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Brianna Parkins: I fantasise about moving back in with my parents

Home might not be quiet or relaxing or emotionally stable but it’s still where I sleep best

Sometimes, I think about moving back in with my parents. Thanks to the housing crisis, this is normal. Friends had returned to the warm, rent-free bosomy embrace of their family home to save for a house of their own and seemed to enjoy it. They talked of group Sunday afternoon walks and forming family pub quiz teams with cute names such as “Trivia Newton-John” and “Let’s Get Quizzical!”

I heard all about taking turns to cook and playing a pretend game of Come Dine with Me where the real winner was quality time and parental bonding. And no one got upset and yelled “Rigged!” while dredging up accusations of sibling favouritism. Parents respected privacy. It was all so grown up and civilised. Maybe things are different when you move home as an adult, after living away for a decade. Maybe things have changed from the “YOU’RE RUINING MY LIFE” household of your teens and you can live in harmony with your parents.

Then I hear the yell.


It’s my mother. She is not yelling at a toddler or a dog in a cupboard but rather at my dad, who is using the second toilet in the house he co-owns.

Then I wonder if I have inadvertently drunk bong water in my breakfast tea because in my moving-home fantasies I forgot who my actual family was.

I had to return to Sydney briefly this month for personal reasons at short notice. Luckily my parents welcomed me with open arms (they had no choice). Now I am back in the comfort of my childhood bedroom and have accepted I will never know peace again.

“What are you shouting about?” I shout across our house.

My mother explains that every morning, just after she has finished cleaning the back loo, my father uses it. He actually uses the toilet for its intended purpose. Freak.

“I tell you he smells bleach and it’s like some sort of laxative. Only after I’ve scrubbed it, then he has to go,” she says, with the same wired, wild-eyed passion as someone explaining how the moon landing was faked.

Dad makes Mum look relatively normal. You cannot eat anything around Dad without him commenting on how a particular food might affect your bowel movements

In fairness, she has a point. It is incredibly annoying to clean a bathroom only to hear the sound of beard clippers being fired up or the toilet spray getting a good workout two minutes later.

My suggested solution is to consider cleaning the toilet at a different time in the day, say the afternoon. But maybe I have drunk bong water after all, because this is irrational and impractical thinking. It’s a shame my mother didn’t become a warden because she runs our house when I’m home on an efficient prison-type schedule.

I am allowed a shower but only between the allotted times of 0700-0900 hours. I’m not sure why. But I suspect it has something to do with the belief that if the towels and bath mats are not hung out and dried completely by lunchtime, an awful fate will befall our family. Such as having damp, smelly towels.

Dad makes Mum look relatively normal. You cannot eat anything around Dad without him commenting on how a particular food might affect your bowel movements. “Here, have a date,” he’ll say as you reach into a bag of fruit before whipping out his favourite line – “They’ll keep you regular!” – just in time for you to get a mental picture of faeces as you chew on a little brown cylindrical treat. There are only two types of food groups in my dad’s view: food that will “keep you regular” (dates, prunes, bran, wholegrains) and food that will “block you up” (croissants, cheese, anything nice really).

When he’s not educating you against your will about dietary fibre, he also enjoys horse racing. He’s invested in the career of a horse named Parko – the same nickname he and every other member of the family go by. All of Parko’s upcoming races go in the calendar and he checks the results, including video playback, at the end of the day. I’m not sure if Parko the horse sits in his stables looking up Dad’s Parkrun results with equal vigour but I like to think he does.

Between yelling across the house about poos, my family likes to maintain their state of relaxation by having radios and televisions tuned to different stations blaring at full volume, at once.

Our house is small and lacks privacy, to the point where I can wear noise-cancelling headphones and still tell where my father is in the house, not from the noise of his footsteps but from the vibrations of the floorboards.

At night I can hear everyone breathing, including the house. At night it creaks as the floorboards and the door frames exhale the day’s heat. But there is no white noise machine more relaxing than the snoring of all the people you love most, safely asleep under one roof. It may not be quiet or relaxing or emotionally stable but that’s where I have the best night’s sleep, under the gentle whirring of an Aldi middle aisle ceiling fan.

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