Five childhood traumas your parents still refer to as 'character building'

THEY f**k you up, your mum and dad. Philip Larkin said they don’t mean to, but you’ve got your doubts. Here are five traumas they inflicted which they still classify as ‘character building’.

Forgetting to pick you up from school

This only happened once, decades ago. However it was during a horrendous thunderstorm and you nearly caught pneumonia as you struggled to make your way home. In your parents’ eyes this is a hilarious anecdote which put much-needed hairs on your chest. To you it’s the origin story of why you haven’t had grandchildren.

Taking you on an awful holiday

Normal families go on holiday to the Lake District or Portugal. Not yours, though. Instead, your parents would take you camping in the remotest, most godforsaken backwaters. Cue walks where you’d get lost for nine hours, food poisoning from ‘cooking’ sausages on the feeble camping stove, and seriously worrying you might be found dead in an isolated ravine by mountain rescue. ‘Still, it beats Center Parcs!’ your dad would beam.

Being too strict

Being a parent is a difficult balancing act. If they’re too lenient, their kids will take advantage of this softness and walk all over them. If they’re too strict, their children will develop anxiety and harbour deep-seated resentment for the rest of their lives. Shame you fall into the second camp, the first one sounds way more fun.

Not remembering your birthday

Your parents are amazed you can still remember this. So what if they forgot the most important day in every child’s calendar? In their opinion it taught you a valuable lesson about not prioritising material goods like presents. You might want to check their will just to make sure you’re not left out of that, too.

Getting divorced/staying together

Whichever one your parents did will have messed you up, or in their eyes, toughened you up. If they got divorced it taught you that love can be fleeting and complicated. And if they stayed together you learned that it’s normal for marriages to dissolve into sexless slogs. You’d have been better off being raised in a laboratory by a team of distant scientists.

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The version of your home life you present to guests versus the reality

DO you pretend to have a different home life when people visit? Here are five things that are at odds with the squalid truth.

You clean

Judging by the gleaming surfaces in all your rooms, your guests will assume that you hoover and dust on a weekly basis. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact you had to book the last fortnight off work just to get your home into a presentable condition. And the second they leave it will revert to its natural state as a shit tip.

You tidy

Everything in your home appears to have a place. The glasses sit in the cabinet, the books stand proudly on the shelf, and the mountain of dirty laundry you couldn’t be bothered to sort has been crammed into your wardrobe. So long as your guests don’t look in there they will never know that you are in fact a slovenly goblin person.

Your kitchen isn’t bare

Offering your guests a drink and a snack is a great way to cover your tracks. They’ll never suspect that your cupboards are usually only filled with stale breakfast cereal, mouldy bread, and a clove of garlic you picked up in the first lockdown. Who needs ingredients though when you live off takeaways every night? That would be wasteful.

All the rooms are equally clean and tidy

This is a gamble, but it can pay off. If you only clean the rooms your guests will visit, then they should assume that everywhere else is equally immaculate. Unless you’re giving them a tour, they will have no reason to visit the fetid den you call your bedroom, meaning you don’t need to sort the assorted junk which has built up in it ever since you moved in.

You’re winning at life

By presenting a deceptively positive version of your abode, your guests may actually be envious of you. They’ll suspect something is off because they know what a shambles of a person you really are, but they won’t be able to prove it. Just pray they don’t decide to knock on the door in a couple of weeks when everything has promptly fallen apart again.