My parents

Posted on 11 December 2004

It’s early Saturday morning and I slept poorly last night after going to the airport with my baby sister Bev and my niece Emily to pick up my mum and dad. We had been warned that they were frail and I expected to see my dad in a wheelchair but although he had a cane, he walked well and looked good for a man who will celebrate his 82nd birthday Christmas Eve. My mum complained of arthritis but it was not obvious in her movements. It’s been over six months since I’ve seen them and I will make an extra effort to spend time with them in the holiday season – to relieve Bev who is busy enough with three little ones and to show them that they are dear to me. (Lawrence Durrell wrote that children are barometers of time. I think parents are too. We see ourselves grow older as we watch them creep into old age.)

On Tuesday, I will return to the airport for my daughter who I haven’t seen for almost four months. I have missed her so. She wrote in her blog that I am generous and protective of her, that my mum told her that she was “spoiled” as a little girl and she links spoiled with food rotting and doesn’t like the comparison. I think my mum is coming from a generation that believed “spare the rod and spoil the child” although I remember only once being humiliated by a beating from my father.

Princeton University’s online dictionary gives three definitions for “spoiled.” The first is “treated with excessive indulgence.” The second, “having the character or disposition harmed by pampering or oversolicitous attention” and last, “(of foodstuffs) not in an edible or usable condition.”

I don’t think any of my/our children are or have been spoiled according to these definitons. I know Rob and I have been thoughtless at times – too involved in our own lives – but for the most part, we have consciously tried to listen to them, to treat them as individuals, and to give them equal attention. This may sound corny but I’ll say it anyway: we are surprised and grateful that our three offsprings are who they are – so different and yet all three are creative caring adults. We adore them.

And if any one of our three need protection from the weather, we will provide it, whatever “it” is. I do not consider this being excessively indulgent.

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