Parents used to have more social time with friends in the sixties, seventies and eighties than parents do now.As kids we ate a yellow TV dinner whilst they entertained with tinned things on ritz crackers, BenEan wine (or if you were classy, Mateusse), Neil Diamond on the record player and a blue haze of Stuveysent smoke. They laughed and ignored us, we survived it. Mothers and Fathers, hear my Call to Arms. Come and hang out. I will not cook from Nigella nor entertain your kids. I will wear lipstick and I may make lewd innuendo in front of your darlings. Ring the doorbell. You might get a ritz cracker with a tinned oyster while our kids hunt for snails in the garden. When there is whining or dobbing we’ll ignore them, and They Will Survive.
Ok, so in truth MY mum and Dad did a bit of the above, though the meal would have been a cooked one for us kids…but yellow, like maybe fish fingers.
But I recall them entertaining. Be it a drop in from neighbour Margaret that lasted for three hours and a packet of mint slices, or the more posh dinners, or the family arvo teas or BBQs, the house often had people in it. Any kids present were left to their own devices. We got up to some mischief, got bored, whined, dobbed, but weren’te given the huge amount of air-time that prevents ‘grown-ups’ from having a bloody life.
I have decided to become a big supporter of Childhood Boredom, something I’m learning to instil finally (hopefully not late) in my son who as an only child has ruled the bloody roost for too long!
The best gift my Mum gave me as a kid was boredom. She’s an interesting person. But she didn’t load me up with pre-set interesting play. I didn’t go to Kindergarten, I dagged around behind her doing bits of housework. I got bored. I found things to do. I was eager when schooling started. Later I learned to make things, draw, colour, hook rugs, tapestry, annoy my brother, have a fight, survive it etc.So yeah, forget waiting for an invite for some posh nosh. Forget me setting up a fun learning activity for the kids. Come over. We’ll talk in the kitchen and let them work it out. I won’t ignore them if they damage themselves, but unless they’re bleeding, murdering or setting fires I’m going to take a deep breath (and a deeper slug from the wine-glass) and then I’m going to shrug.
Don’t you think it’s time we all learned to shrug again? Ahh, the shrug, that lovely loose physical manifestation of ‘care factor?’ and ‘I dunno!’…