Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The everlasting strangeness of others

Overheard today in the shopping-centre carpark, a fragment of an exchange between the youngish parents of two little girls:

HIM: ... but why do you have to bring everybody else down with you?
HER: Why not? If I'm down, why shouldn't everybody else be down too?

He had no answer to this. He merely looked hang-dog and got on with wheeling the trolley. The power she had over him was not pretty-girl power, for she was not a pretty girl, but you could see it was one of those relationships in which, for some mad reason, the bloke somehow courts and welcomes being emotionally controlled by some soi-disant princess and her bitch-from-hell ways. Think Brett in Kath and Kim. There's a profound psychological truth to that marriage.

In the supermarket, on a whim, I had bought some trash mags, entertained as I perennially am by the letters to 'psychics'. ("My mother died in 1976. Is she all right?") One of this week's letters begins like this:

'My eldest daughter is driving me crazy. She will be 18 soon and we fight all the time about her career choice.'

You do say what? Just exactly who is driving whom crazy in this scenario? Back off, mama. Back off and mind your beeswax.


Mindy said...

Geez if my kids have made a career choice by 18 I will be happy. I had no idea what I wanted to do until about 3rd yr Uni, and even then it was 'not what I'm currently studying'.

Ampersand Duck said...

Absolutely, I'm with Mindy. My parents had 'decided' on my career choice by 18, based on the fact that I wore glasses and read a lot: 'librarian', 'writer', 'teacher'... oh, wait, what? Phooey.

Um, yeah. So I guess they were right, in a funny sorta way, BUT I MADE MY OWN WAY THERE PEOPLES AND IT WASN'T THEIR WAY.

As you were.

(WV: eyablial = 'Green-faced lady, my daughter wears glasses, will she be alright? I'll sue you if you're wrong.')

Ampersand Duck said...

And at the risk of taking up too much oxygen, I witnessed a young couple fighting yesterday in Woollies. He was picking at her for saying the wrong thing, in a really whingy voice, and suddenly she turned on him and said 'so what can I say? Everything I say is wrong for you.' Immediately he said 'Wodcha say that for?' whereupon she said, 'if you can't be useful, piss off outa here and let me shop in peace' (something I think mothers of toddlers really really want to say).

He loped about whinging a little bit more until she gave him the hairy eyeball and he left. Later I saw him hanging anxiously around the entrance clutching a presumably conciliatory Maccas bag.

I hope she escaped by another exit.

Elephant's Child said...

Not only strange but more than a little frightening.

seepi said...

I once heard a couple have the most bizaqrre argument where they both just repeated the saem thing for about 5 minutes.

Her "I don't effin deserve this"
Him "But I don't effen deserve it"

(Plaintive voices)

Her "I don't effin deserve this"
Him "But I don't effen deserve it"

(getting angry voices)
Her "But I don't effen deserve it"
Him "But I don't effen deserve it"

(moaning/whining voice)
Him "But I don't effen deserve it"
Her "But I don't effen deserve it"

etc etc etc and so it went on.

Goodness only knows what they were actually disagreeing about - we moved away - they could be still repeating that o each other for all we know.

Link said...

It's an interesting lesson, letting, allowing and encouraging your children to be who they are, not who you want them to be.

I saw a friend who plays the Pipes busking on the street the other day with his two children--they looked utterly dejected and he looked like he finally had everything under control at last. Now we are sitting playing music . . .und you vil enjoy it. His kids looked about 7 and 9. Forcing young children with heavy, strong emotions to do stuff they don't want to is a bit abusive, it's no doubt happened to all of us to a certain extent, but something inside dies and hardens when it's a regular stunt and that's a bit sad really, no wonder so many people are fucked up and confused. Parents have a lot to answer for--basically.

My daughter-in-law (who is not really so formally titled) dubbed the neighbours the 'Screamhouse Gases. It is apt. I've started putting mirrors up to try and deflect there multitudinous 'effing 'cs', how many times can you be one in one night? I think I would have strangled her by now. I should record it . . . I wish however, that I had very large speakers so I could blast them with the Pastorale or summit.

Von said...

O the joys of relationships and parenting. It doesn't have to be so hard unless you want it to be.

Casey said...

"("My mother died in 1976. Is she all right?")"

Lol-led so loud the cat flipped out and took off.

Anonymous said...

Scary thought: The author of "... died in 1976 - is she alright?"
is probably on the Electoral Roll.

Just popped in to commend to you Dove Grey Reader, who has posted lovely photos of all her cats on her couches with her books. worth the clickthrough.
X X Ann O'Dyne

paul walter said...

Ha, ha, loved the Kath and Kim observation, a macabre note.
I'll work out want I want to do when I grow up.
So there.

Anonymous said...

"We fight all the time about her career choice."

This is what's known in the spy trade as "insufficient information," that is unless you actually read more info in the paper at the time and simply didn't blog it.

If all we have to go on is what's at hand, then I'm smelling a trace of class condescension. The sentence can be read in (at least) two very different ways: either the career choice is as yet undecided and in the future, or perhaps the die is already cast.

For instance, what if the girl is already pursuing her career choice, and her chosen career is "crack whore"? It's not off the table, I myself have a very dear friend (now long since straightened out) who pursued that very metier at that very age.

The devil, as they say, is in the details.

The ever-helpful j_p_z

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

'If all we have to go on is what's at hand, then I'm smelling a trace of class condescension.'

Really? Sensitive nose you have there, JPZ -- whom do you see as as condescending to whom, and in what way? The kid wants to be a cop, as a matter of fact. If I had a girl-child who wanted to be a cop, I would be proudly applauding both her courage and her desire to make the police force a less macho outfit, and then sending her off for private lessons in typing, driving, peaceful personal negotiation and martial arts, not necessarily in that order.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

And the reason I didn't specify what the kid wanted to be in the first instance was that I regarded it as quite unnecessary and beside the point I was making, viz, that, while the woman should by all means try to steer her darling gently away from a career as a crack whore, what I was objecting to was her apparent conviction that her almost adult daughter's career choice was All About Her. Which has, like, fuck all to do with 'class' IMHO.

David Irving (no relation) said...

I'm a little late to the conversation, but no matter. I didn't work out what I wanted to do until I was about 30. (It's not what I do now, btw.) Like Ms Duck, I'm finally doing what I probably should've decided on in 1968 (computer programmer), but the way I got here was much more entertaining.