Family Competition

‘I will not be exploited as your family’s beast of burden!’ Peirene walks into the house with a flushed face and drops of perspiration on her 124753728_54ac2d7122_zforehead. I am confused. As far as I am aware, she just took our gift orders to the post office. Like every day for the last two weeks, there were quite a few envelopes but they all fit perfectly into the shopping trolley. And pulling it to the post office is not such hard work after all.

Peirene throws herself onto the sofa, fanning her face with a magazine. ‘Your son!’ she is gasping. ‘Half of the trolley was stuffed with his packages.’ She breathes in short bursts. ‘Get me a glass of water before I die.’

While I head towards the kitchen I can’t help smiling.

I often worry about my children’s future. Their lack of Germanic order exasperates me. I am convinced that they will never achieve anything in their lives without it. My proof? My son drops his coat on the floor or the stairs. I find his muddy football boots in the living room or kitchen or toilet. And his dirty clothes are thrown in the vicinity of the washing basket, but never ever inside. And my daughter, who travelled for six months on her own through South America and has just completed her first term at uni, returns home only to stand in my office six o’clock sharp: ‘Mum, when is dinner? I’m starving.’

They can’t even look after themselves! How are they supposed to achieve what they want? All my role-modeling of hard work and discipline has not born any fruits.

I pour a glass of water for the Nymph. The facts, however, clearly contradict my worries. My daughter is organising an art festival at her college and my son has set up a business on e-bay – selling DVDs. It’s booming and he has even cracked the art of job delegation.

I hand the Nymph her water. She drinks, then closes her eyes. ‘Leave me alone,’ she mumbles. ‘I am exhausted.’

I walk upstairs to my son’s room. ‘You’ve exhausted the poor Nymph. I think you owe her an apology.’ I stop. ‘Having said that… I am impressed by your success,’ I continue in honest admiration. ‘How about expanding your e-bay shop and selling Peirene books. Like that you might be able to persuade her to continue doing the post run for you.’

He rolls his eyes. ‘Mum, my business works because I offer well known films, not some obscure books,’ he informs me.

‘Well, my son, then I guess you have to get the Nymph a very nice Christmas present indeed and promise to give her a smile and a hug whenever she carries your parcels to the post office.’

Image by Jos.

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