I previously wrote about “inheritance impatience” which in effect was about inheritance expectations. It led me, however, to think about other expectations that our children have of us, in respect of our behaviour, appearance and social interactions – just to mention a few.
Some years ago, I commented to my 30 something year old son that I thought I might “go grey”. I was amazed at his response, which verged on horror. I thought it was because I would look different. But then I thought about it more carefully, if I was grey, then he had what he would perceive as an older mother, and if his mother was older then perhaps he himself was older than his perception of himself!
I was reminded of this last year when he and I were conversing about nothing in particular, when out of the blue he asked “Mum, how is it that you have a friend with an Audi R8, and other friends with a castle in Poland?” My response to the first part of the question was “Well, he’s my rowing partner” and my response to the second part of the question was “Well one of them used to be my rowing partner”. Neither response actually answered the question, but it managed to conclude the conversation and left me thinking again about how our children perceive us.
However, it is the latter friends – the ones with the castle in Poland – that I want to talk about. I decided to take my grand-daughter to Poland last December to experience a White Christmas and in a castle. After all, those Polish sisters, I wrote about last week, told us in primary school about snow at Christmas, and we didn’t believe them and here we were going to experience it ourselves.
On the drive from Prague to the castle one of my friends told us about their new dog – a hybrid. He did warn me not to pat the dog when we arrived, but to wait until we were inside the castle, where the dog would be given a treat and would know that I was a friend. On arrival I forgot the advice and held out the back of my hand for the dog to sniff. Not so. He went for me, fangs bared. At the same time my other friend pulled on the chain I leapt back with an alacrity I didn’t know I possessed.
That was Christmas Eve. The castle is straight out of a fairy story and was built “long long ago”. Whilst it is no longer the five floors of “reno’s delight” that it was two years earlier when I visited (and was accommodated in a neighbour’s castle) it is still not fully restored, though the vision is more apparent. I was given a magnificent corner suite with furnishings befitting such a grand abode and a view that wouldn’t have changed over the centuries. My grand-daughter was in our friend’s apartment on the other side of the castle.
Not knowing what gifts to put under the tree, after all what do you give friends who live in a castle, I had decided on hand-knitted bed socks, knitted by me. Unfortunately I hadn’t finished them by the time we arrived. So Christmas morning, I set the alarm for 5am and sat up in my 17th century bed knitting furiously. Then I started to laugh. Wasn’t I just like the princess who had to make the jumpers out of nettles and before dawn thrown them over her brothers to reverse the curse which had turned them into swans. At least I thought I was knitting in the comfort of “my” castle and confident that neither of my friends would spend the rest of their lives with one wing flapping.
I completed the gifts with time to spare, readied myself in the modern bathroom, complete with heated floor and went to join the morning’s festivities. The problem was between my suite and the living quarters there was an unrestored no-man’s land about the size of a tennis court and within that space was the equally unrestored spiral staircase, leading down a few floors to the original dungeon. There was a further problem – Barrie the hybrid. What if he was roaming around the castle and during the night had forgotten that we were now friends. Then the full realisation of my situation hit home – Barrie was a wolf and I was a grandmother and I was living in the land of fairy tales. I was no longer the princess working with nettles but the grandmother about to be devoured. Hybrid or no hybrid I thought put a bonnet on his head, a shawl around his shoulders and let him sit up in my bed and he would look exactly like the pictures in the story books of my childhood. And, what’s more, it would be my grand-daughter who would find me or rather the wolf.
Once again with the greatest of speed I moved back into my suite, thinking it’s Christmas morning they will come looking for me to join in the festivities. Not exactly, it took them about three hours to realise I wasn’t enjoying Christmas morning in the castle, but rather hidden in my suite reliving the fairy stories of my child-hood.
It was though a fabulous Christmas, but I’m still not so sure about those Polish sisters after all it was Christmas and it didn’t snow, so . . . However, I think I “won” because I don’t think those Polish sisters would ever have spent Christmas in a castle with its own wolf. And it just goes to show, some parents are never going to be quite what their children expect.