Tuesday, 6 March 2012

How to Be a Supermum

The 9-year-old has presented the 7-year-old with a 5-step guide to Becoming a Better Brother:

 1) Start wearing Hugo Boss
 2) Start wearing hair oil
 3) Substitute trainers for regulation school shoes
 4) Be seen talking to the 'in crowd' in the school playground
 5) Become a Chelsea supporter

If he adopts all five she will forgive him for not being a twin sister on whose hair she might practise French plaits.

The Vicar, evidently, is a lost cause, for he is merely required to adopt Adidas footwear and to sing hymns less loudly at school assemblies.

Then she borrows a biro and sketches a picture of her ideal mother and she labels it, optimistically: 'My Mum'.

Her ideal mother looks like this:



Her real mother looks like this:



She mistakes my horror for grief over my own failings, and she tells me that she will let me off the designer hair, the painted nail extensions and the tunic top blaring 'Love' if I will consent to buy real Uggs and a silver people carrier. 'I'm doing this for you,' she says patiently. 'So you can be a supermum.'

My amusement is matched by forboding. Designer clothes and designer gadgetry are the social currency in our school playground. Self-worth is measured in terms of Ralph Lauren and ipads. My daughter has just sacrificed twelve weeks of pocket money on a Ralph Lauren T-shirt from eBay. 'So that I can talk about it,' she says, 'like the others do at lunch times.' A classmate's struggling single mother has bought her 8-year-old an ipad because she'd found that half the form claimed to own one and she feared that she had failed her daughter.

I am hardened against most overtures. I insist on T-shirts from H&M and an ipad fashioned from a Rice Krispies box. A minuscule man on a polo horse cannot move me and I have invigorating prejudices against Uggs.

But I can see that behind the superficial yearnings are issues of id and ego, and I know that evolving identities must be humoured. And so I exchange my birthday bobble-knit for skinny jeans and I scrape the manure scabs off my Barbour jacket for Barbours, The Telegraph tells me, have unexpectedly gained street cred.

I have not, however, reckoned on biology. Ipads are old hat this week. Even Ralph Lauren lurks knotted in a drawer. One of the mothers is expecting. Now babies are the must-have accessories at the school gate. My daughter lurches out of class agog. Her eyes slide unseeing over my revamped winterwear and she forgets to draw my attention to the Puma tracksuit sashaying by.

'What I really want,' she says, 'is for you to have a baby.'
She's braced for my reaction. She has already devised the clincher.
'If you have a baby in your arms, ' she concludes cunningly, 'I'll think you're a supercool Mum and everyone else will think you must be young!'

19 comments:

  1. No mention of dogs in the above, also a hip accessory with playground cred.

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  2. I think you need to call her bluff - get yourself spray-tanned and get some false nails on. Mini-skirt, heels and red lippy. Arrive at the school gates & run (or attempt to) throw your arms round her and tell her how much you missed your little princess....
    She will have your thermals and wellies out quick as a flash!!

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    Replies
    1. This is a tempting idea. I wondered if I could so something with leopard print. The danger is that she will be thrilled with my new look, but I'll frighten off the Vicar!

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  3. I agree with mother on the edge, you need to call your daughters bluff!

    It is sad though, peer pressure at such a young age. I do hope that you stick to your guns and remain the same. When she is older she will see you in a different light and realize that uggs to not make you a supermom, but the amount of love you give her.

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    Replies
    1. The problem is she's been through three schools in very different areas and had to find her feet at each one amongst kids who've known each other years. Right now those feet need to be shod in Uggs to count, but I shall not give in, nor does she expect it. She only nags me to buy these things for myself, not for her.

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  4. That's so funny. Its must be so hard for girls to conform to pressure but I thought it was more hollister than Ralph Lauren!!! My sons school doesn't have a uniform and I really feel for the year 5 and 6 girls who seem to have so much pressure to look good.

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    Replies
    1. Hollister hasn't been much mentioned. Perhaps that starts at secondary school.

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  5. I'm a child of the 70's and I don't rememeber all this talk of designer wear at school aged 9. How times have changed, and how horrible for kids that their self worth and sense of identity is based upon a designer label. Stick to your guns, which it sounds like you are admirably doing, and she will thoroughly thank you for it one day .... in the future.

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  6. ps that's a great photo of an axe wielding vicars wife!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I suspect that you don't want to mess with her.

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  7. So will you have another baby for her? Or you could buy her a pair of Uggs. Baby or Uggs? Uggs or Baby? It's a hard choice.

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    1. Uggs, I think. But I hate 'em. No, baby. Oh, but the nappies...! Think I'll stick to the wellies but go Hunters so she can boast about the label!

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  8. I love that photo of you.

    Sadly, I can remember being hideously embarrassed by my own mother at that age, but it was a money thing. I went to a posh school on an assisted place, all my class mates had ponies and never-ending pocket money, I had holes in my tights and a fear of inviting them round to my house. Worse still was the fact that my mum wore clothes from charity shops and cut her hair herself. I mean, the very idea!

    Of course, I now think my mum is totes amazeballs and am aghast that I would have ever thought that low of her. It happens to us all, I guess. Part of growing up? You're all right. Just guide her through the pitfalls of being human and she'll be fine.

    I got to get me a Rice Krispie ipad, though. They sound AWESOME.

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    Replies
    1. I embarrassed her again today by sending a sick note to school that was a) handwritten and b) handwritten with a Parker fountain pen. 'ALL the other mums print theirs,' she wailed. 'You're SO uncool!'

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  9. A few years ago when my daughter was 11 we both drew pictures of our perfect mum/daughter. I, of course, drew my daughter in great detail. My daughter drew a tattoo covered Goth mum with several facial piercings (the complete opposite of me). Her response was 'oh, was I meant to draw you?', my attempt at boosting her confidence by telling her she was perfect to me unwittingly made her feel guilty that she didn't think I was perfect. We haven't repeated the exercise! ;)

    I don't think parents of girls aged 9-16 can ever be cool in their daughter's eyes ;)

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  10. I reckon that she would hate it if you 'conformed' to this dubious ideal. You are her Mum and her rock and, no matter what she says, she'd be all lost at sea if you caved on such things as nail extensions.

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    Replies
    1. Not that I have the slightest intention of giving way, but I'll have to sit out a few more years of recrimination until she sees things as lucidly as you do!

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