Thursday, 17 June 2021

Embarrassing to look at but not invisible... yet

KIDS can be so cruel. And not just to each other, either.
Take my two.

My daughter, the 10-year-old teenager, usually never even notices I’m there, let alone cares enough to pass rough judgement on my appearance.

And my sunshiney seven-year-old son rarely acknowledges my presence — especially if he’s ensconced in his Imaginext Batcave and Gotham City is under attack from Mr Freeze.

So imagine my surprise when, brushing our teeth together the other night, he beams at me and proudly states that I have teeth just like Tow Mater in the Disney Pixar animated film Cars.

For those of you who don’t know, Tow Mater is a rusty old hillbilly tow truck, who has two enormous, wonky front teeth with a gap between them so big, you could park a motorbike in it.

I laughed it off, spraying toothpaste everywhere (through my gappy front teeth), making my son hysterical in the process.

But even though he was unaware of the harshness of his comment, it cut me to the quick.

So much so, the very next day, I called the dentist to enquire about braces and whitening.

A few days later, I crept up behind him in the school playground, placing my hands over his eyes and making my voice as deep as possible:

“Guess who?” I rumbled in my best giant voice, familiar to my son thanks to reading Jack and the Beanstalk to him well over a gazillion times.

His little hands felt my face, his fingertips lingering on my chin and upper lip.

“Daddy!” He squealed in delight. “I can feel your beard!”

“Come on, let’s go home,” I suddenly soured, running through my mental Filofax for a good local hair removal salon.

Speaking of hair, just when I’m patting myself on the back for almost accepting — if not exactly wholeheartedly embracing — my chaotic curly hair, my daughter, the TYOT, casually remarks that I’m bearing more than just a passing resemblance to Professor Sprout in Harry Potter these days.

Which is fine — we all love the brilliant Miriam Margolyes in our house, after all — it’s just that in my mind’s eye, I could’ve sworn I looked more Fifties bombshell Marilyn than in-her-Seventies Miriam.

My new, industrial-strength hair straighteners arrived two days later.

I don’t know whether it’s hormones (both theirs and mine), the change of season or simply my out-of-control menopausal hypersensitivity, but lately the barbs seem to be coming thick and fast.

Just yesterday, the TYOT and I went to Clarks for new school shoes. She tried on a lovely pair of loafers that were too small.

“Ooh, let me try them on,” I lunged for said loafers and tried to squeeze my feet into them.

“It’s like you’re one of the Ugly Sisters from Cinderella,” she giggled, glancing around to make sure she didn’t know anyone in there.

“Thanks,” I shot her a hurt look.

“No, not because you’re ugly — because you’re trying to stuff your waaaaaay too fat feet into those teeny tiny shoes!”

Needless to say, I ended up buying her a sensible, plain black pair of standard Mary Janes. And joining Slimming World.

As we sauntered past shop windows, she dispensed more unsolicited fashion advice. Turns out “curve-hugging” jeans, over which my muffin top apparently hangs in a most unseemly manner, “snug” tops revealing a podgy tum and too much bra-strap fat — wearing anything close-fitting is, for me, verboten.

In fact, according to the TYOT, the only tight thing I should ever wear is a balaclava.

“And ear plugs,” I sighed to myself, wondering whether this torrent of abuse would ever stop.

Because sometimes it’s tough being an older mother, looking like someone’s daggy granny at the school gates: one minute you’re an unsightly embarrassment to your kids and the next you’re completely and utterly invisible. To everyone.

But that’s another story…

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