One thing my mother laughs about is my Mini-Me daughter giving me back the same treatment I gave her when I was young. This is my parents’ small, sunny and busy kitchen (my parents and my daughter in the kitchen in this photo).
30+ years ago, I used to sit at the kitchen table with my mother and younger brother preparing for A levels (my brother and I were in the same year at school because I took a year out).
I used to huff in impatience at my mother as she struggled to teach me.
“Oh, Ma!” I would exclaim crossly. I would push my chair back noisily and flounce off, scathing at the way her stubby fingers punched the keys on her ancient calculator. She used to annoy me with her slowness.
My brilliant ma was one of the very few women who were offered a place to read medicine back in those days. But she turned down the opportunity to marry my father.
“You would never have made it as a doctor, you’re so slow,” I remember my 17-year-old self telling her that haughtily.
Fast forward 33 years and now, my 17-year-old does exactly the same to me, huffing in annoyance at my slowness. Even though I have fast fingers and a scientific calculator, she is lightning fast with long calculations that she can do in her head without writing a single thing down.
“You actually got a place in medical school?” She asked, raising an eyebrow. “But mum, you’re so slow! You can’t even do the Born Haber Cycle without pen and paper!”
I am ragged and frazzled from tutoring her, and I often moan to my mum about my suffering.
“Never mind, dear,” my mum would say consolingly, and I can just about detect humour in her voice across the 6,000 miles. “You are learning from your daughter something that I failed to teach you.”