This week Liz Dawes reflects on the ease with which our families can say the most inappropriate things….
A girlfriend recently wrote a Facebook post that made me chuckle. After a few late nights and early mornings, she complained to her mother that she was looking old, to which her mother replied: “No you’re not. Well…only your skin!” Funny for the rest of us, of course, but a bit rich coming from one’s mother!
You’ll be familiar with my daughter. She has an unerring knack of publicly proclaiming things that, whilst possibly true, might best be left unsaid. She means them as no more than factual commentary, but I suspect I’m going to have to teach her to use her inside voice soon, after she referred to me (loudly and to one of her teachers) as having a “nose the size of Norway and a bottom the size of Brazil”. My inner author was delighted with her use of alliteration; not so my self-esteem.
Other friends have suffered equally violent assaults to their sensibilities, albeit less verbal. One pal was opening her Christmas stocking one year, to discover that “Santa” has given her a pair of control pants. The beatific smile from her mother did not excuse her cruel hints, especially on a day that was basically going to involve some considerable overindulgence. Contrast this with another friend who, having been single for a few months, received on her birthday from her mother a three pack of very skimpy lace G-Strings. Wrong, on oh-so-many levels...
Accepted wisdom on this topic is that comments such as these are an odd sort of compliment. The logic is that only those closest to us, who know that our love and friendship cannot be dented by such words, are able to tell us the God’s honest truth. I, however, cock my (apparently rather enormous) nose at such logic. If I’ve gained a few pounds, or am looking a little weary, surely it is the job of our nearest and dearest to remind us that these superficial things are not important, and that we are valued and loved for who we are and not what we look like? I suspect it’s precisely because they are our nearest and dearest that they know they can say what the hell they like, safe in the knowledge that we can’t escape them; meantime they can have a good laugh at our expense.
I leave you with one final gem. A very close friend has a nice, but smug-married, sister, who, upon learning of my friend’s fledgling relationship with a new man (following a rather unexpected ditching a little while earlier) asked ‘what does he do for a living?’ Upon being told, she said “well, I think I’ll just refer to him as that – it’s so much easier than trying to remember yet another name for a few months”.
Well, thanks for the vote of confidence, love. Don’t start thinking about a new hat. You won’t be needing it!