She was referring to the trampoline which was squeaking away metronomically under the weight of four bouncing kids. Just shy of its second birthday, it had already well exceeded the outlay by way of a relaxation cost of around 10p per hour.
I had to agree as the £20 football goal I sourced from eBay in December for the little Ps has also already repaid itself in a most satisfying way, even if it is ripped to buggery now (they have yet to ask for a new one, and I'm prepared to wait). Open the door, kick 'em out with the £4 Tesco ball, and forget parental duties for a good hour or two (apart from the odd sideways glare when it hits too close to the French windows, natch).
Excepting the odd bickering frenzy or cry of pain due to accidental ball-in-the-face - hard - scenario, it's been bliss. Naturally loud, shouty, childhood running around is being done without any effort from your host or Mrs P whatsoever. There's even scope for occasionally sneaking off, should one wish, IYSWIM.
Watch their every move helicopter fashion in a constant state of fear? Do me a favour! Far too much effort, sorry.
Likewise, the trip to the shops.
"Can you take me to the Premier Mart as they have the latest Dr Who Monster Invasion magazine I want to buy"Yes, they're 11 and 10, but we've been brilliantly adept in the art of raising kids for quite a few years now. No, seriously, it's been statistically proven.
"Does it involve crossing the main road?"
"OK, be careful and use the traffic island ... and don't wake me up from my afternoon snooze again!"
Unlike 'proper' and 'responsible' parents, they eat and drink shit if they like, within reason, as long as they keep the hell away from us when the E numbers kick in - and they finish all of what they are given for dinner. Full stop. No arguments. It's amazing what you can get kids to consume when they are given free reign in just about every other aspect of their lives. No histrionics when faced with 'greens' in Puddlecote Towers, I can assure you. The girl loves a salad, the boy begs for liver ... before gorging on crisps and choccie for afters ... and running outside again. YES, even if it's raining!
On Sunday, when their heads began to glow from the heat after 6 hours of jumping up and down like Plastic Bertrand, we reluctantly put down our wine glasses and got them off the squeaky bounce machine ... to howls of protest!
They didn't half sleep well that night, though. Head-pillow-snore leading to, yes, more parental laziness.
We're can't-be-arsed, dreadfully irresponsible - according to some - parents, you see? And it works.
Wanna go to the park on your own? Sure, don't ever talk to strangers in the incredibly unlikely event that one tries to approach you*. Wanna pop up the road? You know the Green Cross Code, use it. Wanna drink but didn't say please? You'll just have to stay thirsty. Wanna molly-coddling Mum or Dad to bubble-wrap you? Sorry, kids, you've been born into the wrong household.
Lazy and 'irresponsible' works. Risk obsession, and parenting as a professional exercise in oneupmanship, is producing insipid preciouses with no sense of proportion, self-worth or maturity.
Lazy parenting should be promoted in government policy. With tax breaks, please.
* And if one does, scream loud as you can, swear profusely, and kick them in the nuts (or, to be non gender-prejudicial, lala)