Polly Gillespie reflects on the rollercoaster ride of parenthood and raising her brilliant yet baffling son.
“How come the cereal doesn’t just go in the bowl?” my son asked, as he held a half-empty breakfast bowl and stared in annoyed bafflement at the sea of crunchy golden cereal flakes that encircled him on the kitchen floor.
I could do a 20-minute stand-up set just on my youngest son. In fact, I have. My impression of him is astounding. Perhaps even brilliant. I can have a friend, a group, or a crowd in gales of laughter by mimicking my baby boy. He is what we in the business call “content gold”.
The apple of my eye. My baby. A brilliant, handsome, athletic, funny, talented-and-completely-enabled-by-his-mother muppet. I love him more than life, but on the daily, he says and does things that make me wonder how in God’s name I raised such a ridiculous person.
He says and does things that make me wonder how in God’s name I raised such a ridiculous person
I mean that ever so kindly, and feel I have the right to say it. The kid got excellence in NCEA and played several sports for Wellington in his age grade. Models miss a step when he sits with me front-row at fashion week, and he’s a completely brilliant graphic artist, Twitter star and regular on US gaming YouTube channels.
He’s the Michaelangelo and Michael Jordan of everything he does, but trying to get him to mow the lawns, put anything in a bowl, or make an international flight, is rare if not impossible.
He would, along with his older brother, turn up at school dressed strictly to code. My older boy would still look “buttoned- down” at the end of the day, but to quote one of my youngest’s school masters, “Polly, your boy is five minutes at school and he looks like s***!”
Every week, I was madly sewing on buttons, repairing shirts and buying ridiculously expensive PE gear. He once went on a school rugby trip to South America and came back with no clothes and no phone, just what he was wearing plus one odd shoe.
His coach told me, “Your boy played well, but left his clothes all over Argentina and Uruguay.” He also lost his blazer, wallet and rugby boots.
Once, he sailed along on a bus three suburbs away. As I drove him home from the station, I asked why he didn’t get off. He replied, “The bus didn’t stop.”
“Did you push the buzzer?” I asked. “What buzzer?”
He got to 15 not knowing to push a bus buzzer. Oh yes, I know he was privileged.
“Mini!” he yelled from his bedroom.
I shouted to him to get off his bum and come talk to me in my room. He made an annoyed groan, because now he’d have to move away from his computer for 10 whole seconds.
“Mini! Are my jeans clean?” “Where did you put them?” I asked. “Behind the bath,” he replied. “Then unless they walked to the washing machine,” I said in my mother’s voice, “No!”
Another groan of disapproval.
He’s tumbled at high speed off a Flamingo scooter while attempting to text or look for a vape in his pocket, and lost his passport in a strange park (I don’t want to know how or why) eight hours before a flight to LA. He’s the apple of my eye and yet at the same time the goofy prodigal son – and just so adored.
When he was about eight and our family was in the Auckland International Koru Lounge, a beautifully dressed elderly woman approached just to tell me what a wonderful, well-mannered young man he was. I was dumbfounded, but certainly pleased he saved his spoilt-boy behaviour for home.
Recently, I was in a parking building, when a voice behind me said, “Excuse me. Are you McGregor’s mother?” I’d had this before, but normally from pretty, giggling young women. This person was a well-dressed, middle-aged woman.
“Why yes, I am,” I replied, hoping it was good news.
“I just wanted you to know what a privilege it is to have your son working for me. He’s an absolute star. I can ask him to do anything and he does it fabulously. You should be so proud.”
At this point, I started to tear up. “Thank you so much,” I said in a trembling voice. “That’s such lovely feedback.”
“Well,” she continued earnestly, “He’s a great kid, and a fantastic asset.”
He’s a goof, and he believes clothes get magically laundered if you stow them behind the bath. He doesn’t know how to call the bank, or get cereal anywhere but on the floor. But apparently my baby boy is awesome at his job. My heart was filled with pride, mixed with a good dose of relief. Raising my kids is the only important job I’ve ever had, and at times I’ve felt completely useless at it, but as I got into my car I fully burst into tears.
Kids, eh? I adore the little scallywags.