The defining force behind the Marx Brothers was not Groucho, Chico or Harpo (or even Zeppo, or Gummo), but their mother, Minnie. Mrs Marx drove her boys pretty hard, to follow her into a career in Vaudeville, where she’d enjoyed a fairly lively career herself. In fact, trivia fans, her early career is referenced in the excellent ‘Carter Beats the Devil’ book, under the alias of Minnie Palmer. Anyway, I mention her name, as I heard an interesting story about her approach to parenting last week from Jr Emu #1. Apparently, in a bid to save money, Minnie would travel by train with all four (or five) of her boys on child fares. On one such trip, the conductor approached her mid-journey.
‘Madam’, he said, ‘Of your children on this train, one is smoking a cigar in the first class carriage, and another is having a shave in the bathroom’
‘Gosh’, said Minnie, ‘they grow up so fast, don’t they?’
I was reminded of this story, when called upon to give The Talk On Drugs And Sex to Jr Emu#2 earlier this week. TTOD&S doesn’t get made very often in our house, largely as the subject matter is delivered far more successfully by free access to the internet, adolescent boys being adolescent boys, and having a nurse for a mother. But occasionally, fatherly advice needs to be given, and for want of a more qualified person in the family, I’m enlisted to help.
‘So’, I said to #2, after a particularly challenging discussion on why meow meow was essentially a bad thing, is there anything you need to know about sex? Anything bugging you about stuff you don’t understand?’
‘Only one thing’, said #2.
‘Then ask away’, I said, in as much of a man of the world fashion as I could muster.
‘It’s just that I’ve never really understood what felching is’
As Mrs Marx would say, they do grow up so fast.