Bitch on the Blog

July 11, 2012

Mea culpa

Filed under: Errors — bitchontheblog @ 12:14
Tags: , , ,

The most delicious anecdotes are made of shameful secrets. Thus can’t be told.

It’s a pity. Jewels of our life’s narrative lost. At the price of pride kept intact.

Two years ago my son – post A Levels and two minutes later already in work – spent the summer in a student house. One city up from where I was packing up our home. Am now in two minds whether to tell you this abysmal example of my abysmal parenting: I receive a call. From him. A cry for help. If ever there was one.

To paint the scene: Five students. One, Jonathan, who I got to know well – oh, did he and I bond over hygiene, lovely guy, heavily into music – had no truck with his housemates (like my son) who couldn’t be arsed to do their own washing up. So when the Angel and one of his friends in the house swanned off to some soggy mudfest in the name of music, Jonathan put all their dirty dishes into a large plastic container and stored it in the understairs cupboard. Talk about tough love.

By the time the Angel and his friend returned there were maggots (where maggots materialise from in an understairs cupboard – in three days flat –  I do not know). The Angel does not like to get his hands dirty. Even when I was down with two broken arms in plaster, unable to do anything, it was his girlfriend who did my washing up. Unasked.

Don’t judge him too harshly. It’s all my fault. So him panicking over maggots (and not having a clean plate to eat off)  I told him to put the crate outside on the patio. Got myself on the next train, hosed down maggots, washed plates like the devil possessed. In the privacy of my own company. Yes, really. Don’t say anything. I don’t want to hear it.

Jonathan who had a more realistic upbringing only shook his head. As I did mine. What a failure of a mother am I? If the Angel had been a girl which thank god he wasn’t – since I prefer one son to a gaggle of geese – he’d been scrubbing the floor and everything else by age ten. As did I – no, no reason to enter violins: Knowing how to scrub a floor and how to avoid maggots is a life skill. One which, so far, I have not managed to pass on to the Apple of my Eye.

It’s a ploy of mine, a life saver: As long as he doesn’t know how to iron a shirt I can’t just lie down and die. Can I?

Brilliant. So proud of myself.




  1. Ah! That’s where my mother went wrong she had me on my knees scrubbing the floor and polishing the linoleum well before I was eight years of age…. every Saturday morning…… and polishing the furniture and cleaning windows. The latter two are jobs I still enjoy from time to time.
    Thanks for Jonathan’s tip though….. Youngest and his attachment may well discover there is a lack of dishes some time soon.
    Notice to go above kitchen sink “If you use You wash it. Immediately after use!”

    Comment by David — July 11, 2012 @ 13:48 | Reply

    • Obviously, your mother was made of stainless steel where I am fluff in the summer breeze.

      Notice above your sink should read: “Beware maggots”. That’ll startle them into paying attention.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — July 11, 2012 @ 16:01 | Reply

  2. Parenting has its own joys Ursula. The POW still can depend on his father to clean up after him. And he is 41! Now I am also parenting my 95 year old father and that is another experience altogether. I am having fun.

    Comment by rummuser — July 11, 2012 @ 15:17 | Reply

    • Parenting has so many joys, Ramana. So many. It’s now been nearly twenty one years and from day one the Angel made it so very easy for me to be a mother. His mother. Yes, a joy if ever there was one. The umbilical cord, slowly but steadily, unravelling. A process we both take in our stride.

      As I have said to you before: Whether I could do what you do for your father I doubt very much. Who knows. The question is unlikely to arise since both my parents are extremely fit, oxens to be felled like trees when the time comes. And myself being geographically removed I do have three siblings round the corner from them. My father holds his own counsel and I haven’t asked him yet, but my mother is quite open about the fact that she’d put an end to it before she’d ever become her children’s burden.

      Which reminds me: Wasn’t it Conrad who described himself as the middle of the sandwich (his Dad and his son on either side) just before his father died? A touching sentiment.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — July 11, 2012 @ 16:35 | Reply

      • Sadly, that too was me. The exact word was the butter in the middle.

        Comment by rummuser — July 12, 2012 @ 15:00 | Reply

  3. I wanted my sons to do housework, but they had an outside door from their bedroom & they escaped when I was calling for help. They still got some training from me & their wives.

    Comment by bikehikebabe — July 11, 2012 @ 15:25 | Reply

    • It’s vexing. I am very happy to do anything for my son and his friends, as and when the need arises. What I am more worried about (see my post) that I will have let him down by not having taught him the elementaries of how to run a household. He tells me he’ll survive. And I am sure he will. Still, and please do laugh if you want: I am compiling a “how to”, in case I snuff it. Why let people reinvent the wheel by bitter experience when it’s all been tried and tested before? Let’s hope he’ll read it.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — July 11, 2012 @ 17:05 | Reply

  4. I could have used a handy list like the one you are thinking about compiling. First few years in college I lived in a dorm, before moving out to an apartment. Ah, my first apartment. Freedom! And the things you learn once out on your own. For example – the dishes actually remain exactly where you left them the night before. Unheard of! And of course, the clean ones do run out. Never happened at home?!? Had to run to the market to get a stack of paper plates – wasn’t sure what to do with the dirty ones. I won’t even mention the roasting pan I accidentally left in the oven after broiling a nice steak. Oh, I just did…

    I tried calling my mother for help, but she told me this was good training – not to expect my wife to pick up where she left off. What a traitor! I will say it was quite a learning experience.

    Comment by Phil — July 11, 2012 @ 19:59 | Reply

    • Paper plates? Bloody hell, Phil.You are crafty, aren’t you? If it didn’t contribute to landfill (which the Angel is peculiarly sensitive about – no doubt my influence; not that it stops him from buying ready made meals in hideous containers) then he’d be there like a shot. Why pollute the Earth he doesn’t want the children (he doesn’t want) to inherit whilst he has his mother?

      Also wives are not what they used to be. I was a prototype. Best of you know which country’s engineering.

      Then my son’s father married an American. Now he does all the housework. No bull. How she managed to make him see the light of a dishwasher I do not know. I take my hat off to her. One of the true blips in my autobiography and people – and I – cannot believe this happened when he asked me to clean his flat top to bottom (this was two years after we had separated) on arrival of his American bride and her mother. “Americans are very particular”, he said to me. Really? Well, if he got professional cleaners in after my efforts at least he had the decency not to tell me.


      Comment by Ursula — July 12, 2012 @ 04:13 | Reply

      • Heaven: An American salary, an English home, a Chinese chef, and a Japanese wife.

        Hell: A Chinese salary, a Japanese home, an English cook, and an American wife.

        (I’d hang around and chat some more, but I hear my wife muttering something about the kitchen knives needing some sharpening…)

        Comment by Phil — July 12, 2012 @ 20:36 | Reply

        • Yeah, Phil. But what of Americans taking a holiday? I understand they are so frightened of finding themselves replaceable they are reluctant to leave their desks.

          What’s it with the Japanese wife? Please don’t answer that. I remember a friend who married a Thai girl (you can’t call them women). It was hard work to visit them for dinner. The food was good. The constant politeness (and his lording) exhausting.

          I shall now go to work on my own idea of paradise and will let you know in due course what floats my boat.


          Comment by Ursula — July 13, 2012 @ 03:44 | Reply

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