Monthly Musing – April 2021 – Little boxes
Small daughter was telling me something about her day at school, and laughing so hard at the time that she couldn’t get her words out. It was funny and frustrating at the same time – all I could hear was “middle aged women” and then she collapsed into giggles again.
I decided to wait until she was in a fit state to talk to me so that I could actually hear her, mulling over the words “middle aged women”. We do like to put people in boxes, don’t we? Nice neat categories that tell us who someone is, where they’re from, what they do, how old they are … being rather obstreperous (isn’t that a wonderful word?!) at times, I have often found myself not quite fitting into the neat box (sometimes by design, sometimes by nature), but there’s no denying that they do make life easier.
In some cases, the nice neat box is a diagnosis which can open doors to get the help that you need and they are absolutely essential so don’t worry, I’m not about to go all non-conformist on you – I just don’t like the “at your age and your time of life” type of labels that seem to be getting waved at me right now, any more than the “just a housewife” type of labels that got waved around when my girls (and I) were much younger!
Whenever I think about “labelling” people in a particular way, I always hear a song in my head that my Mum used to play on our old record player when I was little. It’s called “Little Boxes”; there have been many cover versions of the song and the one we had is by a duo called Nina & Frederik. I suspect this song has quite a lot to do with my occasionally obstreperous nature (nothing at all, of course, to do with my occasionally obstreperous Mum! 😀) and I have to remind myself that it’s not always a bad thing – I think it’s important in life that we are able to decide when to fight the current and when to swim with the tide.
Small daughter has finished laughing now and is able to finish her story. It’s long, complicated, involves imaginary conversations between cats and my heart nearly bursts with love for this funny, articulate girl who is growing older every day but is still young enough to have conversations with her friends at school that involve their favourite felines. Even if the words “middle aged women” are bandied around, rather a lot.
“I hope you’re not suggesting that’s me,” I said, jokingly, after she had given her rendition of how she and her friends think this group of women speak, and then added, “although I’m not sure about the definition of “middle aged” these days – I think it’s when you’re about thirty-five these days and I’m past that!”
“Don’t be silly,” small daughter said, dismissively, waving her hands at me as she breezed out of the door to go upstairs. “You’re not middle aged, you’re parent aged.”
Oh, that’s OK then. I’ll take that label, I quite like that one!
|“What do you mean, that’s not helpful? I’m holding your papers down!”|