Cardinal Parenting Sins (and our dirty little secret).

Before I became a mother, like the rest of the childless world, I found certain behaviours by parents seriously annoying. I rolled my eyes, complained to other non-married’s, laughed at them behind their backs, and generally tried to ignore certain situations as best as I could. Don’t they know how irritating they are? I would wonder often.

Now that I have my own son, I see where I was confused. The big unspoken about secret is, there are just some ‘parent’ activities which we know no-one else finds interesting or amusing, even when they have kids of their own, and yet we just kind of… do them anyway.

Putting our babies ‘on the phone.’

If they are in fact a baby, they cant speak. We know that. We know that the best case scenario is that the caller might hear a slight gurgle or a coo, which we will then interpret as “well done! you said hello to grandma you clever thing!” Meanwhile, the caller probably had an actual reason for calling rather than to listen to absolute silence. If the child in question is a toddler, it is probably slightly better, but still, as a mother of a 2 year old, I know that even I have trouble understanding him face to face most of the time, let alone on the phone to someone else. And yet somehow, I find myself passing the phone to my son to have a ‘chat’ more often than not. At least I have the decency to use speaker-phone so the caller can at least cut short the fascinating interchange when they stop feeling polite.

Sharing identical photos.

This is Sammy on the swing. And now Sammy next to the swing. And OH, look at this, he’s trying to climb back into the swing, isn’t that adorable?
No, probably not. But we can definitely see a difference between baby aged 2 weeks sleeping with her eyes shut, and baby aged 3 and a half weeks sleeping with her eyes shut.

Loud kid shows.

You’re in Starbucks, not your living room. The rest of the world doesn’t want to hear what Peppa and George are up to, let alone your own child mimicking the lines back verbatim. We appreciate that your kid isn’t running wild underneath our table and knocking hot drinks into our laps, but seriously-if they cant sit quietly without a noisy smart phone, why are they in this restaurant in the first place? I can now answer this one. I also used to be of the opinion that there was a child-friendly age for adult haunts, and a distinctly un-friendly age, which is where all such outings should cease immediately. I probably even wrote a blog to that effect about a year ago. But hey, we must all admit we are wrong sometimes, and I am willingly eating humble pie on this one. While I still think it’s appalling when toddlers run riot around ANY adult serving place, (kid-friendly or otherwise) I also now know the mutant-human I become if I am not allowed the minimum amount of adult conversation on a weekly basis that doesn’t take place around strangers’ evil kids or whispered during a baby music class. If this means that someone has to sit a couple tables further away so they aren’t distracted by Fireman Sam…? So be it. Just be grateful I’ve given him the show to watch in the first place. And that you get to go home and leave it behind.

Stories involving bodily functions.

No. Stop it. All of you. Even your spouse probably doesn’t want to hear about this, but at least they are forced genetically to be involved and somewhat interested in matters pertaining to your offspring. At an absolute stretch, best friends who are also parents can be involved. Woman sitting near you at soft play? Absolutely not. This one I am not guilty of. As a general rule, if you need to start the sentence by saying “Sorry if this is TMI…” it probably is.

You don’t mind if he….?

Presses the lift button/ the pedestrian crossing light/ the self service tills, etc etc.
No, not at all. If he can do it as quickly as I would do it myself. Do I want to wait by the side of the road for the longest 15 seconds of my life while he stands up on tip-toes for almost long enough each time to reach the damn button? I could be across by now. (Not to mention the dirty look I get for not waiting for the green man in front of impressionable children if I dare to dart over the crossing while your child is messing about.)
Even as a parent myself, I doubt I could stand patiently sharing the same lift space as a child who has been ‘allowed’ to press number 4, and has actually pressed all the numbers from zero, making our journey pointlessly and frustratingly longer.
And I hold a special place on my list for something I will never be guilty of. Parents who let children scan items on self-service checkouts. Lets be honest, most adults cant use those efficiently, so why are you delegating the task over to a ball of dribble while I stand here waiting to use the till?
Having said all this…. Even while I remember the angry feelings I had pre=parenthood, I do think it’s adorable to let R press the lift/crossing buttons, and I do kind of ignore pained smiles from other people in the vicinity when I do so.

So don’t worry folks, next time you see one of us committing one of these (or many many other) cardinal parenting sins, just remember: We are not oblivious. We know we are alternately boring you half to death or driving you up the wall. We’re just doing it anyway.

Hope that helps. 😉

happy meal

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The Bed-time Tango.

Moving your child to a bed is a big decision. Some parents are forced into it by their offspring deciding to become trapeze artists over night, clambering over cot sides and springing onto the floor in one graceful swoop. When not so graceful, these midnight escapades can end in tears, with bumped heads and carpet burns aplenty.

I wasn’t one of these mums. My son never tried to, let alone succeeded in escaping the prison bars of his cot. So you might ask why I decided to move him to a bed at all.

I’ve always been an advocate in not ‘baby-ing’ your baby, and I don’t make much of a secret of the fact I hate seeing 3 year olds with bottles and dummies, or in high chairs and cots. Add into that, the fact that my 2 year old is far too big for a travel cot, meaning we are stuck in our home until he can sleep on a mattress, and the striving for maturity that he seems to be going through lately in every way other than speech, I thought the time had come to move him. As he is starting nursery in three weeks, I wanted him to be settled into the bed by then, so decided to bite the bullet last week.

