Monday, 10 March 2008

The Enchanted Castle

Once upon a time, when my sons were very young, they believed that we lived in an enchanted castle, inhabited by beautiful young fairies, who performed the daily tasks necessary in order to keep everyone well-fed and comfortable, for no financial reward. They were under the impression that we had one fairy to keep the castle spic and span, several to tend the castle grounds, another to cook, another to wash and iron, another to shop and several more to keep the castle in reasonable decorative order. One day, I explained that, in fact, there was only one rather bitter, ugly, not-so-young fairy who multi-tasked and, as they grew older, they slowly began to understand that the bitter, ugly, not-so-young fairy and I were one and the same person.

To some extent, even though my sons are now grown-up, their beliefs persist that they live in an enchanted castle and that I, as a middle-aged, menopausal fairy, still possess some magic powers.

For instance, according to them, the swing bin in the enchanted kitchen disappears when it is overflowing. I am very fortunate, in that my magic powers enable me to see everything, at all times. Only I can empty the bin, if only I can see it, naturally.

Fresh milk disappears as soon as the milkman puts it down on our enchanted doorstep. One bottle of semi-skimmed will materialise as soon as one son runs out of milk for his breakfast cereal. Unfortunately, as soon as said son has poured out sufficient milk for his needs, the 'fridge disappears and he is unable to put the remains of the bottle inside.

Apparently, as soon as anyone picks up the new toilet roll in the bathroom, the empty toilet roll holder disappears, so the new toilet roll has to sit on the window sill, until the bitter, ugly, old fairy goes in.

Cat sick disappears as soon as it hits the enchanted carpet, but mystically materialises when someone steps in it.

I see dead birds and mice under the dining room table. Oops, sorry, that's not magic, that's sixth sense.

Empty wine bottles disappear as soon as they are placed on the enchanted patio, by the side of our invisible recycling boxes. Any recycling has to be piled up in the castle kitchen, by the rear entrance to the castle grounds. It then renders itself invisible on the enchanted kitchen doormat.

Every time I enter the kitchen of the enchanted castle, the dishwasher materialises, but no-one else has ever seen it, so dirty dishes are piled up on the work surfaces and I am the only one who can load it up and empty it.

My eldest son's laundry basket also materialises, whenever I enter his bedroom, but unfortunately, it has never materialised for him. He has to put his dirty washing in an untidy pile on the landing outside his bedroom door, where it becomes invisible to everyone, unless they trip over it, when it will suddenly appear.

Any old rubbish, which my sons no longer want in their bedrooms, they move into the enchanted garage or shed, in the castle grounds. It then, apparently, turns into ancient treasure and must be protected from the wicked witch, who will take it to the tip if she gets half a chance. Only the wicked witch knows the whereabouts of the tip in the enchanted forest. Should any ancient treasure accidentally fall into her eager hands, a spell will be cast upon the original owner of the treasure, his soul will be torn from his body and his tortuous cries will echo through the aeon's of time into eternity, or so it will seem, anyway.

Now that my sons are grown and poised to venture out alone into the big wide world, I have to find the words to somehow explain to them, that we have only ever lived in a fairly modern house, on the edge of a housing estate and that the bitter, ugly, menopausal fairy, their mom and the wicked witch have only ever been one and the same person. I will also explain that if they look hard enough, they will see many things, that there is nothing scary about the local tip and that it does not lie in the enchanted forest. They are confusing it with a totally different scary place, known as HM Revenue and Customs. This is the place which lies in the middle of the enchanted forest and every grown up knows that they must avoid visiting it, or they will surely be eaten alive and never be heard of, ever again.

I will point out to my sons that the local tip is not a wicked place, anyone can find it by simply following the signposts and that no-one will suffer eternal torment if they decide to get rid of a few broken toys.

One day soon, I will get through to my sons, they will hear the words coming out of my mouth and perhaps, for a short while, we will finally exist in harmony, before they leave to set up their own homes and live happily ever after in riverside apartments. It is a fairy story, remember?


A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Oh how I empathize with this one - do they ever notice anything? My Son now says (airily) "Oh I never iron anything!" Well, all I can say is that when he was at home, he wore clothes that were ironed!!
Lovely fairy story:) M xx

Maggie May said...

That was a really good summary of what it is like to have family depending on you! I have had son, wife & 2 grand daughters living with us for 9 months (temporarily) so I feel a bit like this too!
I didn't find teenagers particularly easy!
I enjoy your descriptive style of writing!

