The Usual Suspects… of the Mums Forum

Parenting is probably the most judgmental field around. The idea of being a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ mum, although frowned upon, is in every new parents mind, and whether we have one newborn baby, or seven kids aged 0-20, we all have our opinions. In person, we try and limit what we brag about, moan about, and definitely how much we judge other parents. Online however? No such qualms exist. The Internet is absolutely full of mums who just cant wait to have their say, as if there aren’t literally thousands of women reading what you’re writing and invariably mouthing expletives at their screen in frustration at your idiocy.

I give you, The Usual Suspects.

Mum who doesn’t know how good she has it
This mum is like nails on a chalkboard to most parents, new or otherwise. She has a really good baby, a really easy time of it, and yet insists she is doing terribly. Yes, it’s all relative, and we all have our hard days, but worries like “No matter what I do, my daughter wont sit in her bouncy chair for longer than 45 minutes” or “My baby is 9 days old and never sleeps for longer than four hours at a time” are going to get you slapped.
Ditto with parents who complain about how difficult taking their kids on long haul flights multiple times a year is. Oh, I’m so sorry you’re going on holiday… Again.

My unhelpful answer: I hope God sends you twins next time. 

Panicky Mum
Can I give my 1yo raisins? Can I put any sunscreen on my daughter? What kind of towels are best for my baby’s skin? Should I wake my twins up, they’ve been sleeping for four hours? Can I eat chocolate while I’m breastfeeding? My baby ate 4ox and normally eats 4.5oz, what should I do?

My unhelpful answer: Do whatever you want. it doesn’t matter. And take some Prozac. 

Negligent Mum
My son has had this rash for three days. It started like this… -shows photo- and this morning I woke up and it’s like this. -shows additional photo- Has anyone experienced anything like this before?

My unhelpful answer: YES. Doctors have. I guarantee they’ve seen lots of rashes. You might even say it’s their JOB. The next one of these I see is getting a visit from social services you awful awful parent. 

By the Book Mum
This mother is generally a first time mum, although not always, and has been fooled by books and faux friends into thinking her baby is able to be programmed according to a schedule laid out kindly for her in pre-read literature. She is puzzled as to why at the six week mark, her newborn didn’t immediately start sleeping through the night. Why at six months, her son doesn’t love pureed cauliflower and lentil mush, made exactly how it was outlined on page 28.  Why after exactly two hours of playtime, her baby doesn’t seem sleepy.

“My baby is 6 weeks old, and doesn’t seem to be able to sleep through the night. He generally sleeps 4 hours, and then 3 hours, and then anywhere from 3 hours to 6 hours. I’m so tired, and if I try not feeding him, he just screams! How can I routine him?”

My unhelpful answer: Babies cry. Newborns need feeding often. Routine is not a verb. 

Fake Bragger
Disguised as a question, but really a blatant showing off fest, they normally start like this. 
“Is it normal that my 2 month old is making loads of noises already? This morning I swear she said mama! What’s that about?”
“I’m just wondering if it’s okay that my 7 month old took his first steps today… like is it safe for his ankles as he’s soooo teeny?”
“Has anyone experienced a week old baby sleeping for eight hours? My baby has done it two nights in a row now, and is putting on weight really well, and the midwife said it’s fine, but do you think I should be concerned at all?”

My unhelpful answer:  Shut up. NO ONE CARES. 

Negative poster
This one might in fact be my Mother in law. To every question, and every response, she basically answers “That’s really dangerous.” Sounds easy at first, but it’s actually a challenge finding negative answers to some posts. 

  • Baby in his own room? Nope, death by neglect.
  • Baby in my room? No way, attachment issues.
  • Which formula? You should be breastfeeding.
  • Should I stop BF now? Yes, do you have separation issues?
  • Can my kid have crisps? No, she’ll become obese.
  • Should I give her carrots? No-she’ll choke. 
  • Experience with trampolines? Broken bones. 
  • Experience with bikes? Car accidents. 
  • Experience with cuddly toys? Suffocation.

My unhelpful answer: I’m surprised you were brave enough to turn on the computer. Especially Facebook, don’t you know, someone is hacking into your account and identity thieving you RIGHT NOW.

