Stone-Age Mamma and the Mystery of Everybody Else’s Parents.

If I rubbed my teapot one day and the Yorkshire Brew genie popped out to offer me three wishes, it’d be easy. My first wish would be to kick cancer’s butt off the face of the earth. The second to pay off my mortgage. And the third would be to finally meet “Everybody Else’s Parents.”

Our kids all have the same friend, although bizarrely the gender and age varies enormously. Said friend is called “Everybody Else.” You may have met Everybody Else, but never his or her mysterious, generous and philanthropic genitors. Everyone Else lives in a childhood Nirvana – a teenager’s heaven where his or her every wish is the adult’s desire. Strapped for cash? Need a ride to the cinema? Feel an insatiable desire to respond to that Pavlovian reflex set off by the announcement of a new Play Station? Look no further: Everybody Else’s parents are ready and willing to grant their child’s every wish.

These parents are the summom bonum of parenting. They are an ode to educational endeavor; pioneers of parental prowess. They are in synchrony with their kids – so much so, in fact, that they seem to know what their offspring need before they even know it themselves. Walk into the Everybody Else household, and weep: these guys are in osmosis to such an extent that they are inches from melting into a pulsating, lime-green pool of happiness.

Caveman Couple
MM and PF, stone-aged parents, on their way to the butchers to buy a pound of mammoth for dinner (Photo credit: San Diego Shooter)

Now for a little history. Everybody Else’s Parents have been out doing us mere mortals in the parenting stakes since Neolithic times. At that time, PF and MM’s forbearers still had callouses on their knuckles from ambling along on all fours and forcing their kids to be self-respecting, independent hunter-gatherers who checked the pelt of the bear for parasites before they attempted to kill it with their home-made daggers. In the cave next-door, however, Everybody Else’s parents were already at the cutting-edge of flintstone parenting. They were the first to have a cart with square wheels and a matching turbo-charged dino parked outside their cave entrance. They ordered take-out mammoth every weekend and sent their kids to flint-chipping workshops at the local geek’s cave, dressed in the latest designer bearskins. The entire family watched blockbusters like “Menhir Black” on their stone tablets, and were the first to tote the stone-age ancestor of Steve Job’s technological wizardry – the iStone.

Throughout the ages, MM and PF’s ancestors kicked out against consumerism as a basis for parenting, and refused to keep up with Everybody Else’s Parents. Perfection being in the eye of the beholder, our creations are only too happy to point out that although we have progressed to communicating, standing upright and eating with cutlery, we have not evolved as much as they would have liked.

The iStone, little-known ancestor of the iPhone.

I have been measured with Everybody Else’s parental yardstick since my kids were old enough to clamour their indignation about our parental decisions. We are the most unhip, untrendy, tight-fisted, screwed-up old parents in the whole damned universe. If Victorian parents existed in France, that would be us, with a twist of Dickensian malevolence for good measure (I have a real Miss Havisham side to me, letting them see their cake but not eat it, whereas PF is a more Fagin type, forcing his kids to help out around our family hovel).

Now. Everybody Else is a charming kid, despite an upbringing with all the laxity of a eucalyptus suppository. He is never tired, despite the fact that his ultra-cool parents allow him to go out drinking late on school days, and always does his homework late at night in his bed because they allow him to exercise his thumbs on the Play Station soon as he gets home until well after dinner. Everybody Else’s girfriend has been sleeping over for the last three years and has even been encouraged her to come and live with them.

In comparison, of course, we do not cut the mustard.

We do not stand by the door jangling our keys when our kids want to go out to a friend’s house, whereas Everybody Else’s parents are generally scratching at the door like beagles that have picked up on the scent of game as soon as their teen twitches a Prada-clad toe. My general reaction is to ask them to look down, and show them the cheapest and healthiest method of transport ever: feet.

