Janet Christie's Mum's the Word - When the only way to get things done is to stay out of it

Youngest embraces a can-do attitude

Mum's the Word. Pic: Getty Images
Mum's the Word. Pic: Getty Images

“The only way to get things done around here is to do them yourself.”

Not me speaking, but Youngest Child, stalking the morning hallway, seizing the day by the throat as I lie in bed drinking my first cup of tea.

“What?” I say. “What is it that needs doing?”, aware she’s entering the bathroom where there are probably multiple things requiring attention and organization. As parent guilt swoops down and claims me it’s closely followed by the landing of further guilt that maybe she’s picked up the expression from me. My mum used to say that. Am I turning into my mother (no bad thing)? Is Youngest Child turning into me?

Advertisement

Hide Ad

“S’ok. I’ll do it myself,” she says, bristling competence. “I asked Eldest Child…”

So, not the bathroom then, but I probably should water the plant, fold the towels, buy toilet paper, bleach the grouting…

“... said he was going to do something I asked him, but he’s not done it, and now he’s been chatting in our group chat about other things, gigs and cinema and stuff.”

“So phone him,” I say.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

“No. It’s easier just to do it myself.”

“OK. I’ll stay out of it,” I say, off the hook.

“Good.”

One of the best things about offspring becoming adults is the acknowledgement that me stepping in will only make a situation worse, particularly if it’s intersibling.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

“I’ll do it myself. It’s the only way to get things done around here,” she says cheerfully resolute.

She’s said it again, and sounds so like her grandmother who she never met, that I can’t let it lie.

“Why are you using that expression?” I ask, spooked.

“Everyone says that.”

Advertisement

Hide Ad

“Do they? I don’t. Do I?” I’m hoping I’ll get a negative. I’m not that efficient at getting ‘things done around here’ so avoid declarations of intent. And who wants to be a parent who slams around the house sniping, “It’s fine! You just keep watching your screen, I’ll do it,” at supine family members. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into becoming oblivious.

“No, you don’t say it,” she says.

“Good.”

“But then… I don’t hear a lot of things you say.”

Advertisement

Hide Ad

“So even if I did say it, you wouldn’t notice?” I ask.

Silence. There’s my answer.

Read More

Read More
Janet Christie's Mum's the Word