About this time of year, you can – if you listen carefully – hear the sound of desperate keening from the newsrooms up and down the country. ‘Everyone is on holiday!’ the journalists weep. ‘Nothing has happened for days and days!’ One new girl in the corner might pipe up, ‘Hold on I think Heather Mills-McCartney has had her phone hacked!’ but she is soon silenced by a vast wave of indifference.
Then a seasoned reporter, wearing a trilby and a trench coat and one of those green visors, suddenly shouts “I’ve got it! Let’s go on Mumsnet and see what the women are fighting about! People love to read about mothers scrapping. It’s, like, their favourite thing. But let’s make it look respectable by giving the scrapping mothers an ACRONYM and pretending the fighting is a CULTURAL TREND so we can JUDGE THEM and pretend it’s social commentary.’
And so it comes to pass, that those of us who haven’t managed to escape the August doldrums for Provence get to – hurray! – point and get all sniffy about the MOTHERS, but this time with a nice catchy label. The acronym de jour is ‘SMOG’, which stands for Smug Mother of Girls, a term possibly invented and certainly popularised on that wonderful nest-of-vipers, the internet forum Mumsnet*.
The acronym has a long journalistic history, possibly starting with the YUPPIE, the Young Upwardly Mobile person who, er, liked PIES I guess? (I’ve never really thought about the PIE bit, I may have that wrong.)
Now I am certainly a MOG, but am I a SMOG? Well, the Daily Mail says I am, so that’s pretty much game set and match. The Telegraph says, with killing irony, that I should GROW UP and start worrying about something more important like, and I quote, ‘the battle of the sexes’, ignoring for a moment that the only people really worrying about whether boys are better than girls are (1) 5 year olds and (2) bored journalists in August.
So what do SMOGs have to be SMUG about? Well the cultural norm is that girls are pretty and dainty and quiet and clean and boys are stinky and noisy and violent. Now leaving aside for a moment all that stuff about gender being a social construct, even the most desperate journalist (aren’t they all?) would have to admit that this is something of a generalisation. If they don’t admit this straight away, then they should come and meet Gothicdaughter, who once woke me up early in the morning to ask if she could dig up the body of her long-dead rabbit so she could have his skull ‘for a souvenir… I WILL wash it first!’
Although I only have daughters (and no brothers), I do have SOME** nephews and many of my friends have sons. So, when I observe their behaviour, am I SMUG? Well, I wouldn’t go that far, perhaps, but I might admit to a tiny bit of relief, that I don’t have to deal with some aspects of boy behaviour, for example:
MAKING SOMETHING YOUR WILLY – a phenomenon I only recently encountered, this involves prancing around holding an object in front of you, say a stick or a ruler or a long spoon, and pretending it’s your willy. According to my MOB friends, this is something that happens pretty much hourly in the world of boys, which means that this has been going on in front of me for all my life AND I HAD NO IDEA until a few weeks ago. (NB in this instance ignorance really was bliss.)
AL FRESCO URINATION – yes yes I know it’s a clever bit of design and all that but NOT AGAINST MY AZALEAS THANKS VERY MUCH.
TACTICAL VOMITING AT PARTIES – large amount of cake and lemonade consumed, vigorous bouncing, slightly green around gills, quick chuck up in the flower beds, then straight back on the bouncy castle. Mmmmmm. Nice.
THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE – all little boys, without exception, love Thomas the Tank Engine. If ever you need a justification for feminism, this is surely it, because this shows a massive collective lack of judgment. The much-loved stories of the Rev Awdrey are absolute tripe – badly written and clunkily moralistic. And I am not just saying that because my nephews used to make me play the part of the Fat Controller. EVERY SINGLE TIME.
NEVER FLUSHING THE LOO. EVER. Ohhhhhhh Goddddddddd.
So yes, on balance, I wouldn’t swap the high-pitched girlish squealing of the Number6 household for one with a BOY in it. Sorry, got to go and play Barbie tea parties for the 354th time today. Now, where is that canister of Gas and Air?
*a truly amazing place, a seething, schizoid mixture of vicious gladiatorial-style combat and cupcake recipes.
**I have no idea how many nephews I have. More than I can count on my fingers. Surely, by the law of averages, one of my nephews has stopped playing Call of Duty for long enough to read this – could you count please? TIA.