NZ Woman's Weekly

Colin Hogg’s age-old story

I have just learned that my teenage daughter enjoys housework. “I love tidying up,” she happily warbled at me. I let my eyes drift around her bedroom, wondering what she meant. She saw what I was seeing – the chaos, the horror – and added, “Not at home so much. I like tidying up at other people’s places.”

She’d been over at a friend’s place, helping out with a spot of tidying up, apparently. Her mate’s mother told her she was marvellous. There’s comfort in knowing your kids do all the good things at strangers’ places that they’d never think of doing at home – helping with the dishes, for instance.

An extraordinary amount of energy is generated between parents and kids over tidiness and helping at home. Small towns could be powered on it. This youngest kid of mine is the untidiest by a reasonable lead ahead of her five elders.

Even now, when the 14-year-old’s big sisters come for dinner, they team up, just like the old days when they were little, to do the dishes. There’s no stopping them. And they keep tidy homes, from what I’ve seen. Even the only boy in the bunch seems to like things to be where they belong. Though his plans to belong in New York have recently been delayed, which I’m not too broken-hearted about.

It’s interesting enough that he’s living in Melbourne, but disappearing to the far side of the US seems an awfully long way away. The move is now likely later in the year, so I’ve got a little longer to get used to the idea of having such a faraway boy.

On the subject of faraway family, I recently set a new personal record for the length of a phone conversation with my mother, who lives down in Christchurch, where she laments the weather. But that’s okay.

At her age, you’re allowed quite a lot of lamenting, even if there are lots of things left to celebrate. In her mid-eighties, she’s fit enough to regularly play golf and sharp enough for a son not to argue with her too much.

Anyway, we spent nearly two hours on the phone and covered many subjects and family members, near and very far – some of them deceased. There was a lengthy segment devoted to the health woes of several people Mum knows who I don’t. Some of this was more detailed than I really wanted to hear. Mum knows I’m sensitive about talk of medical matters, but she doesn’t like to let that stop her.

She also got onto the issue of why there’s nothing on TV for people of her age and I’m sure she’s right and I’ll see what I can do about it.

Then she woke Dad up from his nap so we could boast to each other about our vegetable gardens, although his beats mine hands down – especially in the root-vegetable department.

My carrots are pathetic and I’ve never summoned the nerve to even try growing potatoes. Dad’s turning 90 this year and his fingers remain a deep shade of green. And, needless to say, he keeps a very tidy garden too.

Issue 1541

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Simon Barnett’s 7 magic rules

In this week's issue of New Zealand Woman's Weekly magazine: Simon Barnett reveals his seven magic rules for raising girls.

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