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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I love you, now leave me alone.

I have been inspired today by West End Singleton, who writes about being clear about your intentions when getting into a relationship with someone.

It got me thinking, how many of life’s stresses ad upsets could have been entirely avoided, simply by being more honest and open with our communication?

We’re all guilty of it. We tell our spouses “Nothing’s wrong” when thats far from the truth, we answer “I’m fine” even when we’re not close to it. We put a moody face on, and hope someone guesses they’ve upset us without us having to spell it out. And then we get angry or disappointed when people cant read our oh so clever signals and magically apologize or change.

But why would they? If I dont tell a friend that I need some alone time, why wouldnt they keep texting and phoning? If I dont mention to my spouse that he’s upset me, how on earth can he know how to avoid the same mistake the next time? For the most part, no one is trying to upset anyone else. But we are not each other. We think and feel differently to anyone else on the planet, and thats what makes relationships so great.

I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.” Plutarch. I love this quote, and I think that we all want our relationships to to challenge us and differ from us in countless ways. Accepting that the people in our lives are not inside our heads, and might need to hear our thoughts once in a while, is not a failiure of the friendship or of you as an individual. On the contrary, its proof that you are close enough to talk honestly together, without being afraid of hurt feelings or miscommunication.

I know a couple who recently split up, after nearly 2 decades of marriage. They are currently giving it another go, despite much dissatisfaction between them. The guy has said that he has had issues with the relationship for over a decade, but hasnt wanted to ‘make a fuss.’ It’s almost laughable. He nearly lost the whole marriage because he didnt mention the niggles and problems ten or fifteen years previously. Of course the wife couldnt change her behaviour, (because why would she think to try to?) and probably felt that she coulnt mention anything negative to her {seemingly satisfied) hubby, and suddenly the carpet gets too full of ‘little things’ being brushed underneath it, and they’re having the kids on alternate weekends.

It’s shocking. It’s shocking how easily not talking becomes shouting.

There are always going to be no-go areas with the people in our lives, topics that are not discussed because they’re fruitless or where two people differ too greatly. But for the most part, with the right language, telling someone how you feel can never be a mistake, even and sometimes especially, where it’s difficult or doesnt have your ideal outcome.

Children tell us exactly what they want, when they want it. In no uncertain terms, kids hold nothing back. And at some point we are taught how to censor the words we use and the people we use them to, for social etiquette or self-preservation. But when are we taught to start hiding, especially from those that we love?