Years ago, before I even contemplated having children, I noticed that parents seemed to divide up into two groups.

Group One parents were responsible and cautious.  They put plastic covers on all the plugs, did criminal record checks on the nannies and researched primary schools exhaustively. They talked a lot about having the best for their children — who frequently turned out sullen and secretive, staying in bed till noon and partying till 3am while their long-suffering parents worked all night to get a B on child’s history essay.

Group Two parents barely seemed to notice their offspring. These children could generally be found under the table at a pub playing with sharpened sticks or inventing fantasy worlds with their best friends — menopausal transvestites or invisible insects. As they matured, they showed signs of being hard-working, sane, considered, and desperate to rebel against the fecklessness of the adults in their lives.


Time passed and I gave birth to my own scientific experiment.  Always something of a lazy libertarian, I opted for Group Two status.

Now, as the experiment enters its fourteenth year, I’m pleased to report that Subject A is following the hypothesis nicely. She is hard-working, funny, responsible, nearly always lends us money if we ask politely and rarely uses her superior intelligence to unfair advantage.

Yesterday, when I mentioned that her dad and I might leave London to travel for a year or two, she leapt at the opportunity to call dibs on the family home.

I was busy reworking a tricky chapter at the time, but I’m fairly sure the deed I signed isn’t binding.




6 thoughts on “Experimenting on your children.

  1. Amanda 8 years ago

    Has she seen Risky Business? As long as there’s a “no dancing in underwear” clause you should be good.

  2. Jane 8 years ago

    My own experiments have been the victim of their mother veering uneasily between the two approaches, which explains a lot.

    If your experiment had you signing a deed, she’s good.

  3. Jo Angell 8 years ago

    Meg! I was recently wondering how (your) teen years are going, so I was very happy to read this which was tweeted by a friend of mine.
    Jo, Barney, Rosa, Tom x ps. Our scientific experiments seem to be turning out OK…

  4. bookwitch 8 years ago

    I can arrange to lend a sitter.

  5. nicola baird 8 years ago

    omg, leave london for a year or two and TRAVEL. How wonderful is that – can’t tell (because you insist you are a category 2 parent) whether you plan to take the experimental kid along with you or not, I hope so!!

    1. Meg 8 years ago

      No, sadly not. We’re waiting for her to go to university and the dogs to um…..

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