Janet Christie’s Mum’s the Word

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It’s all made up anyway, isn’t it?

I lift the pan off the stove and right on cue Eldest Child breezes through the front door, into the kitchen and sits at the table, knife and fork in hand. It’s uncanny. Radio silence then he always arrives just as a meal is being dished up.

“Love it here. Great food,” he says.

So appreciative. How could I even think his thoughts might turn to moving on some day? Shame on me.

“How was your day?” he asks.

I’d love a good moan but he’s from the positive thinking generation so I edit. “Lovely, lots of opportunities, thank you,” I lie. “And yours?”

“Great! Did really interesting stuff at college. Then had a brilliant band practice. Probably the best ever.”

“Oh good,” I say. All this positivity is quite infectious, and since Youngest Child isn’t here for balance (and snorts of dismissal), I go with it.

“Have you got my copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People?” he asks. “I’m going to read it again.”

“Oh yes. Thank you for the loan. I found it very useful but need to think harder how to apply it. Flattering people to get what you want seems wrong. And if they’re behaving badly, why can’t you just put them straight?”

“Because that’s a different book,” he says. This is How to Win Friends and Influence People. Not How to Be 100 per cent Honest And Put People Straight. But yes, treating people how you want to be treated is good.”

“That’s what Youngest said, remember, when we were doing her maxims for life homework?”


“And you said ‘make every day count’.”


“You did. I put it in my column...”

“You make that up anyway…” he says, straying from Winning Friends into Putting People Straight territory.

“I do not! I never write anything you don’t say,” I say.

“You’ll probably put this stuff in, and it’ll be all made up,” he says.

And then he continues: “Anyway, never mind that. We’ve got a record deal and I’ve bought you that house in Spain. Everything’s going to be OK.”