Sweet Irene said...

I used to have such a son who believed in a fairy mother, until he moved out on his own, and lo and behold, it turned out that he knew all about tidying up and doing laundry and hanging up his clean clothes and taking the garbage out. He had me fooled all along and was a domestically tamed fairy prince after all and I, who had also become such a mean old witch, became a kindly middle aged independently functioning liberated woman.

We are determined by our circumstances and luckily saved by the change of them on time, or is it just too late? We can all look back and have a good laugh about ourselves. The things we worried about, when life is so short and the tidying up is endless.

It is a good thing that they do grow up enough to give us this perspective or we would go crazy in our lack of it.

softinthehead said...

You forgot to mention that the invisible toilet, surely that's the only reason they can't hit the bowl!?! What a lovely fairy tale - beautifully written - so glad you're back

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

It's nice to have you back and hopefully well. There's a fairy in our castle too, but she's not as good as yours.

Dusty Spider said...

'im indoors has magic underpants. He throws them on the floor and somehow they arrive in his drawer, washed and folded! Oh, I've just realised I must be a fairy godmother and this is an enchanted castle. Thanks for enlightening me moodymom! Flick xx

Mean Mom said...

a mother's place is in the wrong -I have to confess that I do not iron my 2 eldest sons' clothes any more. They wore too many and I couldn't keep up. I feel that my eldest 2 lads are a bit old to be still living at home, but they can't afford to move out, at the moment. They wear their clothes creased and I try not to care.

maggie may - you are a saintly lady to have had so many extra people living in your house. My eldest son's previous girlfriend had a 3 months old baby when he met her. They came to live with us for about 18 months altogether, because his girlfriend had a few problems. It was wonderful at times, but almost impossible at others. I still miss that child, however.

sweet irene - I hope that my eldest son is fooling me about the domestic chores, too, in a way. He is looking for a house with his girlfriend, but he will soon be moving back in with mom and dad, I'm sure, if he doesn't do his share of the chores!

softinthehead - yes! I knew that someone would think of something I had missed! You are so right. It's nice to be back. People have been so kind.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee - I'm relieved that you haven't forgotten me. I am OK, but I think I would probably be better if I could take HRT, to be honest.

I would like to be viewed as a good fairy, for once, instead of wicked witch!

Thanks for your comments, everyone!

merry weather said...

Ha! Love this post - and your garden of tranquility. That must give you much needed peace of mind. But how do you cope with the footballs?? And I can so relate to the fairy / witch thing, having 3 boys of my own. Who are much like yours perhaps :)

Mean Mom said...

dusty spider - You sound like a fairy godmother to me! 'im indoors is a lucky man!

merry weather - Oh, those footballs! Don't get me started!

The garden did get bashed about a bit. They tried not to bash it about too much and I tried not to moan too much.

You had 3 sons, too. We may well have had some similiar experiences, then. Most of my current friends have daughters. I don't want to generalise too much, but I feel that it can be a very different experience bringing up boys! You probably know what I mean.

grit said...

i love the idea of an enchanted shed. that's just what a 2 foot long shed should do ... swallow all items crammed into them since 1953, without complaining.

Mean Mom said...

grit - How my 4 men would love one of those!

Working mum said...

Found you via 'A Mother's Place is in the Wrong'. I'm so jealous of your garden; I had a lovely garden I'd grown from scratch, then we moved. Having to start over is hard. This post doesn't fill me with hope for the future; or is it just boys who believe in fairies? Perhap girls turn into fairies. I live in hope! Will be back.

Mean Mom said...

Working mum - The thought of leaving my garden behind does put me off the idea of moving, to a certain extent! It takes a while for a garden to mature and the wait can be a bit frustrating.

When I visit my student son, I notice that the girls' rooms seem to be tidier than the boys', so perhaps you are in luck.

Debra in France said...

Hi Mean Mom, so glad you are back!! My husband lives in an enchanted house as well. We have the fire fairy - the fires ans swept, cleaned and re-laid before he even opens his eyes. The recycling fairy - all the overflowing recycling bags are emptied in the blink of an eye. The bathroom fairy - with a wave of a magic wand everything is sparkling again and the dinner fairy - delcious meals appear by magic. The dinner fairy can also make the dirty dishes vanish as well!! Honestly if I vanished he would not have enough hourse in the day!

Mean Mom said...

debra in france - Thanks for the welcome back.

My feelings exactly - and how much would it cost to get someone else to come in and do all that??