This photo absolutely made my day this week.
I’m not a fan of the royals generally speaking, but I have to admit that I do admire Kate Middleton and how she somehow manages to seem pretty normal despite all the pomp and circumstance. Of course, she wasn’t born to it, so she is pretty normal in comparison to her in-laws, I suppose.
That look on her face is the exact look that my mother used to get when we were pushing it to the absolute limit but were in a public place and so she was trying not to create a scene (or add to the scene that we were already creating). You can communicate a hell of a lot with that look and a few choice sentences hissed between those gritted teeth, believe me. If the behaviour was to continue, the teeth were combined with what has since been dubbed by my siblings and I as ‘the vice grip’. My mother’s hand would close around ours with a strength and speed saved especially for these moments and we knew that we were deep in trouble.
If we were in really, really deep trouble, it would be accompanied by one, single word. A word that was enough to stop us in our tracks. Well, my sister and I at least, my brother probably had the gumption to push things just a wee bit further just to prove that he was his own boss.
‘Right!’ And the hand would shoot out, the vice grip would engage and we would be marched to somewhere out of the limelight until we could be trusted to behave.
And now I do it too. All of it. The teeth, the vice grip, and in times of extreme provocation, ‘Right’. It’s amazing the things that you inherit from you parents. I’ve always been a lot like my father but increasingly as I get older I find myself becoming more and more like my Mum. Apart from some of the mannerisms and phrases that come out, it’s nice to see how we are similar in some quite fundamental ways.
Not quite a fundamental, but I’m not sad that I’ve inherited my mother’s ‘gritted teeth and vice grip technique’. Because the only thing worse than your children being awful little shits, is when they’re being awful little shits in public.
Sometimes it feels like public meltdowns are also a public judging of your parenting ability. People look at your children and their behaviour and then at your reaction and you are weighed and measured right there and then. And as much as I know that some of this feeling is because of my tendency to mindread and personalise things, I know that sometimes it’s true. I confess, I know it’s true because there have been times I’ve been on the jury.
Anyway, for Kate Middleton and her kiddos, everyone is literally watching her. And judging her. And critcising her when they get the chance. Imagine bringing up your children in the public eye like that. What a nightmare. I love that she has the gritted teeth going on in that photo. And I love that the vice grip actually belongs to her husband in this instance. I mean, look at that wee boy’s fingers. They’re going white from the pressure. That’s a team approach to parenting if ever I saw one. Good on you, Team Cambridge, I’m with you on this one.