I am sure I’m not the only mother who has taken a sneaky bite or two from her children’s enormous cache of easter eggs. I used to do this after they were in bed; creeping into the kitchen to steal from the hoard, pausing and twitching my head from side to side at every creak of a floorboard, like an oversized squirrel going at a bird table. I am pleased to report that this year I have changed my ways. I no longer steal from my children. Instead I have introduced The Mother Tax.
I like taxes. I think they are a good thing. Tax provides us all with a safety net - ensuring we are protected, healthy and educated. I want my children to think taxation is a good thing too. These days when they are having a treat I will ask them to share a bit with me, because if I have a small amount of their treat it gives me the energy and motivation to play the games they want to play. I wanted to teach them that giving me a small amount of something nice now will reap positive dividends in the future. At first, it did not go well. I have learned that all children are essentially free market capitalists at heart. My children were positively Trump-ian the first time I pulled this trick. Hell, one of them even called me a nasty woman.
My children are lucky to live lives of ease and comfort - something they may strenuously deny when they are denied a final Danger Mouse before bed or I say no to yet more chocolate - but we are wildly, gloriously privileged. My husband and I both work hard to ensure that we have nice things, but I know it is not just our work that has created this lovely life. I drive to work on roads paved by our taxes (our trip to LA last year taught me just how important this is - American roads are terrible), our kids don’t get infections because our taxes clear the rubbish away every week. Our taxes paid for my education right up to the end of university. A large amount of our taxes helped to give my mother extra years of life thanks to the tireless interventions of our NHS. From home to work, from hospital to school, our taxes help us.
Therefore I have persevered with the mother tax in the face of vehement opposition. In return for a spoon of dessert, a lick of an ice cream or a chunk of chocolate I will put in the extra effort to play that game of Top Trumps or listen to the Trolls soundtrack for the zillionth time without screaming. Of course this means I actually have to be nice to them now, but I’ve discovered this tax thing works both ways; I am actually enjoying the Time Tax I have imposed on myself. Giving the kids that little bit of extra time has made things a bit more harmonious around the house. The kids are far less resistant to sharing their treats and I feel that little bit more involved in their interests. I think we are all learning the lesson that giving away a little bit of something you wanted to keep will actually make life more pleasant in general.
Tax. It’s not terrible.