Hilary Fannin: The bill for our scrambled eggs is coming.  We mortgage quickly to arrive at the cash

Hilary Fannin: The bill for our scrambled eggs is coming. We mortgage quickly to arrive at the cash

I met a friend for breakfast downtown recently. We ate some tepid scrambled eggs served with a single tooth-chattering chilled cherry tomato on the side, along with two pale slices of toasted sourdough bread and a mug of bitter coffee.

Although we had kept in touch about Covid, we hadn’t seen each other in about three years. He looked good, fit, focused, looking younger and happier than at our last meeting. He had taken care of himself, he said, traveling less and dividing his time between town and country.

The bill for the cold plate of grayish eggs came. Scanning the eye-popping sum, we quickly refinanced, selling our first-born children and auctioning off a piece of our vital organs to come up with the money, and then, limping from financial shock, decided to walk the walk to help our recovery.

There was a freedom for my generation, especially in my 20s, to live and grow in the capital. We were free to create work and friendships and mistakes and spaghetti bolognese in dank apartments on sunlit streets

We walked through St Stephen’s Green watching ducks and tourists, each species intent on making the most of the sun and dappled shade. We meandered around the Georgian squares of the South talking about work and money and parents and offspring and even the offspring of our mutual friends, many of whom seem to have gained a level of financial and emotional protection that wasn’t necessarily available. to us. (We discovered a long time ago that we are the children of parents who struggled with repetitive tasks, like marriage and support.)

My friend ventured that our children are pretty much a bourgeois lot. I didn’t know if I agreed with him on that; it seemed like an off-key assessment. I certainly wouldn’t want to start over in Dublin now. I couldn’t imagine trying to make a creative life in this city of overpriced eggs and aesthetic clinics, big data and even bigger rents. There was a freedom for my generation, especially in my 20s, to live and grow in the capital. We were free to create work and friendships and mistakes and spaghetti bolognese in damp apartments on sunlit streets and squares like the ones we walked now, cast into shadow as the morning grew longer. There was privacy then, too, when you could only be reached by a public telephone at the bottom of a shabby staircase – or so I may romanticize; maybe my memory is worn out. Still, the cohort I hung out with in the 1980s had independence, which in my estimation is a greater privilege than any gift an anxious parent can now bestow.

My friend and I cut down an alley in an attempt to access the high street and stood back to look at a terrace of discreetly tucked away mews houses, sought-after pieds-a-terre which, at today’s property prices, probably house some pretty well-shod Thoroughbred.

As I splash around in the drained paddling pool of parenthood, I begin to remember another me, a young woman walking down Baggot Street who wouldn’t have recognized a gum shield if it bit her in the rear

I fantasize about moving downtown again, now that my kids are grown and the years of driving around suburban soccer fields and queuing at malls with book and uniform lists have passed and my calendar is clear of parent-teacher conferences and PE days. As I splash about in the drained paddling pool of parenthood, I begin to remember another me, a young woman walking down Baggot Street who wouldn’t have recognized a gum shield if it bit her in the rear.

How much do you think somewhere like that would set me back, I asked, imagining arranging my organic kumquats on those awfully nice window sills. My friend did not bother to dignify the question with an answer.

I don’t think our children are a bourgeois lot, but I do think many of them have been broken by their parents’ expectations. Whether these beliefs are born of a desire for our offspring to conform to the new societal standard – perfect teeth, perfect education, perfect careers, perfect marriages equipped with complicated coffee machines – or simply from a desire to give them lives safer than ours own, the outcome is, I think, about the same.

I kind of think, I said to my companion as we walked past the beautiful dollhouses, that I will never be able to afford it, that as parents of young adults we have to let go of all our expectations, everything. We have to let go of control, learn to walk away. The only gift worth giving is probably benign neglect.

We parted at the end of Grafton Street and agreed to meet again in the park in the autumn. Considering the price of our scrambled eggs and taking inflation into account, we’ll probably have to bring a sandwich and a flask in our pockets.

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