I have just spent the best part of a week with my children in London (well, the two that are left). My services were required to collect one from University, and to take another one to Ikea and other various shops. This time I didn’t do nearly as much tidying up and cleaning as I had on previous visits. I did most of it the last time I was here and it was still pretty reasonable. My daughter has acquired the clean and tidy gene from me and so she has been doing most of the housework while I have been retained as chauffer. 🙂
I was able to have some quality time with my daughter before I collected her twin brother from University. Being the only girl in the family, she has a very special place in my heart and it was great to have a bit of bonding time with her on her own. It was great to catch up with her news as I hadn’t seen her for awhile. She must have been feeling very comfortable with me because the conversation ended up with her sharing a bit of personal information that was more than I needed to know. Hmmm! Once her brother was collected and installed in the flat, the fun really began.
My children spoke fluently at a very early age, at about two years. They have also been exposed to adults in social situations at about the same time. My children have always been unusual compared to most in that they were socially competent and conversant with adults from a very young age. My eldest also learned to read at the age of four and would constantly ask me questions about what he was reading or what had been read to him. The retention level of my children has always astounded me and still does to this day as that is something that has not diminished as they have gotten older, in fact quite the opposite. They have always been curious and inquisitive.
I have brought up my children to be really open and there was no topic that was taboo in our house, which is a huge contrast to how I was brought up. My children and I would talk about anything and everything that they wanted to talk about. Dinnertime conversation was certainly unconventional, but also very entertaining. I just drew the line at singing at the dinner table. Talking was ok, singing was not. I vowed that I would never lie to my children if they asked me personal questions. I may not always give them the information that they are fishing for as some of it really isn’t any of their business, but I don’t lie. If they ask my opinion, I will give it to them. If they ask for advice, I will give it to them. We discuss everything. My children were the first in their year to really know where babies came from. It was hard to play that one down since my eldest was given a book from a visit to The Science Museum and at the very end of it the book described, in a very child friendly but accurate way, the story of procreation. He was four and he could read it and he asked me if it was true. I said yes. No more was said, for a while. Then he told his siblings! That was fun!
When my children were growing up and becoming teenagers, I would hear stories about their peers and how the boys and girls were relating to each other. Some of what I heard was quite shocking and huge conversations were had about appropriate behaviour and respect for one’s self and towards others. What I used to think was quite special seemed to be commonplace for children as young as thirteen and I used to worry about my children, especially my daughter, feeling pressured into doing something inappropriate. Fortunately, my worries were for nothing and I feel lucky compared to other parents.
Because the level of communication in our house was quite high, my children feel very comfortable, most of the time, in sharing personal information. Thankfully they don’t share everything, as I really don’t need to know, but just enough to let me know that they are young adults and savvy in the ways of the world, which is still more than a mother needs to know. Sometimes I wonder if they do it to shock me (I am pretty unshockable at my age, I survived the 80’s), for sheer entertainment value, or to check with me to make sure they are not abnormal. If something I hear or see makes me cringe, it isn’t because I am being prudish, but because I am not sure if I really want to know that about my child, for that is how I will always think of them, my children. I will think that way even when they eventually have children of their own. Either way, what I hear usually ends up in some sort of hilarity and that somehow takes the edge off of what I am listening to. Presentation is everything and my children are very good at that. I have to admit that I have laughed my head off already a few times this week.
What I am being told is not really anything new or something I haven’t done, seen, read, or heard about, but I don’t think they want to think that way about me. There is the stock statement that I have only had sex twice, hence how they arrived, and to think that their parents are doing or have done what they may be doing or want to do is something they really don’t want to contemplate. Well, I can tell you it works both ways. I know what they are doing, but I really don’t want to know, and especially not the details, thank you very much. I have way too much information and the imagery is far too much for me sometimes.
My children are living their lives and experiencing things for the first time when I have already been down that road. Falling in love is nothing new to me but is to them. Pain and heartache is something I am well versed in and know it isn’t the end of the world when they surely think it is. I am there for them when they need me and I always tell them they can talk to me about anything. It would be nice sometimes if they could leave out a few details and keep it on a strictly need to know basis – after all, that is what their friends are for.