Family: Janet Christie's Mum's the Word

Hiding under the duvet from bad jokes


Grown men! Grown men!” I hear Youngest Child saying in the kitchen, as I lie on my bed on a weekend afternoon. Apparently there are grown men in my kitchen – maybe they can knock through that wall, lay laminate flooring, install a shower over the bath or some other dated gender-specific tasks.

Youngest continues. “She will NOT be coming through to cook you something. You’re grown men! You can cook it yourselves,” she says.

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“Sexist,” says Eldest Child. “Mu-um,” he shouts through to my bedroom, next door to the kitchen. “She’s calling us ‘grown men’. That’s sexist isn’t it?”

Is it? I’m losing track of what’s politically correct. Yesterday I laughed at Middle Child’s joke (“What do transvestites do at Christmas? Eat, drink and be Mary”) and today I see it on a list of politically incorrect jokes – is this because it makes an assumption of male-to-female crossdressing, not female-to-male, and is therefore sexist? Or is it because transvestism isn’t a subject for humour, but understanding? Or because I’m not a transvestite (I do wear a lot ofmen’s clothing - the boys’ hand-me-down roomy hoodies, T-shirts, but that’s more about being skint and a need for pockets) therefore can’t make those jokes? Middle and I apologise to anyone we may have offended over the past few decades, despite being unaware. We have the utmost respect for everyone, we’re sorry if anyone’s uncomfortable and it’s not reflective of who we are/were. (That should cover it.)

“No, I don’t think calling you grown men is sexist,” I shout back through.

“OK. Racist,” he says.

“It’s not racist either.”

“OK. Offensive. Calling us ‘grown men.’ ”

“Well, you ARE adults – six foot three-ish, in your twenties. I’d say ‘grown men’ covers it.”

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean our mum can’t make us meals, does it?” he says, sounding about ten.

“Aw no sweetie. I love cooking for you,” I say, but don’t move.

“She’s NOT! She needs a rest,” says Youngest. “She’s old.”

Ageist? Maybe, but I’m happy to take that one lying down.