I found myself having a Saturday evening alone with my twelve-year-old daughter yesterday. At around 9pm I observed vaguely that it would be quite nice if we had some chocolate in the house, not realising that this would be interpreted as a call to action. Within minutes we were out of the house and on our way to the local supermarket on a mission. We spent ages before deciding on a real, actual, grown-up box of chocolates to share. (Not a huge box…). We spent the rest of the evening eating the lot, before stumbling off to bed, both feeling a bit sick but happy.
I knew that what we did was on my unconscious Things You Are Not Allowed To Do list because on the way to the supermarket I caught myself thinking ‘We’re allowed to do this’.
I suppose the list has its uses, otherwise we’d both be enormous blobs by now.
There are other Things You Are Not Allowed lists, and one I come across a lot in my work is the Things You Are Not Allowed to Say to Your Children list, which seems to have grown bigger and bigger over the years. This is obviously good in some ways, but it can be stifling to our individual personalities, and inhibit spontaneity and authenticity and humour and all of that important stuff.
I recently came across a quote from the mother of Nora Ephron, the brilliant film director and screenwriter who died this week, and I’ll share here her response to the young Nora’s whingeing:
‘Your whingeing is putting me off my Martini, come back when you’ve honed your heartbreak into a witty story’.
I think that sort of quote may be high on the ‘Things You Are not Allowed to Recommend on a Parenting Blog’ list.
But Ephron later said ‘I now think it was one of the greatest survival gifts that anyone can be given’. She proceeded to create strong, humorous opinionated heroines in her movies, and she gave this advice to the young women of her old college: ‘Be the heroine of your life, not the victim’.
I dedicate this week’s blog to her!