The Seller
Not interested in giving or receiving advice, this lady truly subscribes to the idiom of one woman’s rubbish is another’s treasure. Except it generally isn’t. “For sale, 24 bottles and teats.” “10 cloth nappies, nearly new.”  What?! How can you think anyone wants those? More annoying still, “for sale, various toddler toys, all need a good clean but in good condition.” So clean them! Surely that would make it a more desirable sale?

My general rule: If a charity shop wont take it, we probably don’t want to spend a tenner and drive to Frogmore for it either. 

Noticed any other Usual Suspects to add to my list?

Parental Control(s)

We live in an amazing time. We have never had a world so small, or access to as much of it as we do in this generation. Unlike our great-grandparents, our children have equal opportunities and a chance to be children for longer. Unlike our grandparents, we will be blessed with countless photos and videos of our children for posterity and reminiscing. Unlike our parents, we have access to a wealth of information and support from around the globe.

But what is this doing to family values?

Fifty years ago, our parents and grandparents had questions about raising their newborn or toddler. Of course they did, we all do. For all parents, there are parts of parenthood which are like foreign countries, needing to be navigated cautiously and with plenty of advice. Generations before us had one simple line of enquiry; their own parents. Who better to ask about raising a child, than the people who raised you? As long as you didn’t have any huge culture or life-choice differences, they were bound to have an easy answer to your query. This helped mothers and daughters bond, helped grandparents feel like they were being included with their grandchildren, and made for a happy family dynamic.

But now, we have been given the super-tool which is the World Wide Web. And suddenly our own parents cant compete with the hundreds of online doctors, the thousands of baby forums, the millions of other mothers with their own two cents to throw in the pot. And to make things worse, for most of us, our parents arent anywhere near as adept at using this technological encyclopedia.

I know this doesnt count for everyone, but for a large part of the older generation, we are lucky if they can send a few emails here and there, or look up the odd opening time of a favourite shopping centre. Research and socialising are pretty far from our parents minds a lot of the time.

So while we know that cot death has halved since parents started putting babies to sleep on their backs, we still have to listen to great aunt Sophie maintaining loudly that all seventeen of her offspring slept on their tummies for 18 years and it never did them any harm. Although we are listening to medical studies which suggest we offer certain foods later than others to avoid allergies, it’s not so easy to ignore the grandparent who offers peanut m&ms as a ‘treat.’

There is a divide. And in a way which the world hasnt ever really faced before. We know with certainty that our parents are wrong, or badly informed, and yet there isnt really a polite or easy way to say so. To make things even weirder, our generation is really the only one which will be faced with this problem. When my son goes online in 2032 and tells me that the latest word from the doctors is that babies should be hanging upside down by their ankles, I will say “Ooh how interesting”, google it, and probably share it on whatever social media platform I’m using. Not that he wont have other advances which I am not adept with, (Like what on earth is foursquare?) but information will still be as accessible to me as it is now.

I know that I am being somewhat unfair to people over 50 who are computer-whizzes and have usernames for every chatroom in a appropriate time-zone, so let me be clearer. It isnt that our parents cant understand the idea of finding out facts and answers on the internet. It’s that nowadays, especially when faced with the realities of being a stay at home or part time working mother, the internet is more than just information. It’s a community, and for many- a lifeline. The friends that mums make online, the readers of their blogs, the people they share advice with from across the globe; they become family. And not that they can take the place of our parents, because of course they cant, but they are family who are going through the exact thing that we are, at the same time, and who we can interact with in a matter of seconds. The generation before us cant really understand that, because they were never young parents going through it themselves.

And so I see time and time again, questions in chatrooms which start with “My mum thinks I should….” and end with “what should I tell her?” and I think it’s pretty sad. To some extent, there isn tthat much we can do about it. But like most things, it can definitely be helped by communication. All your parents want is to be helpful and involved. If they are a reasonable person, print out an article or two and let them know you found it interesting and it had a lot of info you didn’t know, so perhaps they didn’t either. Agree with them on a few points that don’t really matter long term. If all else fails, smile and nod and then do whatever you wanted to do in the first place.

Of course, if they are not a reasonable person, you pretty much have to live with it. I tell you what, add me on Twitter (@LiterallyAdvice) and we can have a chat about it.

