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!

A black cat is lying on a wooden table on top of some papers next to a computer and a box of receipts

“What do you mean, that’s not helpful?  I’m holding your papers down!”

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11 Responses

  1. Susan Rayner says:

    I listened to that song on constant repeat when it came out in the mid 60s! I am now 73 and not middle aged yet! Not really any aged – just me!
    Have a happy Bank Holiday weekend!

  2. shine says:

    I remember Little Boxes – my Dad used to play it when we were young – the Pete Seeger version I think. Thanks for all the sock support you provide!

  3. AnnB says:

    Love that song and like Susan, not old and still parent/nan age. Thanks for kitchener stitch

  4. happy hooker says:

    Age is a state of mind. I remember when I was nursing (many years ago now) and old ladies would say "I still feel 18." I used to think, "How can you? You've lived a long life, been married, had children, grandchildren and sometimes great-grandchildren." I now know what they meant. The body ages, but the mind, if you're lucky, stays young. xx

  5. Avie says:

    Ooh, love your sheepy mouse pad. Do you know where they are sold (or is it vintage?)

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It's actually a coaster (everything got pushed out of the way by our daft cat!) and we have a mixed set of coasters and placements by the same artist. He's called Thomas Joseph and his website is The mat you can see there is called "Hand Wash Only". There isn't the same set that we have on the website but they're very similar in style and I love those big fat sheep! xx

    • Avie says:

      Thanks heaps, Christine, will check it out xx

  6. selina says:

    LOL awesome

  7. Judith says:

    I'm a bit late (have just been catching up on emails due to a couple of very busy weeks) but just wanted to say thank you Christine for the Kitchener Stitch guide. I have knitted about a dozen pairs of your basic sockalong pattern now – every time I finish a pair, I think I'll remember the Kitchener next time, then next time I have to look it up again!! This will be in my knitting basket and will be easy to refer to. Maybe one day I'll be able to remember how to do it!

  8. StitchyKate says:

    I do love the word obstreperous. I haven't heard it for years. I think it's very strange that our generation is now middle aged. I know I am and it happens to us all – if we are lucky – but at the same time I still feel like my inner younger self re-emerges if I start behaving in too much of a middle aged way! Xx

  9. Unknown says:

    My Mum also loved that song though I'm not sure what version she had. I'm loving the phrase 'parent-aged'. That's me too then!

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