The Mother of Architecture


The first time it happened was in French class. I got my pronunciation all wrong with the word Architect and somehow ended up calling my teacher a shithead.

Arsheethead I said slowly while looking her in the eye with tremendous concentration.

From that moment my vocabulary was changed forever. The giggles and the inside joke between fellow French students had us talking about Arsheetheads in our lives. The guy who cut you off in the traffic was arsheethead, the woman who stole your parking space was arsheethead, and our children when they were bad or naughty – they were being real little arsheetheads.

There was something quite therapeutic about the word. I mean we weren’t really saying our children were shitheads, we were just joking, using the word for a little comic relief.

Each parent has their own rules on how far they’ll go, or perhaps how honest they’re prepared to be with themselves. As parents we skirt around the honesty of the situation combined with the raw love and blinkered perspective of our own flesh and blood. It would be a lie not to acknowledge the reality. Not my child, my child wouldn’t do that.

Sometimes my children are professional arsheetheads. Like most children they bicker and niggle. They are often, like many children of their generation, overindulged and spoilt. And like most children they sometimes need to be told more than once to do a chore. I am far from the perfect mother and they are far from the perfect children. I am under no illusion that it will be any different, this is reality. While I try my best to be a good mother I also want to keep studying, get fit, have a successful business, and more importantly have the energy to bonk my husband a few times a week.

For the majority of the time, particularly when I’m keeping my head in the sand, I feel like we’re all doing okay. Although every now and then I am blasted with the cold winds of reality and reminded that we are not perfect.

Last year one of my little travellers was so vile, so rude and so out of line with a girl in his class that I felt I had failed him. G and I sat together wondering where we’d gone wrong, how was it that he could have been so cruel? And the worst bit, it was a friend’s child that he’d hurt – not physically, it was all verbal, and it was ugly.

A letter was written, an apology made, and over time the wound has healed but I can’t imagine it will ever fade for our friends. I know I would find it hard, all objectivity is lost when it comes to my children. A year down the track and the story is a little clearer for me. Our traveller in question has explained what led him to where he landed, there’s no excuse, but there’s a little more understanding. In hindsight, the story is a little more balanced.

That’s the thing with children, they’re like adults without filters or training. The language is new and brutal, they’re still learning how to add conjunctions. How to soften the blows with a passive voice. Unfortunately they often get it wrong by saying or doing things that hurt and sting. They don’t really know how to politely look someone in the eye and say with great concentration, you’re being arsheethead. They are not perfect and there’s no point pretending that they are.


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