Beef Up Foreign Food Inspection

Trying to convince MM that frozen IKEA desserts are edible (Photo credit: Mike Licht,

Food is another bone of contention. Whilst I am no Nigella Lawson, I scrupulously read the ingredients on the rare cakes and biscuits I buy. The rule of thumb is that if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it. This puts my children in a different world to Everybody Else, who is rumoured to open the kitchen cupboard on his return from school to choose from overflowing shelves of chocolate, snacks and sweets that no doubt glow in the dark. Everybody Else’s Parents allow their kids to slob out in the rooms alone and eat an entire family packet of M&M’s each until three in the morning, whereas we round up all our kids and watch a film or a documentary together. Shock. Horror.

I have kept an eye out for these parents at every parent-teacher meeting, and casually questioned the genitors of other teens, but to no avail. Everybody Else’s parents never show up. I have a possible explanation for this – as they selflessly fund the most recent technology, driving lessons, cars, generous allowances and designer clothes for their fringe-flicking progeny, they obviously work 24/7 – they are probably dental surgeons or lawyers by day, with a sideline in bank-robbing at night.

So until the Yorkshire Brew genie proves otherwise, I will presume that Everybody Else’s Parents are as mythical as the legendary Prince Charming. But that’s another story, folks…

57 thoughts on “Stone-Age Mamma and the Mystery of Everybody Else’s Parents.

  1. Brilliant observation!!!! I am well acquainted with the Everybody Else family, second hand of course through my children who know these people better than anyone!! Strange though how the Everybody Else clan turns out to have just one or two members and not the huge extended numbers which we’re led to believe… 😉

    • Weird, isn’t it! I have yet to see this army of children who own all the latest technology, have been going to nightclubs since they were 13, eat what they want when they want and get 20/20 for all their homework… Maybe I’m not looking in the right place. Or maybe my kids aren’t friends with them – now that might be a telling sign that we’re not as bad at parenting as they make out… 😉

  2. Your writing is delightful, darling. I love the way your mind works, and the colourful prose – I was laughing so hard at the line about the eucalyptus suppository!

    • Thank you, sweetie pie. My mind is very unusual; according to my children, Everybody Else’s parents are real grown-ups. Good for them – do you think a eucalyptus suppository would loosen them up a bit? I’m sticking with my weird imagination, chupa chups and virtual pals 🙂

      • Tell them a scary story of the nightmare days before the Internet, when the hair was big, the clothes were flashy, and Michael Jackson was still black. Back when, if you wanted to “download” a new song, you had to wait until it came around again on the radio and then tape it to cassette, complete with the DJ talking over the beginning or cutting off the end. They’ll wonder how you ever survived.

      • In the great history of life, my childhood is ranked somewhere between the Jurassic and the Ark by my children. The oldest deems it normal that I survived the cultural and technological desert you describe so well on the basis that I am “arty farty”, hence requiring no more than a book, paper and a pen to survive. I still tend to agree. Do you remember rewinding your cassettes with your pencil to save your Walkman batteries? Them wuz the days 🙂

      • I used to be able to do it WHILE riding my bike. (Which I somehow survived doing, despite not wearing a helmet, or knee and elbow pads).
        I am the Queen of multitasking. In fact right now I am typing this on my iPhone while making an omelette and coffee.

  3. I only wish I had read this (OR you had written it) 10 years ago. I actually terminated the friendship of two Everybody Else parents (which hurt because I had known them for 25+ years) for allowing their little darlings to have drinking parties “UNDER THEIR ROOF” and of course the argument was ” well we know exactly where they are” . The world has changed a lot but some of us have not. In my case it maybe genetic as my father never let me get my ears pierced because if god wanted my ears pierced I would have been born that way ! BRAVO !!!!

