The constant recurring theme in our respective dealings with our parents is: Mark’s treat us with respect and as adults, while mine regularly treat us like kids who needs to be lectured. Sometimes I am very envious of Mark for the connection he has with his parents.

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There is a saying in Sweden that the “exception proves the rule”. I think it exists in English too, but it is far more well-known in Swedish, and you’re likely to come across it more often in general conversations. It is actually a principle derived from republican Rome, as Cicero put it “exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis” in his defence of Lucius Cornelius Balbus.

What it means is that you can find that there is a rule, hidden or not, by looking at its exception. Like, a sign in a street saying that “Parking is prohibited on Sundays” confirms that there is a rule is that say “parking is allowed here every day, except on Sundays”.

Therefore, when Mark has a conflict with his parents, such as now, that exception illustrates how good a relation he normally has with them. And it brings back the comparison to the distant and unequal relationship I have with mine.

I have a better relationship with my mum than I have with my dad. But even with mum, there’s little doubt that she still sees me as a kid who needs firm guidance at times and not as an independent agent with a will of my own.

I won’t go into detail about why Mark is annoyed with his parents, because that’s not for me to say, but as it affects me by having to listen to his complaints about it, all I can do is compare, and feel that jealousy, and wish that I and my parents had it like he has.

Not that I’m really complaining, because there’s nothing I can do about it, except indulge in useless wishful thinking. It is how it is, and our relationship is not abusive, and I suppose that in their own particular way, my parents do enjoy having me in their lives. If for no other reason than that they can feel superior to someone.

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