Tough talking at Divorce Towers yesterday. I was having a chat with the girls about life, growing up and stuff, and they were entering that fantasy realm, which I love, planning their future lives. Child Two used to say she would live next door to me but I notice she’s thinking of the other side of London these days. They have very different views of what they want to be when they grow up, both with quite plausible career paths mapped out, though neither, sadly, wants to keep me in the luxury I so clearly deserve by becoming a plastic surgeon or a lawyer. Probably just as well as I am right off lawyers at the moment and I’m not ready for surgery yet. Well, not quite.
Then Child One rather surprised me by saying, ‘…..and, of course, I want to be a fun mum.’
I should have known, from her tone, not to follow this particular conversational hare but I crashed forward. ‘Am I not a fun mum, then?’ I asked brightly, obviously expecting a torrent of reassurance.
Eventually, Child Two piped up. ‘Well, you can be a bit fun. Sometimes.’
Then, probably because I was quite hurt, though I was trying to be brave and not show it too much, we ended up in a big argument and I shouted rather a lot, which I never really do. So then they felt they were justified in stomping out, yelling back in delightfully sarcastic teenage tones, ‘yeah, you’re so much fun, Mum.’ Harrumph.
Obviously I’ve been thinking about it all since then and I have to say they are right, I am no fun. It’s partly circumstances – the divorce, though I brought it all on myself, or on everyone around me, was the absolute definition of No Fun At All – squared. Relations with everyone concerned (ie Mr X, though of course I never mention him now that this blog is squeakier clean than a jumbo tub of hand sanitiser) have been, at very best, frosty ever since. The fall-out from the divorce and subsequent two years of psychotherapy have also been zero fun, involving me facing up to the fact that I was depressed, analysing the causes of the depression (deep shudder) and then, trying to do something about the depression, with mixed results. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even brought up myself to have fun – my childhood was horrible (though whose wasn’t?) and fun was definitely something other people were having, somewhere else, a long way away.
Child Two once said, when asked if she had had fun seeing a close relative, ‘Oh no, they don’t approve of fun,’ which rather sums it up. I, on the other hand, do approve of fun – it’s just that I’m not sure how to get it.
Of course, there are problems with the relentless pursuit of fun. As the parent who does all the crap – the homework, the music practice, making a borderline sick/malingering child go to school, forcing the writing of thank-you letters – I can’t be the girls’ best friend as well as the slavemaster-in-chief. And I don’t want to be one of those sad 40-somethings who tries to be taken for their daughters’ chums or, worse, desperately wants people to say, ‘oh, I thought you were sisters.’ I am their mother and, much as I sometimes want to put my feet up and let them do what the hell they like, I can’t. I am the one in charge, and that’s that.
Mind you, though they may well think they endure endless suffering, I do manage to sneak the odd bit of sheer, senseless pleasure into the girls’ lives. Tomorrow, we are off to the wonderland that is the Glades shopping centre in Bromley, to try on every single thing in Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins and New Look. If that’s not teenage fun, then I just don’t know what is.