    • You knew Everybody Else’s parents? Wowsers! Sounds like a risky business though… I don’t like the idea of wading through vomiting and subconsious teenagers to get my children back… It’d be interesting to know how what kind of adults their kids became. I wasn’t allowed pierced ears either – our parents did the same training school 🙂

      • I complied to my parents’ rules for as long as I lived under their roof. When I moved out it was to go to university. I got my ears pierced, and they got over it, I’m sorry it turned out like that for you 😦

  4. These must be a recent (oh, O.K., relatively recent) arrival on the planet…and the planet could do without them.
    As far as I can recall Everybody Else’s parents were just like mine….fridge out of bounds, music to be kept low, sensible shoes and get that homework done before dinner.
    I have been laughing so much while reading this…but am of the view that Duncan’s policy is the one to follow. Search and destroy.

      • Just looking at the super hero role models for women: if I try to squeeze my way into any of their costumes the effect on those hunted down will be instant blindness….like a modern day Medusa….and they don’t seem to do thermal versions…

      • Mouais. Do you need a thermal version for Costa Rica? I think that Catwoman would suit you fine – you could scare the crap out of the Wonder Woman down the road 🙂

  5. I’d probably tell them that’s why Everyone Else’s Parents drink and pour myself a cold one. I remember trying that with my parents. I gave it up pretty early.

    • Well, that’s one thing all parents have in common then… alcohol, the common denominator between them all 🙂 I didn’t even try with my parents because we were in a whole separate category: no car, no TV. The other kids at school considered us aliens, but we got books, writing, cookery, sailing, theatre, acting, singing, playing musical instruments… Thank you, Mum & Dad 😀

  6. Brilliant! Loved the prehistoric image. I feel like that sometimes too. Mind you, I seem to remember I assailed my parents’ ears with Everybody Else’s Parents so I suppose I can’t complain. When I tell my boys I know the ‘combine’ because I’ve been there, etc… they tend to shut up and mutter.

  7. Just wait and see, one day when ‘Everybody Else’s Parents’ are a distant memory… your kids will tell their kids what wonderful grandparents they’ve got and their kids will drive them nuts with comments about ‘Everybody Else’s Parents’! What goes around, comes around! 😀

    • mmm. Us? “Wonderful parents”? Gerrof wiv ya, kiddo. We’re mean, stingy old gits that refuse to buy our progeny the most recent technology, they’ll never say we were wonderful… althought it may be necessary if they need us for baby-sitting duties – yipee, playmo time !!

      • Maybe you should make them read your blog, they might realise just what a cool and funny mumma they have! Your grand kids are going to love you! Hell, I want to come and have playtime with you (especially if Mr Merlot’s invited!) I’ll bring my three with me and they can have an adult type conference with your three about ‘Everybody Else’s Parents’ while Mutley and Smelly dog romp in the garden and we sit on the floor with the Playmo and Mr Merlot! 😀

      • Sounds like a serious plan, TAC. Hobnobs with that Merlot? Then we can put the kids to bed, get trashed and make up politically incorrect stories with my Playmo’s. I’ll even lend you my Peter Pan if you share your Black Jacks 🙂

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you! It doesn’t sound like you’re “sucking up” at all – and I’m happy to admit that I enjoy hearing that you enjoy reading my stuff – life’s too short to pretend I don’t like compliments 😉

  8. Yep, I remember saying similar things to my own parents… I feel like this is (yet another) great argument for raising your children in complete isolation: away from television and other people. Then I can save money on clothes and we can just all run around in togas or something.

    • The idea is great, but mankind’s never worked that way… even in the stone age we kept up with the Jones’ one way or the other. I like the idea of running around in togas. I just need George Clooney and Colin Firth dressed likewise to feed me grapes 🙂

  9. Just brilliant, MM 🙂 DH and I were way ahead of you in the mean parents stakes, denying our two TV and their own stereos and expecting them to get their homework done and help around the house. Oh, and early bedtimes! Everyone Else’s parents let their offspring stay up as long as they wanted, but what DH and I wanted was a little bit of time to ourselves at the end of the day. 🙂

  10. I really enjoyed reading that. 🙂 We had an Everyone Else round here too but we were very much the cruel, heartless, Stone Age parents who insisted on reasonable bed times, no TV in the bedroom until old enough to have left home, good healthy meals, and time spent en famille.

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