It’s not all about you and other rules

Recently, my little sister was telling me a story. It was a moderately interesting tale of a tropical disease she seems to have picked up (most of my interest in the story stemmed from the opportunity to say, “qui custodiet ipsos custodes?” and “physician, heal thyself”, which happens less in everyday life than one might expect) and it reminded me that I had pulled my hamstring. I interrupted her to tell her this interesting fact.

“It’s not all about you,” my little sister complained. “And you know you’re not meant to interrupt.”

I do know that I’m not meant to interrupt. I also know that I’m meant to ask people how their day was, even if I don’t care in the slightest, and say thank you for gifts I didn’t ask for and don’t want. We had a lot of rules growing up. In many ways it was similar to being raised in the movie Annie, what with all the extra children (my siblings had a seemingly inexhaustible number of friends, who were constantly ‘sleeping over’ and making a ruckus whilst I was trying to read my book) and the ‘cleaning up after yourself’ and the daytime drinking of our caregivers, although I’m still waiting optimistically for Daddy Warbucks.

We were not allowed to watch TV, which has had the fabulous effect of making it impossible for any member of my family to sit in a bar or restaurant containing a TV and not give it our full attention. (It really matters not at all what the TV is showing. My Mother once missed me telling her I had been accepted into university because she was distracted by an advert for patio cleaner. In her defence, she does like things to be kept clean).

Our pocket money was dependent on good behaviour at Mass –  an endless forced, squirming seated silence which was only relieved by pinching our little brother until he cried so bitterly that we were allowed to take him out to “settle him”.* And said pocket money (which, I would hasten to add, was kept well below classmate-influenced inflation) was spent in the corner shop, on the only sweets we were allowed all week. (It was not until I was regularly invited to other people’s houses that I realised ‘pudding’ could denote something other than a piece of fruit).

I have almost forgotten to mention one of the most strictly-enforced rules: No talking about my birthday til my little sister’s birthday is passed. Which makes today, June 17th, the last day before we can talk about my birthday. Also, in unrelated news, here is a photo of a birthday cake.

*Tips for keeping an under-5 hyped up in order to prolong delicious freedom outside of Mass include endless rounds of dizzy dinosaurs (spinning around until you fall over), it, stuck-in-the-mud and hide-and-seek in and amongst the parked cars of the more virtuous.

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