As my children reach the age at which I am able to remember my own parallel childhood experiences, it is becoming increasingly apparent that things seemed so much calmer then.
I have strong, comforting memories of having tea and an iced bun in the bakery with my mum before going to chess club at the library on a Friday evening after school (yes, you heard me – chess club. It was fun actually!). In my head this was always lovely. We had a nice chat, ate our cakes and all was right with the world.
So why is it that I am apparently incapable of recreating this peaceful idyll with my own children? Even the shortest trip to a café will involve at least one snappy exchange, invariably triggered by my pleas for the girls to ‘sit down’, ‘stop shouting’, ‘pull that skirt down so the whole café can’t see your knickers’, ‘stop flicking cake at your sister’……and on and on ad infinitum.
Occasionally I think it is my unwillingness to let anything slide that creates the problems in the first place, so I fight the urge to criticise and attempt to bite my tongue…..for about a minute. Because now, in a public place, I appear to be allowing my children to behave like untrained monsters and the only thing worse than feeling like your children are out of control, is thinking that OTHER PEOPLE think your children are out of control!
My only hope is that things were not actually calmer in my childhood but rather our memories are highly skilled at editing out the small irritations of life. If this is the case, then maybe my children do stand a chance of having comfortingly nostalgic memories of tea and cake with their mother and only I will remember the chaos and trauma……and I will keep those bits to myself.
After all, nostalgia really is a wonderful thing….