Illustration: Simon Letch
Tomorrow, on Mother's Day, the mothers of Australia will be showered with presents - but do they deserve it?
There's a good argument that Australia's mothers are not as nice as they seem. Here's a list of all the things that mothers say to their children - and what they really mean. It's a guide to what you could call ''the mother tongue''.
❏ ''Too much cake will rot your teeth.'' I was rather hoping to eat the rest of that cake myself.
❏ ''Mummy and daddy are going to have an afternoon rest.'' Mummy and daddy are going to attempt to have sex for the first time since, let me count, about 1947.
❏ ''It really is bedtime.''Game of Thrones is about to start and I have a bottle of wine chilling in the freezer.
❏ ''Go and play in the lovely sunshine.'' Five more minutes in your company and I'll be arrested for murder.
❏ ''If you eat your greens you will be big and strong.'' If you don't eat your greens, you'll eat biscuits instead and suffer a hyperactivity meltdown about 8.25pm, when I can least endure it.
❏ ''Daddy is just having a little rest.'' Daddy is passed out, pissed, on the nature strip.
❏ ''And that's the end of the lovely picture book!'' Funny how quickly it goes when you surreptitiously turn over five pages at a time.
❏ ''You look such a big boy in that jacket.'' It's a-hand-me-down from a 13-year-old cousin, which is why it's trailing the ground like a wizard's gown.
❏ ''Lots of big boys wear pink.'' It's a-hand-me-down from your five-year-old sister and even she found it effeminate.
❏ ''It's fun to have your hair cut by your mother.'' With the $23 I save I can buy gin.
❏ ''Once you're asleep you'll have lovely sweet dreams.'' Once you're asleep mummy and daddy are breaking open the Sara Lee chocolate Bavarian.
❏ ''We're nearly home.'' Daddy is lost.
❏ ''We're going to have a special adventure and all sleep in the car.'' Daddy forgot to book somewhere to stay.
❏ ''Daddy is just going on a little walk to the next town.'' Daddy forgot to fill the petrol tank.
❏ ''It was amazing when you kicked the soccer ball right past the goalie.'' Next time, try kicking it into the other team's goal. You may find it somewhat more difficult.
❏ ''Next time we come, we can spend as long as you like saying hello to the monkeys and the seals.'' We're never coming to Taronga Zoo again, not after the blood transfusion your father required once he'd seen the prices.
❏ ''The Mr. Whippy man is playing Greensleeves, which means he's run out of ice-cream.'' If you believe that, you'll believe anything.
❏ ''There's a rule at Woolworths and you are only allowed one packet of biscuits.'' If you believe that, you'll believe anything.
❏ ''But mummy and daddy can't afford to buy a whole bottle of fizzy drink.'' Have you seen the price of gin at Liquorland?
❏ ''You'll get a better sound from your violin if you practise in the garage.'' With the stereo turned up really high I may be able to avoid the hideous sound.
❏ ''Don't be silly, the dentist doesn't hurt.'' He hasn't hurt mummy or daddy, since we've assiduously avoided check-ups for the past 20 years.
❏ ''You look tired.'' I feel tired.
❏ ''You've too much on to have Sam over to play.'' Sam is a bad seed who will tempt you onto a path of misbehaviour and evil resulting in you both becoming heroin addicts and convicted thieves by the time you are 13.
❏ ''I think Sam is busy anyway.'' That child is not entering this home unless I'm armed with plastic sheeting and a gun.
❏ ''Look, I'm dialling Sam's house now and there's no answer.'' The Taxis Combined voice-recognition service is becoming quite confused as to what I'm saying.
❏ ''What do you mean you've rung Sam's mother on my mobile and they are on their way over?'' Tell you what, it better be a damn good present come Mother's Day.
❏ ''What a lovely surprise - chocolates for Mother's Day.'' Actually not that much of a surprise since I pre-ordered them at the chocolate shop, gave your father the money and waited in the car while he picked them up.
❏ And, drum roll, ''This is the last time I'll say this.''Over the next 15 years I'm going to say this another 4.3 million times.
Happy Mother's Day.