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May 14, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Mulled Whine With H.G. Beattie

My Parents Knew Best

The realisation that my parents were fallible was for me the hardest thing about “coming of age”. Actually, it might have come a close second to the emergence of an apparently hereditary she-stache. Word to my mother: if Dad shouted you electrolysis, consider my own a follow-up cost. There is a real loss of innocence in discovering that your mother and father are no Carol and Mike Brady. Your parents did dumb shit and were hung up on dumb people and thought that the Government had money to burn and thus shouldn’t sell assets, just like you do. The only difference is that they threw up in the gutter outside an Exponents gig instead of outside Sandwiches.

And yet, if they’re so fallible—if my mother owns a fanny pack that has a hook for the dog’s lead attached to it, and my dad has an inexplicable penchant for checked Billabong shorts—how do they always manage to know what I should do in any given situation? If they make up two more of the poor unfortunate souls (gratuitous Sea Witch reference) that constitute most adults, then why are they always right?

Ignoring the obvious response, which is “Shut up, you tool, your problems are insignificant and your hair is greasy”, I think that the answer is to be found in my weird adolescence. My parents were never the enemy. They said things like “So no-one understands you? Go and have a listen to that disco panic band you like so much.” And they didn’t even get mad when I responded, mid-sob, with “You-are-so-uncool-their-name-is-Panic-exclamation-point-at-the-Disco.” My subsequent gratitude for their parental understanding has led me to defer to authority figures more than most. Cue the inevitable attraction to Steven Joyce. (You think that was a joke, don’t you? How sweet.)

A more practical theory for my parent-centric adolescence might be that our house backed onto a gully. Any sneaking out would have required tramping boots. Consequently, I spent no Saturday nights getting to know a Coll boy over four–not five–Archer’s mixers. Talk about writing tragedies not sins.

My mother, whose lack of formal employment I used to consider a flaw, was pulled over for speeding a few years ago and asked for her occupation. I cackled—like the dick that I am—from the passenger seat. Fuckssake, PC Plod. She doesn’t ‘not work’, she ‘has a myriad of skills that have never translated into a career’ (Ultimate party line. Can you tell that my father used to be a speechwriter?). To ungraciously reconcile that anecdote with a broader point, the acknowledgment that your parents are flawed requires subsequent acceptance that their shortcomings might just be things that you can’t contextualize at this stage of your life. Unsurprisingly, this recognition is not limited to one’s parents. Look, everyone is broken. Go back to bed.

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