Returning to Manchester is rarely as cut and dry as I envision it even under the most innocuous of circumstances.
Family visits bring with them an undisclosed minefield of potential faux pas, multiplied tenfold when you’re tagging along with your toddler (who is, quite frankly, the only reason you’re likely being allowed back in the first place).
Over the increasing number of years since moving away I’ve devised a short mantra of DO’s and DONT’s – they’re by no means exhaustive and, fuck knows, they only work 70% of the time but there’s something incredibly comforting about listing in the face of adversity.
- Do spend the first day arguing with your parents, grandparents…basically anybody of blood relation that lives within a three mile radius. It’s cleansing and helps to re-establish boundaries. It’ll also prevent you falling into comfortable familiarity.
- Do buy and cook (at minumum) one meal, at least if you want those elusive ‘it was so lovely seeing you’ surprise tenners to find their way into your pockets before departing.
- On a related note – try to do the follwing where appropriate; wash the dishes, make your bed, hoover, disguise/put right/apologise for all damages inflicted on walls/furniture/a beloved pet by your child, hang out the laundry and be on hand as hot beverage monkey whenever the need arises.
- Do mind your P’s and Q’s.
- Don’t be meek. Chide relatives if they overstep the mark in regards to your child, sometimes it’s hard for them to differentiate between you as a teenager and you as a parent.
- Do book a two way ticket (keeping an ideal return date in mind). Single journeys inevitably lead to a ‘few more days’ mentality, consequently you will either outstay your welcome or your tolerance level.
- Don’t tie yourself in to a specific return jourey (especially if you’re travelling by train), it might secure you a seat but only fervent prayer to whatever deity is listening will make certain you get it.
- In the case of staying with your folks, moreso if it entails sleeping in an old bedroom, don’t remain there longer than a week – enough free babysitting, fresh bedding you didn’t have to wrangle yourself and home cooking – you may never want to go back to your own place.
The latter point was, in short, what happened to me when my three day jaunt became something bordering on fourteen.
An undiluted sense of duty (and hitching a cheeky lift with my mother) was all that got me and the kiddly-bean back to Edinburgh in good time for him starting nursery on the 3rd – once again proving, I’m completely shit at following my own advice.