Fighting the patriarchy

Daughter one has a newly decorated bedroom. She is now on a “loft bed” with her desk underneath which gives her a bit more space. Before this you almost had to climb over stuff to get into her room. Her door also became unhinged due to various attempts by daughter two to break into the room so she now has a bead curtain. It looks very Zen. She wants to hang sheets from the ceiling in the manner of a Bedouin tent. I am not sure of the health and safety implications and also I think we only have about one spare sheet due to only son’s bedwetting tendencies. It might not be quite the same atmosphere if the Bedouin tent has a waft of wee every time a breeze sweeps in.

In any event, daughter one is very happy and has been rearranging her bookshelf which was overflowing with my old books and a couple of my partner’s dusty teach yourself Dutch books [he went through a phase of considering himself half Dutch]. She has been going through these and selecting the “best” for herself. She intends to read them all over the summer months. These include books of news reportage, human rights, feminism, censorship and stuff I have long forgotten I knew. I fear she is going to swallow up everything I have ever read and use it to win every argument going. She went on a very long rant the other night after picking up the Malcolm X biography and reading about the latest developments in the US. It encompassed the entire civil rights movement, feminism and GCSEs [naturally]. My partner often asks me why bedtime takes so long – his approach is to tell everyone to go to bed and then feel like the job is done [ha!]. It is because I am having a very wide-ranging discussion about world politics with daughter one, cuddling up only son, talking daughter three out of booking a hotel in Brighton for her birthday [she has researched them all and appears to be deaf to the fact that we can’t afford them] and speaking my one line of German to daughter two who has had tests in German all week [“I don’t know why I am so sad”. A highly useful phrase and one which brought an invitation to a disco in Austria back in the day].

Daughter one has been watching the Extreme Russia series with Reggie Yates and this week was models. Daughter one thinks modelling could finance her round the world rock tour and a lifetime as a philosopher. She was a bit irked that you have to be virtually six foot to be a catwalk model and resorted to Youtube to see if there was a tutorial on how to make yourself taller. There was. The bad news is you need tall parents and to eat well. Apparently her parents are not tall enough, plus, she has been trying to wangle her way out of breakfast because she says she doesn’t feel hungry first thing [mainly because she would rather sleep till noon]. She has accused me of “force feeding” her, casting herself as a suffragette and me as The Patriarchy. It’s not working. I mentioned that being a model could be very exploitative. “Are you telling me I’m fat?” she asked. Uh? I have begun a pro-breakfast campaign, aided and abetted by daughter two who whizzes up some amazing smoothies at the crack of dawn. Daughter one has, of course, accused me of favouring daughter two, who is slightly paler than her. “It’s blatant racism,” she says. You can’t win.

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