There are random things in life which tend to upset my sense of equilibrium.
People who don’t have their purses ready to pay at the till, someone who won’t sell you breakfast because it’s 11.01am, the fact that the film Pixels only got 16 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
But enough of the preamble, if there’s one thing guaranteed to make me twitch with unease, it’s smug parents. Most recent case in point: Judy Murray.
On the back of Andy Murray becoming number one tennis player in the world, she gave an exclusive interview to the Sunday Times extolling the virtues of bringing up children the hard way if you want them to succeed in life. Don’t mollycoddle them, she advised.
‘Get them to pack their bags themselves and if they forget their tennis shoes, so be it. They’ll learn from their mistakes etc, etc.’
Is that so?
A decade ago I happened to join the back of a long queue at Nice airport waiting to check in for a cheap Jet2 flight to Edinburgh.
A number of people in front were nudging each other and looking in my direction so, naturally, I looked to see what all the fuss was about. And who was standing directly behind me?
Andy Murray playing his Gameboy after being unceremoniously knocked out of the first round of the Monte-Carlo Masters.
And next to him? Judy, stood like a pack horse and loaded down with all his (six or so) tennis bags.
Tough love didn’t extend to carrying the bags it seems…
Now before, I get egged for criticising a national institution, just let me say I’m a huge Murray fan and have cheered him on from Murray Mound/ Henman Hill twice.
I don’t doubt for a second Judy laid down the foundations (and paid a huge wad of cash) to get her sons to a certain level and I applaud her for that.
However, since becoming a parent myself, I’ve also become wary of parents who claim they know how to produce a perfect child.
The interview reminded me of a book released a few years back called ‘French Children Don’t Throw Food’, written by New Yorker Pamela Druckerman
While shacking up en famille in Paris with her English hubby she ‘couldn’t help but notice’ how French kids never had tantrums in supermarkets; how two month-old French babies always slept through the night.
“And how do French mothers always look so sexy, cool and chic (and pencil thin) within days of giving birth?” she pondered.
Try reading that when you a) feel fat as a walrus b) your darling cherub just vomited over a cream carpet c) your eyes are black from months of broken sleep.
Smug parents make ordinary parents feel like abject failures; like smug marrieds made Bridget Jones feel like the last spinster in the shop.
If your kid ends up being a roaring success, take some quiet credit but be wary of eulogising.
And I hate to say it but, as Boris Becker predicted, Andy’s success at the top tier of tennis would come only after he and his mum parted professional ways.