Okay, I do have a topic, and it’s very much parenting-related … but I’m just in the door and I’m fuming about something else entirely.
What, you ask? Well, you encounter something in human behaviour you hadn’t noticed before and you think, hmm, that’s a bit off; it happens again and you wonder, was it always like this and I just wasn’t paying attention?; you see it yet again and now and it’s obvious: the gates of civilisation are down and the barbarians are inside. Trump is only the worst of it …
I had popped in to my local Eurospar to pick up a roll and a newspaper. I noticed two guys near the newspaper stand talking … well-to-do looking, middle-aged guys … smooth casually conservative clothes, overcoat collars turned up. Talking golf, I reckoned. Judgmental, me?
I got my items and there was a woman at the counter in front of me … a smiling old dear, taking her time, one item at a time, chatting away to the friendly girl behind the counter, reaching down, down into the darkest recesses of the nether regions of her large, old dear handbag for her purse. Behind her was a young mom with a buggy, a second kid, aged about three, and a woman friend. Then me.
It was fine and lovely to see the old dear at the counter being so charming and being engaged with … but she was taking an age, and the queue behind her was building up.
The three-year-old was getting bored and stroppy. A few more people had gathered behind me. One of the two golfer types joined the end of the queue.
As they do in this Eurospar when the queues at the main check outs build up, a third check-out was opened across the way and the woman there called out “Next!”:
The woman with the buggy, next in line to be served, made to go across to the opened check-out. Well if she did, Mr Golf Club had shot in front of her, with his armload of stuff, and plonked them down on the conveyor belt. A plonker in every way. She turned back to our queue, and focused on soothing her three-year-old.
It didn’t seem to have even crossed Mr Golf Etiquette’s mind he had jumped the queue, or maybe he cared less. He just had this smug air about him, as if he was delighted with his excellent piece of human driving, like he had pulled off some cool passing-out manoeuvre in his Volvo on the M50 slip-road, squeezing out at the last minute on to the motorway in front of some well-mannered loser in a Nissan Micra.
Of course I said nothing to Mr Golf Dude, he was too far away, so I just simmered. I have seen this type of thing too often recently, so and sos cutting in front of people, skipping queues, beeping at traffic lights a nano-second after the light turns green. They have probably done this all their lives, in one way or another. Entitled.
Nothing whatsoever to do with the first session I attended the other day of the short Parenting Plus course I am doing at the kids’ secondary school … but I’m there now!
I just felt this Parenting Plus thing might be good to do, hopefully I might meet other parents who, like myself, could do with a pointer or twenty, in a practical way. Maybe share some thoughts, ideas and, yes, war stories.
I was nervous … thinking maybe it also represented some kind of public admission of failure. That and a plea for help. Like some kind of Ant and Dec thing … I’m a Nonentity, Get Me Out Of This Parenting Jungle …
“Okay, Enda,” says cheeky Dec, “we have our bushtucker trials … which will you do … suck these rancid snake eggs up through a rusty pipe filled with crusted armadillo snot” … smirking Ant cuts in, “… Or tell your daughter K she’s not having that sleepover after all …”
“Fine, show me those eggs …”
There was supposed to be 11 of us … I see five empty seats and the only other bloke hasn’t shown up …
The Moms look all smiley, welcoming … and competent. How can I tell them some of the things that have been going on between us and our kids … the hardcore shouting matches and arguments over Smartphone curfews that leave me feeling a lot less smart than those phones and reaching for the wine bottle when I stagger downstairs to the sitting-room.
“Hello ladies, I’m Psycho Dad, and you are? …”
Well, once we got rolling, talked a little about ourselves and our aspirations with the two women teachers leading this first session, it was really cool.
No stories can be shared here, as it is naturally a bit of a Fight Club thing … what’s revealed and spoken about in Parenting Plus, stays in Parenting Plus.
I can just tell you it was good to know I am not alone … we are all struggling with parenting things. Knowing this in an abstract, intellectual way is all well and fine, but actually sharing stories and difficulties, and swopping tips and confidences with real people, the parents of real kids, in an open, supportive and above all, unthreatening situation… well the two hours I spent there were the quickest two hours I have ever spent.
Roll on the next session.