11 May 2018
Is the whole purpose of parenting to pass on a memorable set of commandments for life? A way of life perhaps or a rough guide?
A parent cannot help passing on some of his/her own mores and habits. Teachers do the same. On purpose or accidentally almost unthinkingly. When Miss Lydall said:
“It’s no good asking Marigold, she can’t draw for toffee.”
It froze Marigold’s pencil and paintbrush for evermore.
Or when the nine year-old presented Mr Furridge, the Art Master, with what he thought a rather decent piece of work but modestly decried it as “rubbishy”, and Mr Furridge responded in a loud voice in front of the whole class:
“Don’t disparage your work, boy, in order to gain praise.”
You don’t forget these things. You can laugh it off if you’re 17 perhaps, not if you are between the ages of 7 and 17.
Classic put-downs are supposedly character-building. I’m sure I’ve put them down myself, probably when making a witticism at someone else’s expense. It takes a toughie to rise above such things, an amnesiac to forget them.
Fortunately for me my mother’s “Sex is grossly over-rated” fell from her lips too late to ruin my marriage; but it’s a casual remark I’ve never forgotten and makes me realise how a simple sentence can lodge in your head.
Was it because she said it? My mother whom I respected and believed?
Had Miss Lydall made the same remark the reaction would have been very different: ribald and smothered laughter.
Mr Furridge, I rather hope, would have been greeted with diverse and inventive rude gestures.
I would dearly like to know if any of you are similarly burdened with unlikely odd or hurtful mems.