Friday, 27 January 2012

LET THEM EAT TWIXES

Class differences are rife in parenting. For a start, you only call it 'parenting' if you earn over £20 grand a year and have money to invest in Keep Calm and Eat A Cupcake signs. Middle class mums pander to the every need of Millie, Francois and Hericlitus, following them about as they reach 'developmental milestones'. Meanwhile, the rest of the world drag their children around behind them while they argue into their Nokias, occasionally stopping to give them a well-deserved kick up the arse.

It's typically superior of the middle class to imagine they're doing things right and the underclass are ill-bred swines who create the devil's spawn. The middle-class mothering mafia might think they've got the edge with their tupperware and Ugg Boots, but just look at their progeny - flinging babyccinos around and running amok in art galleries, wiping snot on the Rothkos. Just because they have tangled hair and applique Boden tops with cute pirates on them doesn't mean they're not odious little shits. Meanwhile, if you're called Jayden and have a mini Celtic strip and an alcoholic Dad who owns a samurai sword, you're a menace to society. It's not fair.

It's time we stopped vilifying working-class children. Remember when David Cameron made all those speeches about Britain's families opening their curtains and going to work? Forget it. There's a lot to be said about not having a job and being around to look after your kids. Big families, lots of support, time to go to the park. So what if the baby's eating a Twix?

I think the middle-class and the working class need to work together and form a new wave of tolerant, enlightened parenting, which gets the balance right between over-attentive fawning and outright neglect. Working class people can teach the middle class to give their kids loads of sweets, put them on the bouncy castle and stop worrying so much. In turn, the middle class can teach them about dental health, Twitter and amusing Emma Bridgewater tea towels.

When this cross-cultural parenting is done right it's a joy. One of my heroes is a mother who wouldn't be seen dead fondling the heart-shaped silicon bakeware at John Lewis. My son has a friend at nursery who we'll call Lee. I invited him to my son's birthday party, and because I'm so hopelessly middle class I thought maybe she'd show up with him and hang around for a glass of wine. But no. Instead he turned up with his granny, who gave me a Toy Story bag, said: 'if he has any accidents, here's a spare pair of pants,' and fucked off. Three hours later, Lee's ma rocked up, hungover to buggery, with a lovebite the size of Canada.

And do you know what? Her son was the most charming and well-behaved boy at the party. Now THAT'S the way you do it.

15 comments:

  1. Love it. I want to print this out and staple it to my boss's forehead.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Haha, well said!
    I would consider myself part of the slack middle class - educated enough to know and do better but too lazy. Ohhh the kids are alright, a bit of benign neglect doesn't hurt 'em! I read an interview with Michael J Fox who said his approach to parenting is "Love 'em, feed 'em, keep 'em out of traffic". I have adopted this as my motto!
    I know a few horrid kids from both ends of the spectrum, but I suspect most of us are bumbling around in the middle trying in a half-arsed way to do a decent enough job of bringing the little buggers up while not totally losing our own identity in the process. xx

    ReplyDelete
  3. Spot on and very funny as per. Feral is it? Try hanging around the Waitrose check-out you'll see feral with a sense of ENTITLEMENT. Bleeeurgh.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Spot on. Coming from a working class background, I'm constantly dumbfounded by my posher friends stressing out because Ivan won't wear a coat / long trousers etc. Let him freeze, won't do him any harm and he'll know better next time I always say. I am frowned upon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. brilliant. There should be more of it. Send em down the mine!

      Delete
  5. Overheard in Holland Park 'Zeus, Zeus darling please wait, Aphrodite's fallen over' ...

    Love this post. Looking after kids is hard to do well for all of us, if we're honest. It's mostly a matter of kindness and energy, it seems to me. No group has a monopoly on either of those! Thanks for this.

    Cathy x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my God that's AMAZING. And yes, you're right - where do you get kindness and energy again? Do Lidl have an offer on? xxx

      Delete
    2. Boden stocks a full range ... Lidl has some good copies but the energy tends to fade on washing (unlike Boden) and the kindness wears a little thin at the edges. Oh

      Delete
  6. Oooohh!!! The Ugg boot posse! scary when I first encountered it, coming as though from the Bronx to the Hamptons (from Stratford, East London to Woking, Surrey), and being less than middle-class (Greek working class).

    Under all that Brazilian blow-dried hair and the outsized designed handbags are sometimes some very nice people, and others who smile the rather tight, gritted tolerant sort of grimace.

    Working class Greeks will tell you, don't work that extra set of smile muscles unless you 100% like someone.

    There is something very comforting about the 'rude' shrugging or grunting that passes as an exchange on the continent, something democratic about it, safe and secure. Constant pleases and thank yous and glaring smiles can grate in an American saccarine way...

    ReplyDelete
  7. You rock Lucy Sweet! Forget the new novel run for MP!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha! Me vs Mensch - wrestle to the death. x

      Delete
  8. I luffed this blog post. Well, I luff them all, actually and am so glad to see that you are writing more of them.

    My son had a friend whose mother was, shall we say, feckless. There were three children. The eldest used to come around to ours with no jacket, smelly, sometimes lousy. I invited him to stay overnight so that he could have a bath and shampoo his hair. He was a lovely child. Then she met a man (on the internet) and upped sticks overnight to Ireland taking two of the children with her. The third, who was in hospital, she just left behind for a few months. My son and I often think about his little friend and I worry, worry, worry, that he'll just fall between the cracks as he grows up.

    Ali x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. God, that's heartbreaking. I hope he's ok.

      Delete
  9. Lucy - your book Coming Apart At The Seams arrived and I have just finished reading it as I was dressing my son as Popeye for World Book Day at school today.

    I loved it. Get writing some more. Am off to order Have Love Will Travel.

    Ali x

    ReplyDelete