots the odd look every now and then which can only be translated as "fuck off", and I'm sure this will remain part of him for the rest of his life. Zak was waiting anxiously for me by the front door as I returned home this evening, whereas this time last year he wouldn't have given much of a monkeys where I was or what time I was coming home.
My Mum was very shy as a child as was determined that her daughter would not suffer the same fate. She therefore spent a large amount of my childhood instilling in me how pretty, clever, funny and important I was. She was the first one to point out to me as an adult that she thought she had overdone it somewhat.
My Dad parented, (oh OK, who am I kidding?), PARENTS me in a very similar way to I parent my boys. The school of thought that I want you to develop your own mind so think about the many different ways there are of doing things and then figure out in the end that my way is the right and only way. I would place bets on Seb one day parenting in a similar fashion. Luckily for my children they also have Stuart, to bring a little flexibility and fluidity into their lives, otherwise it might well be like living in a very efficiently run military academy...
I think the main problem with having such an overinflated, egotistical idea of self-worth as I do, is that you cannot possibly imagine that anyone else could do anything better. I'm the potter and my poor unsuspecting offspring are my clay. I am fully aware that I'm going to come unstuck one day, as they find their more independent voices and rebel away from their control-freak mother. Here's hoping the years of groundwork will have paid off. After all, what else in the world is as important as being able to properly serve up a dippy egg?