The other day I got the call. Dad was out the front of my workplace with a big cooler bag stuffed full of home-cooked food. Among the containers of braised tofu and stuffed eggplant was an extra treat from Mum: a gingerbread rabbit topped with pink icing.
Me spoilt? Just a little bit. This article I wrote for the Letters Anthology is long overdue.
Mother, Father – I’m sorry I was such an ungrateful teenage sloth.
As teenagers go I was ok. I said no to drugs and was more interested in homework than shoplifting. However one thing I failed at miserably was parental appreciation. And now it’s time to make amends for this and to say: thank you.
You both worked extremely hard and after a full day of thankless office warfare and a dreary commute home, it must have cheered you to be greeted by “I’m bored/thirsty/hungry” the millisecond you set foot into the house.
My brother and I – teens of leisure that we were – would have spent the afternoon welded to the couch Jabba the Hut-style, watching Bewitched reruns and covered in biscuit crumbs. Without fail, every mug would have been used and your basic instructions ‘6pm turn on oven. 6.15pm – insert lasagna’ would have been ignored.
Despite our lack of domestic initiative, you turned out banquet-style dinners every night. How many chicken fillets and broccoli florets did you chop, marinate and sautée for us only to savage in five seconds of horrifying teenage savagery while you begged us to chew. This feeding frenzy would have been immediately followed up with a ‘what’s for dessert?’ and your answer of ‘fruit’ would have been met with ungracious jeers.
You also put on a hot breakfast every day as you firmly believed this was the route to academic success (it worked for one of us!). Every day we enjoyed chicken noodle soups, French toast, fried rice… Twenty years later, as I poke around my pantry and see half a gherkin and some tumbleweed, I think of those halcyon days when I breakfasted like a queen.
Then there was the chauffeur service. As responsible parents you ferried me to and from every party to protect me from predatory boyfolk (though given my braces and bad skin, the risk was negligible). What a pain it must have been to drive out to a far-flung suburbs at midnight to pick up your sulking daughter. In addition, every journey had at least 30 extra minutes bolted on too. “Can we drop Toby, Sally, Michelle and Peter home?” I’d ask, while all of the above hovered about the car smelling of Lynx deodorant and cheap alcohol.
As the time fast approaches for me to have my first (no doubt angelic and appreciative) child, it causes me to reflect on how grateful I am for my stable suburban upbringing.
While there is no trauma or intriguing bohemian lifestyle to fuel my million dollar book deal, you ensured my brother and I launched into the world over-nourished, optimistic and eager to laugh.