Why is it whenever I visit my mum and dad I come back with more stuff than I took? Last trip I acquired a lovely fleece, the time before that a couple of sun hats and some children’s books.
I’m not actually stuffing these things in my bag unnoticed. Whenever I borrow stuff, or show a liking for something at mum’s house, I know there is an outside chance she’ll glance over and, if it’s not a much loved item, she’ll say, “You can keep it if you like.” This is her being lovely and generous, but does it encourage me not to worry too much about returning borrowed items? Or make me less likely to ask permission before I help myself to her shampoo rather than bothering to get my own out of my bag.
I’m pretty sure all kids are like this, even when we’re not really kids anymore. I know when I lived with them I used to help myself to pretty much anything in the house which wasn’t locked up. Dad’s shirts and Mum’s shoes would become incorporated into my wardrobe. I’d not think twice about opening a bottle of their wine. Food, obviously, was fair game and I loved going through the home office for stationary I couldn’t afford to buy for myself. (I suppose I could have bought fewer fags, but hey, I need stationary for my studies, that should come out of my parent’s budget. In fact maybe that’s why I did so poorly in my A Levels- not enough neon post-it notes. Larkin was right. Neglectful bastards.)
When you move out of your parental home and set out on your own, whenever you visit them you are reminded how much better their stuff is than yours (especially now they don’t live with a kleptomaniac teenager), and it still feels perfectly natural to take a towel or two home with you in the rucksack they’ll not use much but is perfect for you.
However a few years down the road, you have your own family and your mum and dad no longer live in the house you grew up in, and suddenly “sharing” your parents belongings is not normal, or sweet or bloomin’ kids. eh! It’s theft. There is a chance it won’t lead to prosecution, but still.
It’s pretty shameful that although we can afford to get our own, we still have at least three of my father-in-law’s tools in our shed. I should definitely return them….probably not gonna though.
Because the cold hard truth is kids are horrendous, and as a parent, I’m going to make sure I get a very sturdy, lockable cupboard. As a daughter, I’ve just noticed my parents have a sturdy, lockable cupboard they don’t seem to be using very much.