The children and I were chatting idly about life and stuff the other day, when Child Two piped up. ‘I want to find a nice boyfriend at university,’ she confided.
Fair enough, I thought, and not at all difficult to achieve. University was, I dimly remember, a place uniquely well-stocked with potential boyfriends in my young day, several millennia ago – though, looking back on it, I’m not sure how many were nice.
‘Why do you want a boyfriend?’ Child One asked her. Child One has already informed me that my example has put her off men for life.
‘I want to get married straight after university, so that I’ll never have to get a job,’ said Child Two blithely.
Has it come to this? And what have I done? It’s all very well for Child One to forswear men – frankly, it’s a relief, as she is already ridiculously gorgeous and I am not looking forward to the succession of ghastly pimply suitors who will inevitably besiege Divorce Towers, as not one of them – NOT ONE, do you hear – will ever be good enough for my perfect, lovely girl. But for Child Two to be hoping to lasso a mealticket when she is still just a speck of a thing is, quite honestly, extremely disturbing. Was it for this that Emily Davison threw herself under the king’s horse at the 1913 Derby? Did the Pankhursts chain themselves to all those horrid cold railings in vain? Was Andrea Dworkin strapping on those dungarees for nothing??
But, before asking those big questions, I had to check something with Child Two. ‘You do know that Mummy works, don’t you, darling?’ I trilled. Well, it’s true. In between surfing eBay, writing this blog, fretting about my dearest darling True Love, ferrying the little dears to their bassoon classes and searching in the undergrowth for imaginary pumas (see Beast of Herne Hill and Guardian Angels entries) I have been known to knock out the odd thought-provoking article.
‘Yes, I know you work,’ said Child Two, in ‘more fool you’ tones. ‘But lots of Mummies don’t. Like X, Y and Z. And A, B and C. And they seem to have a really nice time. They shop,’ said Child Two wistfully.
‘I’m sure they do, darling. But it’s nice to do something really useful with your life, too,’ I said, bracingly, as I juggle my eBay bids. I have two promisingly cheap indoor rabbit hutches on the go.
‘I think shopping is very useful. Isn’t everyone sad because no-one is shopping enough at the moment?’
I cannot fault this excellent analysis of the current economic downturn – so much more concise than any of those endless economics editors on Newsnight. Ah well, if I can see my darling Child Two as the saviour of the British economy, I suppose I can reconcile myself to her total lack of interest in anything even resembling a career.
But it does bring it all home. I so don’t want my babies to start dating. Love can be a painful business. I’m not sure I can sit and watch my own dear treasures making this discovery for themselves. I make a mental note that I must start laying in stocks of Kleenex for the darlings – and, for their swains, a nice big Khalashnikov.