Family: Janet Christie’s Mum’s the Word

PIC PHIL WILKINSON.TSPL / JOHNSTON PRESS

JANET CHRISTIE ,  MAGAZINE WRITER
PIC PHIL WILKINSON.TSPL / JOHNSTON PRESS JANET CHRISTIE , MAGAZINE WRITER
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Finally winning the battle of little big coat

What is the problem with wearing a coat? Among The Youth, I mean.

“It’s not cold,” they have been known to say, teeth chattering. Or, “I don’t want to carry it around.” Thought of just wearing it?

“Look where we are on the map,” I’ll say, pointing at the map on my kitchen wall that is useful for being annoying, as well as educational, “and get a coat on, it’s almost Baltic out there.”

This week I enlisted the help of Liam Gallagher, performing his new song at King Tut’s in his trademark parka, playing on my laptop while I’m cooking the tea. “Look, HE likes a coat,” I say. “Although he won’t get the benefit when he goes outside. Maybe he has a second, bigger parka he puts on top.”

“Yeah, it’s not a coat though, that’s his identity,” says Eldest.

“Well it’s a very practical identity,” I say, thinking of Bowie’s one-legged Ziggy Stardust stretch onesie, fabulous yet no good for the footie, or the long walk home after the last bus.

“Would you like a parka, or a big warm coat for Christmas?” I say to Eldest. “You’re going to Munich in January and it’ll be minus something.”

“Aw mum, I’d much rather have a new XBox Game or guitar pedal,” is what he doesn’t say. Instead he floors me with, “Yeah, that would be good.”

Astonishing.

I know very little about parenting but one of the few things I’ve learned in two decades is patience. Wait long enough and they might agree with you, occasionally. And there’s no predicting what the meeting of minds will be about. With me and Youngest it’s an intolerance towards Kevin Bacon (Youngest feels he’s “too much on the telly. Him again,” she’ll say), with Middle it’s often foodstuffs (“shrooms, yaaas”), and with Eldest, the vinyls of my youth (Stiff Little Fingers, Nazareth).

And now, at long last, it’s the advisability of a coat in winter. My work here is almost done.