50 ways to please your mother
(with apologies to Paul Simon; A, D & N)
1. When you slip out the back, take the rubbish with you.
2. Learn how to do your own laundry (see 3-11).
3. Bring the dirty clothes to the washing machine. Put them in it.
4. Put the powder in and start the machine (40º works for everything.)
5. Come back later. Take the wet clothes out.
6. Hang them out on the line to dry.
7. Take them in from the line.
8. Iron them or fold them.
9. Put them away in your wardrobe.
10. If it starts to rain during stage 6 move to stage 7. When it has stopped raining repeat from stage 6.
11. Wash your bed sheets. Hint: they are dirty when you can see the dirt.
12. If you are four years old go to bed when she asks you to.
13. If you are four years old and you are reading this, ask her to sign you up for a gifted children programme.
14. If she asks for “three wedgies” in a loud voice in McDonalds explain to her what a wedgie means - and that it is not the same thing as the potato wedges on offer.
15. Let her know her when words like hop, disco and dance are no longer in fashion.
16. Teach her the difference between the album name and the group name of the latest bands.
17. Make a new plan when you leave school/college/job/girl/boy/home.
18. Try gardening - with or without her.
19. Learn what a waste paper bin is for.
20. Use the wastepaper bin(s).
21. Don’t eat too much.
22. Don’t eat too little.
23. Don’t sleep too much.
24. Don’t sleep too little.
25. Don’t shower too much (it costs too much).
26. Don’t shower too little (particularly if you are a teenage male).
27. Avoid unwashed long hair/dreadlocks. She won’t cope well.
28. Don't cut your hair too short.
29. You don’t need to be coy - offer her feedback as a parent. She gives you feedback all the time, whether you want it or not.
30. Find a job you love and set yourself free.
31. Find a job you love and put a bridge over her troubled waters.
32. If you and Julio were in trouble down at the school-yard tell her the truth before the principal does.
33. If you are thirteen or older stop telling her everything.
34. Let her know how twitter works (see 35).
35. Be very concerned when she tells you that she once asked in a coffee shop if a small picture of a bird alongside @kaphsc.ie meant that their email address was firstname.lastname@example.org.
36. Make her a meal. She’ll almost die of gratitude.
37. Ditto if you voluntarily vacuum/sweep/clean the toilet/shop/tidy/empty the dishwasher.
38. Unplug your chargers.
39. Turn off the lights.
40. Admit it if you scratched the car.
41. Don't go faster than 25kmph if she’s teaching you to drive. She’s terrified. See 42.
42. When she gasps and flinches (on the passenger side) - it’s not about you. Just you as a baby driver.
43. Bear in mind she changed your nappy for years. You may have to change hers sometime.
44. If you are over 30 and still living at home, leave home. ASAP.
45. Help preserve her dignity when she stops making sense. This is her world now.
46. Understand that at a certain age every caring bone is leaving her body: she may no longer care about whether your stomach is full or not.
47. Indulge her fondness for her first album - even if it is Cat Steven’s Tea for the Tillerman.
48. If it is Wednesday morning at 3am, don’t call home.
49. If you are a student who has just moved out think carefully before sending her the text: “Hi Mum, just wondering how to make a French dressing. We have olive oil, balsamic vinegar, French mustard and honey. Can anything be done with these?” She may reconsider your allowance and you will have to move back home. You may also receive shouty texts from her with a lot of capital letters about her NOT KNOWING what balsamic vinegar was when SHE was a POOR student.
50. Even if you’re not called Betty, she won’t mind it if you call her Al.
© Alison Hackett posted 22 March 2020. This blog was first posted in 2015 and can be viewed on the archive blog
Alison Hackett — Director and founder of 21st Century Renaissance; author of The Visual Time Traveller 500 Years of History, Art and Science in 100 Unique Designs