In the car after school pickup the other day, I mentioned to Miss Just-Turned-11 that a friend’s mum had invited her for a play date. “That will be so cool!” she replied, happily. “Even though her little brother will be there, and sometimes he’s annoying.” From the back seat, Master Five piped up, “I’m your little brother, and sometimes I’m annoying!” Then he added confidently, “It’s my job.”
I happen to have two little brothers, myself, although they’re not so little any more – they’re both a head or so taller than me, and all grown up. And they’re no longer annoying. I’m not sure when that happened, but somewhere along the way, they stopped being annoying and started being awesome. There wasn’t really an in-between. One day they were yelling “I KNOW YOU ARE BUT WHAT AM I” at the tops of their lungs and decapitating my Barbies, and the next day they were super-cool and fun to hang out with.
But if their job while we were growing up was to annoy me, we are now united in a mutual goal to annoy our mother. A few weeks ago, my youngest brother Skyped me while our mum was visiting him and his wife for a week. We spent most of the call teasing our mother about various things, while my sister-in-law alternately giggled and admonished us from the background.
So while I’m not currently the object of their annoyance, I know that at some point, my children will stop annoying one another and start annoying me – on purpose. And I’ll be helpless because they’ll outnumber me. They’ll gang up on me and tease me and if I’m lucky, I’ll have a daughter-in-law or a son-in-law in the background to try to defend me.
Thus, I’ve decided to pre-emptively annoy my children, as a defensive tactic. If I annoy them enough when they’re kids, perhaps they’ll realise my skill at being annoying and will think twice before they make me the object of future mocking (no matter how good-natured). Maybe they’ll turn their mischievous banter to their father. Although I suspect he can give it back even better than I can.
Before bed that evening, I peppered Miss 11 with questions about her day, asked her six times if she’d brushed her teeth, bothered her about the book she was reading, fussed over her duvet, and pinched her cheeks a few times while calling her “my little punum”. About 15 minutes of this and I hit paydirt. “Mum, you’re SO ANNOYING!” she wailed, exasperatedly.
“Yes,” I replied. “It’s my job.”
One I learned from my very annoying little brothers.