‘Bye!’ said my 13-yr-old daughter cheerily as she prepared to leave the house to go for a swim in the outdoor pool. She opened the front door and was almost knocked back in by sheets of torrential rain.
‘You’re not wearing a coat’ I observed. ‘You’ll get wet’.
‘Oh it doesn’t matter mum. I’m going to get wet in the pool anyway’.
‘YOU ARE NOT LEAVING THIS HOUSE WITHOUT A COAT ON YOUNG LADY’.
She and my oldest son fell about laughing. They always do when I pretend to be a real parent and come out with one of the stock phrases from the Parenting Language Phrasebook.
‘But mum..!’ she spluttered.
‘I’m serious. You do not leave this house until you are wearing a suitable rain-resistant OUTER GARMENT’.
‘But I don’t mind getting wet’.
‘Well I mind you walking through the streets looking for all the world like you have a bad mother. You are a walking advertisement for my parenting skills and I will not have you proclaiming to the world that your mother doesn’t care enough to make sure you are clothed to reflect the weather conditions. Think about my credibility’.
‘Mum’ll lose her job, nobody will come to her courses anymore’ said Oldest Son helpfully.
‘Right!’ I said ‘Think about your responsibility to the family income’.
She’d got her coat on by then.
‘If it stops raining I’m going to have to CARRY IT!’ she said, rolling her eyes at the prospect of that amount of inconvenience in her life.
‘Yeah’ I said. ‘Bye darling, have a lovely time’.
And off she skipped.
I wondered how the equation of ‘The Inconvenience of Carrying a Coat’ over ‘The Indignity of Wearing a Coat’ would play out in the head of a teenage girl and whether the working out of that calculation had taken her all the way to the pool. Or whether the coat had come off before she reached the end of the street…