I grew up in the 1960s, when my mother shouted, as I hopped out through the back door, Be home by six.
She might have added, I don't mind what you do, so long as you don't cross Mansfield Road, and you don't get into trouble.
I was probably aged eight or nine. I thought I was free. She knew half a dozen people would tell her later what I'd got up to.
Sometimes I slipped the net and walked both sides. I ran with kids who had piano practice at 4, and kids with cigarette burns dancing up their arms. I learned who Mozart was and which house you avoided, unless by age ten you could handle yourself in tricky situations: there lived the old couple who would give you money if you let them take a photo of you with your top off.
These days, my mother's I don't mind would be read as I don't care. My old mum would probably be labelled a neglectful and dysfunctional parent. She might be offered a parenting course or an intervention project based around family counselling.
But isn't it true that today's only the starting point for the future? Which is why this is such a fundamentally wrong idea. Because, six years from now, my mother's grand daughters could be summed up in a graded pass, their suitability as parents marked. Even before they have children.
When did it happen? That we got to this point when an exam in parenting seemed like a good idea?
What event in my life happened to make someone else think I'd trust in them, and not me? When did they assume that I'd look to schools to tell my kids how to parent? Do they think that parenting's beyond me? That I need someone else to tell me how? That only someone else can say what's best for my kids? And that I, the grower of knuckle and bone and blood and guts, am merely here to 'reinforce' the approved learning, delivered by my wall-hung TV screen?
It speaks loud and clear about the culture we're living in. When it's believed that I'll uncritically accept someone called an Expert or a Director or a Chief Executive and never question what they say. When someone thinks that I see the word Charity and immediately assume it must be an organisation bound to be transparent, good, and honourable. When someone believes my trust in myself and my community is so low I will surely look to the authority of an examining body with an assessment criteria to tell me how to improve.
Maybe my mum taught me a great deal of parenting wisdom. Maybe my raw sixties backstreet education came in for something. Because I'm not going to nod in agreement. I won't watch passive while my language, emotion, my parenting, is stripped away from me and layers of someone else's words are slapped over my life.
Sometimes, Parenting UK, there's a space for visceral, guttural language, and it's here. Fuck off.
In this world, where all our humanity is steadily subject to someone else's judgement and control, I am standing out as a graffiti parent.
Parenting looks like shit, and it's the most profound art you ever do. That's graffiti parenting.
I run counter culture, defy your judgment, do my own thing. I get it wrong, show myself up, rage and weep. I put it right, patch up, make amends, paint it over, strip it back, celebrate the raw, experiment again. I threaten, weep and laugh with joy. I tell my kids off and praise them, ignore them and help them, deal with them unjust and fair. I'm inconsistent, contradictory, permissive, authoritarian. I'm a crap parent and the best parent. I explore all states. I'll laugh at my aspirations and my fears before you can ever find them. Because this parenting, I own it.
To my children I pass it all on, mixed with messages of culture, society, politics, books, art, energy. And only they are qualified to tell me whether I got some things right.
It's our future. I reserve that space - graffiti parents - for my kids. Not yours, Parenting UK, mine. In time, I expect they'll make graffiti of their own lives in their own ways. I want them to pass that on, down the line, to my mother's great grand children. That system works for me. It may have been working one way and another like that for thousands of years.
So I'll tell my children this. Celebrate all of your parenting. The shit and the art. Never pass your own parenting lives over to someone paid to judge you. Never give up your own self knowledges and self doubts and self beliefs to a school teacher who'll score them with a tick sheet.
That person will disempower you for life and disengage you from your children not yet born, when they peer at you and say, You must try harder. Grade D.