My mother used to say a lot of things when I was growing up. I was baffled by a lot of them but now I get it. I totally get it.
Two of her mammy-isms are very topical so I will start with this one.
Us: What do you want for your birthday/Christmas?
Her: The house to myself/peace and quiet.
As a clueless pre-teen I was absolutely thrown by her answer. What on earth would she find to do in an empty house? Sit there and drink tea? Watch TV? Read a book? She never reads. Anything. Peace and quiet? Tsk. How boring is that? Would she not ask for some new make-up, chocolates or perfume or something?
So one year, stumped, I gave her a kitchen weighing scales (I know!) and I made a Baked Alaska. The first one I ever made.
I hadn’t a notion about quantities so I used maybe a dozen egg whites, a huge shop bought flan base and a tonne of ice-cream.
It was huge. I mean, massive. Think ski slope for Barbie dolls. The top of it got knocked off as I put it in the oven.
But it also got eaten.
The other thing she used to ask us was on Christmas morning.
Her: Well? What do you think? Do you like everything?
Me: Yeah. It’s great. (In my head I was thinking: why is she asking us that like it would be her fault if Santy fucked up?) For the record, Santy never fucked up. Never.
Now years later, that seemingly mental birthday request of getting the house to herself makes perfect sense.
And the fog has also lifted on the “do you like everything?” enquiry.
Somehow when you are laying out the DS consoles, boxes of Lego, books, magazines, bits and pieces for your kids on Christmas Eve, five hundred euros worth at least, it looks less.
A lot less.
It looks mean.
Everything is swallowed up by the leather armchair. Books sliding down the back of it and refusing to be propped up in an attempt to make everything look “more.”
Will they like it? Are they too young for DS consoles even if there is always a crazy rush and an inevitable fight for Mister Husband’s phone when he comes home in the evenings?
Will Oldest Boy be disappointed because he got a mini Bop It instead of the full grown one? Will the dog take a bite out of the space hopper before mid-day?
Will they fight over their books? Will they like their laminated cinema tickets with instructions for me to take them to see Rise of the Guardians over the holidays?
What about the nifty little lights that Velcro to their finger and have three settings? The ones I smuggled out of The Art and Hobby Shop that very day because they wanted them?
Would they remember them and be delighted that Santy “knew?”
I know now why my mother asked us those questions on Christmas morning because for the second year in a row, I found myself asking our lads the same ones.
Now I know.