 

Brick-Gate

I normally shy away from gossipy news stories, but the Samantha Brick palaver has actually got me quite drawn in today. For those of you who’ve been hiding under a rock, (or scrubbing your surfaces) for the past 24 hours, Samantha Brick, a usually moderately interesting journalist and presenter, has gone viral. She wrote a piece for the Daily Mail yesterday which bemoaned the terrible fate of being so unbearably attractive that all women hate her and all men lust after her.

Oh dear. It’s a shame the column wasnt wide enough for her to fit in a sentence or two about the abysmal reality of having a large villa in France, being happily married or being frequently published in national newspapers and magazines. Then we could feel really sorry for her.

There’s been an interesting (if uneven) split in terms of responses. Most people seem to agree that she is a first class idiot for writing the article in the first place, and pretty arrogant to think that even if the words were true, anyone cares about the sentiment behind it. However, there are quite a few voices piping up on the internet and beyond, who are applauding Samantha Brick for her confidence and self esteem. Isnt this what all women desire to feel? they argue, Don’t we all want to think we’re the most beautiful woman in the world?

Personally, after some help from google images, I think she is pretty deluded, which of course doesnt matter in her own home with the privacy of her own bathroom mirror, but can certainly explain the backlash she has recieved by making her opinions so obscenely public.She describes how she frequently recives free gifts and drinks all over the world, and says “Whenever I’ve asked what I’ve done to deserve such treatment, the donors of these gifts have always said the same thing: my pleasing appearance and pretty smile made their day“. Come on, surely you didnt expect people not to call you arrogant?

But more importantly than her larger than life head, is the way she describes the relationships between females. Below are a few quotes from the article.

Women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks

Over the years I’ve been dropped by countless friends who felt threatened if I was merely in the presence of their other halves

Unfortunately women find nothing more annoying than someone else being the most attractive girl in a room.

I Find that older women are the most hostile to beautiful women — perhaps because they feel their own bloom fading.

Once i finished laughing at the absurdity of these sentences, I realised how sad this is. This is a woman who obviously feels she has few if any female relationships, and has attributed it all to appearance and her perception of jealousy. Now I can only speak for myself, but if I think objectively about the female friends in my life, I can count many who I would say are more attractive than me. In absolutely no way does that relate to how close I feel to them, and to be honest, it isnt really something I think about too much. Most of us in this world are not supermodels or movie stars. Most of us, Samantha Brick included, are entirely average looking. Some days we make a little more effort, find a flattering outfit or the right shade of lipstick, and we might look a little better than we did. After a night on the town or a busy week, we become slightly more camera shy.
Samantha has basically put such emphasis on our appearance, put everything in her life down to the way she looks, and thereby absolved herself entirely of any responsibility to make her friendships work. She couldnt do anything about it, they were jealous of her. That friend has dropped her, it must be because the husband was attracted to her. Come on. Couldnt it possible be about your personality? Mightn’t you have done something that hurt their feelings? Could you both just not have made the effort, and so the friendship dwindled?

In my opinion, this kind of woman bashing, supposing that all females out there are afraid their husband is going to run off with the first blonde woman who walks through the door, or that no woman can bear to see anyone looking prettier than them walking down the street, is at best naive, and at worst, as sexist and shallow as her personal gripe is in the first place.

I think what has caused the hilarious and absurd backlash towards her, is that everyone knows the great thing about life and relationships is that attraction is subjective. There appears to be someone for everyone. We find it hard to believe that everywhere she goes, men find her beauty impossible to resist, because I’ve heard people say they could take or leave Jennifer Lopez. So to read Samantha’s cry of “Now I’m 41 and probably one of very few women entering her fifth decade welcoming the decline of my looks. I can’t wait for the wrinkles and the grey hair that will help me blend into the background” is a little hard to take. I’m sorry to tell you this, but no one knows who you are love. Except for those out there on Twitter suggesting the B in your surname is replaced with a P.

At least she’s learned her lesson though and is keeping her mouth shut from here on. In her response to the public outburst today, she just thought she would let us know, “While I was tearfully dealing with the emails and calls outside the supermarket, a young man approached me, offered to park my car and even get me a coffee.”

Spam

I’ve been drafting this post for a while, and adding to it when I can. I hope this wont only be entertaining to other WordPress users, but as I’ve developed a bit of a following *blush* I don’t mind just this once deviating from my universally relevant themes.

But just by way of explanation for those that dont blog, the comments feature on WordPress is extremely interesting. It is split into 3 parts. