Wait till your mother gets home

The Guardian (London) – Final Edition
July 31, 2004

Weekend: Relationship Spirit: WAIT TILL YOUR MOTHER GETS HOME


Ten-year-old First Born has a school project to do. He’s been doing
it for about three weeks. Well, when I say he’s been doing it for
three weeks, that’s overstating the tenacity of his application a
tickle. The other day I called home from something that had taken me
away, to see how everyone was courageously struggling on in my
absence. FB answered the phone.

Me: “Have you done some more of your project?”

FB: “Yes.”

Me: “Have you really? Or is that an outrageous lie?”

FB: “It’s an outrageous lie.” (He pronounces “outrageous” as though
there’s a diaeresis over the “e”: I imagine him saying it, then
taking a puff on a cigarette that’s smouldering in a long black
holder, like Noel Coward.)

Me: “I see.”

FB: “Yeah . . . So, do you want to speak to Mama, or what?”

Anyway, today I forced him to do some more work, and he again wailed
about the shocking cruelty of it all: how it was brutal, and brimming
with wrong, and – to be blunt – couldn’t help but call to mind the
massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915. In response, I
told him to do a word count. He did.

“Pft,” I commented. “I have to do twice that number of words every

He gave me a contemptuous look. “But you chose to do your stupid

First Born has never forgiven me for becoming a writer. When I was an
IT manager, his child-eyes looked up at me and gleamed with pride. I,
in his words, “played on computers all day”. I was like a cross
between Nelson Mandela and Batman. When I switched to writing novels
for a living, it went beyond disappointment for him, and into
betrayal. Even this very column is 306 daggers in his heart.

The guilt tortures me.
From: Baghdasarian