First the good news: It looks adorable. I was not prepared for the metamorphosis his cot would go through in order to become a bed. In fact, we thought it was just a case of taking off the sides. That’s why we started the process at 6.40pm. Once the cot sides were off, it didn’t exactly look right, so we cleverly decided the next stage would be to find the instruction manual. Turning to the right page, C read out step number one. “Completely dismantle the cot.”

Oh.

An hour and a half (and a lot of peppa pig) later, a very tired boy was put into his bed, thrilled and yawning.

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The bad news: It hasn’t exactly helped his (or my) sleep. When he isn’t coming into our bedroom at 4.30 in the morning with his buggy and baby from the playroom in tow, shouting “Maaa..?” I am lying awake in bed anyway wondering whether it was the right decision to forgo a bed guard, because apparently C fell out of his bed countless times in his childhood and it ‘never did him any harm’  ….

This craziness on my part means that every hour or so, I pause in listening out for potential ‘falling’ noises, and I tiptoe into his room to see what position he’s in. moving his limbs out of precarious ‘will he wont he?’ positions. Cue night vision camera and a lot of crossing fingers that the flash doesn’t wake him. And when the latter doesn’t work, a lot of running away cursing.

The horizontal sleeper.

Although not worrisome  as probably the least likely position to fall out of bed in, (unless he is going to land standing up) this is a bit of a puzzler. How did he get into this position to begin with? I can only imagine it was managed with incremental shuffling further and further clockwise. Even then, the geometry doesn’t seem quite right.

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The now you see me… 

So glad we had the bright idea to pad out the ‘gap’ with boxes, because right now that appears to be the only thing stopping my son from being wedged into the teeny space between bed and wall. Next thing to be nervous about, that he will inadvertently kick or headbutt the wall, resulting in an avalanche of those (only mostly) soft toys. Wonder whether I will recognise the thump of photo frame hitting toddler?

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The furtive play
Coming out of my own room at various times of the evening, to be greeted by the following, fills me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, “R, it is the middle of the night and you should be in bed, not secretly playing with your Vtech laptop in the hallway.” On the other hand, “R, well done for not disturbing us, and could you please learn to entertain yourself so effectively without my help during daylight hours?”

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The where’s my cup? I want my dri-… Zzzz…
It’s not just babies that fall out of beds. Objects are also suddenly not where we left them due to these cunning contraptions. This clever position shows that he obviously knew where the likely hiding place for his cup was… if only he could summon up the strength to stay awake for another…few… millimetres. So close.

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The cosy I love my bed

Seeing my tiny newborn all grown up and in a big boys bed, is definitely one for the baby journal. Tucked in properly, lying on his pillow, out for the count to the rest of the world, he looks so peaceful. Would it be so terrible if I just had the quickest of cuddles?

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Dear Dad…

I’m so sad tonight. I wish I could pick up the phone and call you up and tell you how I’m feeling and let all my frustrations out. You would probably listen awkwardly because I’m a woman and I’d be crying, and then you would tell me a story that hardly seems related, but somehow makes me feel better anyway. I would put down the phone feeling all cried out in the way you normally can only be when you’re by yourself, but in a good way, instead of this lonely aching feeling that I’m left with right now.

You never met R, so I don’t know how you would deal with his visual impairment or his and our frustration at his speech delays. For all I know, when it comes to his medical history, you would be just as unhelpful as my remaining parent, not knowing what to say or do to help, or how to be supportive in the way we need. But I do know for certain one thing, when it comes to his everyday life, you would be here.

You would take me to appointments when I needed the company, you would be phoning off the hook every day to see how we both are, you would hug me when the terrible two’s were driving me mad, or there wasn’t anything helpful left to say. I can’t imagine a day going by where you wouldn’t want to see us both, to hold your grandson, to sit with your daughter, and just while away the time with us both.

You would probably tell me that it’s her depression and the years of being alone, but you’ll have to excuse me for insisting that it is still not normal for a parent to not want to see their grandchildren. After almost three weeks of no contact, it is not normal for a parent to have to be bullied into spending some time with their daughter and grandchild. And yet that’s what happened today. And I don’t know why I bothered. After an hour and a half of sitting on my couch watching him while I played with him, a large portion of that spent with her eyes closed, she left. My mother hadn’t hugged him, kissed him, read to him, or even touched him. She hadn’t even moved from her spot on the couch to go down to his level and join a game.

It’s true- I might imagine you being here through the tragically rose coloured glasses of knowing you never will be again. But it’s not the fact that you’re gone that tells me you would hardly let R go if you had the chance, it’s just fact. Because somehow, with one parent who told me she had to ‘learn’ to hug me when I needed it, I still grew up affectionate and loving to my friends and family. Even though I’ve been told that I’m loved the least out of her children, I’ve somehow got a sense of self-worth and belief. And I didn’t give myself those things, you did.

So I know, with the certainty of really knowing a person, the way I’m coming to believe I never will know my own mother, that you would be cuddling and playing and singing with my little boy every chance you could get your hands on. You would call, probably too much, to find out how we are and to tell us you care. It wouldn’t be a chore, or something you needed to be reminded to do or argued into.

I don’t worry about R, the way I sometimes worry about myself. He has two parents that know how to make him feel loved and special. Thank God, he doesn’t need you in his life to make him feel supported and worth something.

Sadly however, I sometimes think that I still do.