A mum is knocked off her pedestal

2009-03-17 00:00

Once upon a time, I was all-powerful in my children’s world. I ranked up there with God and Barney the purple dinosaur. I was aware that it wouldn’t last so I relished it while it did. I knew that one day I’d be knocked off my pedestal by one of creation’s most awe-inspiring [and perhaps most awful] authorities: “the teacher”.

And so it came to pass when the children went off to pre-school, that Mum was relegated to a lower rung in the hierarchy of the universe. I was comforted by the fact that Barney was banished to an even lowlier rank, along with other discarded heroes like the Little Red Tractor and Minnie Mouse. At least I no longer had to counter arguments that started with “But Barney says …”

Instead, it became “The teacher says …” As most parents know, to young children at least, teachers are the purveyors of ultimate truth. Offspring down the generations have confidently assumed victory in any disagreements with parental authorities by quoting this annoying little phrase prefaced by that even more annoying little word “But …”

So it is that the Gilroy household is engaged in solemn observance of Lent this year. Why? You guessed it, almost … An even higher authority than the teacher, the headmaster, has decreed it so.

After the headmaster’s talk in assembly, Jason came home from school full of information about Lent and how to observe it. He was even fuller with ideas about what we should all “give up for Lent”. He was sure it would be good for Dad to give up chocolate and being grumpy, while Mum’s soul would definitely benefit from 40 days without coffee and yelling at them. Yeah right.

He lovingly informed his sister that she should give up tea [served with lots of sugar, of course] and being mean to him. You can imagine the reception his ideas received. He really couldn’t understand why we weren’t brimful with enthusiasm to match his new-found religious zeal.

Now Jason is off the scale when it comes to picky eating — I swear there’s rejoicing even in heaven when we discover a new food he’s willing to eat, one that even slightly begins to approach being nutritious and is not just made of fresh air, sugar and MSG. Unsurprisingly, he was keen to give up baked beans for Lent — one of his few sources of protein and roughage. Fortunately the headmaster’s power doesn’t yet reach as far as my kitchen, so I won that round, for now at least.

Score so far: Mum: 1, headmaster: 0. Go Mum!

However, so as not to disappoint my son, I am abstaining from chocolate and Anna has given up mayonnaise, which is quite a hardship — her last meal on death row would be a mayonnaise and cheese sandwich. Dad somehow managed to have an urgent appointment when the details of our Lenten disciplines were negotiated.

After I suggested that Lent could be a time for “taking up” as well as “giving up”, Jason decided to take up being kind. His sister figured that was impossible and runs a daily count-down commentary until he breaks his observance, which naturally involves being anything other than grovellingly obedient to her.

Fortunately, the headmaster doesn’t seem to have gone into the details about the arithmetic of Lent — it’s 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, minus the Sundays in between. This makes Sundays exempt from fasting. I haven’t enlightened the children and I still manage a weekly chocolate fix.

Latest score update: Mum: 2, Headmaster: 0. Viva Mum, viva!

Roll on the weekend!

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