Ruth Walker: It’s that look - the Kathy Bates look
Some are accompanied by crude little drawings – in crayon or glitter paint – or illustrated with love-heart stickers. They might be a bit scrunched up, having been slid under my bedroom door before she ran away to hide under her duvet in embarrassment.
I kept these cute messages of affection or anger or frustration – unlike the many crappy Christmas tree decs, potato printings and plaster of Paris Disney figures that were tossed in landfill the moment my little treasures switched their attention to the next creative enterprise. (Among the things I kept, a primitive set of wind chimes springs to mind, as does a “bust” of Tinie Tempah that looked more like Howard from the Halifax adverts, and a mirror whose edges were so sharp it surely broke all kinds of school health and safety rules). Occasionally I’ll come across one unexpectedly and it’ll bring a tear to my glass eye. So much has changed; my babies nearly adults, me approaching – gulp! – my fifties.
One particular note came to mind recently – stained, I fancy, with her tears of emotion as she struggled to put into words how she felt. It went something like this.
“Dear Mum. When we talked yesterday about how, one day, I would move out of this house with you to live with friends or flatmates it made me sad, because I love you so much and I can’t imagine ever living anywhere else but with you. I want to stay with you FOR EVER.”
It’d melt your heart, wouldn’t it? So much love. Except I’m beginning to think that, actually, she might have meant it. Now aged 20, she is showing no sign of ever wanting to move out. Why would she? Her clothes get washed, her food gets cooked, the house gets cleaned around her detritus. And when she runs out of money the week before payday, she has the good old reliable Bank Of Mum to bail her out. All for a puny, almost laughable amount of digs money (she’s the one who’s laughing).
Whenever I mention something along the lines of: “You know, when you’re living in a flat with friends, this will all be so different; people won’t put up with your mess and your hair clogging up the plughole and the trail of empty Diet Coke bottles; and don’t get me started on those moods!” she looks at me with a blank expression, as if to say: “I hear the words you’re saying, and I know what they mean individually, but put together in that order they make absolutely no sense. Sorry.”
I adore the bones of the girl, really I do. She’s so much fun to have around the place. She’s never been any trouble – no impromptu house parties or brushes with the law or anything like that. So I’m not in any immediate hurry to get rid. It’s just that look. The Kathy Bates look. “I want to stay with you FOR EVER.”
I think it might be time to put up the rent.