The day didn’t get off to the best of starts. There was a misunderstanding about the appropriateness of the length of my daughter’s shorts. (She is nearly 15, need I say more?) Had my husband and I been in the same room at the time when she came to say goodbye, we may have had the mutual strength to tell her to get changed. However, he left the ball in my court and as the shorts were, hmm, borderline, I kept quiet. (I wouldn’t say I’m petrified of her, just that…no, I am, I’m petrified of her.)
My son is also a dedicated follower of fashion. They are definitely my children – I was there at their conception and birth, as was my husband. I was a tomboy as a child and am still happy in jeans and a t shirt. As for my husband, he gets antsy when he has to buy anything for himself that costs over 5 pounds. So how did we come to have these clothes loving, hair crafting offspring?
My son is eleven and has a hectic social life. Don’t ask me why (well I do know actually, but am trying not to show off) but the girls love him. This is proving rather expensive as this is “The Bat Mitzvah Year.” As well as the presents and the cost of petrol to get our little heart throb there, he also needs the threads. I offered to take him for some new shirts as I was sick of seeing him in the same two. But in our house, there is no gain without pain and new shirts were to come at a price. “If we can sort out your room and bag up some stuff to give to World Jewish Relief, I’ll take you shopping. “ I even gave it some seasonal spin: “we’ll do it for Pesach.”
I see marriage as a partnership. We are a team. We tackle things together. My husband will tell you that he draws the short straw – does the late lifts, makes the early coffee. Don’t listen to him; he married way out of his league, the lucky son of a gun. However, today was not about chauffeuring duties or cooking – today was about something much darker. So back to the bedroom – my son’s bedroom that is. “Tony?” that’s my lucky husband, “how about I do his wardrobe, then you do under his bed while I make lunch?” “Okay,” he replied pleasantly – tidiness and lunch being two of his favourite things.
And so we began the clearout of clothes. It hadn’t been that long since the last session but the wardrobe was jam packed full of stuff. He had trousers galore – not normal jeans, but those twisty ones that make you look like you’re bow legged even though you’re not. Growing I understand, but what got me was the “going off”. However, what was the point of keeping stuff for the sake of it? The likelihood of him ‘going back on it’ was very slim. And then there was the chronological argument: “but I’ve had it a year, Mum!” “Tough, Son.” I replied, “Your father’s got clothes from when he was your age.”
Also in the cupboard were games – fun ones that we could play together like Rummikub and backgammon. I’m not sure how, maybe I could bribe them with that lovely hazelnut paste chocolate, but I’m going to insist that we sit down as a family over Pesach and play them. We all have our own laptops and the best we can manage these days is to watch an obnoxious programme of their choice together (they particularly like those ones about very rich parents spending ten million pounds on 16th birthday parties because that’s how you show your children how much you love them.)
He also has chest of drawers but I now leave them well alone after a very unpleasant experience in 2004. We’d been on a day trip to Southend and my son and his friend had collected some shells and brought them home in a rucksack. I forgot about them, but a few days later noticed that his room had started to smell like Forrest Gump’s boat. I followed my nose to his drawers which were now full of what the French euphemistically call “Fruit de Mers.” I’m not sure what type of sea produce had gone verschimelt in his drawer, but it stank. In fact, my experience of shellfish is very limited, being the nice Jewish girl that I am, and is composed of one prawn that I ate at an office party in 1991. We had a horrible boss and a free bar (ok, so not that horrible.) “What’s the most expensive drink you have?” I asked the bartender. Several cocktails, the aforementioned prawn and an early taxi with two grumpy friends meant that I was back home in bed by 9.30. (Unfortunately, although that is my only seafood story, it is not my only bad drinker one.)
Anyway, one black sack later and I skipped out of the room to make lunch, leaving the boys to tackle the underbed. My work was done, but only for now, as after lunch was the shopping trip. But that’s a story for another day.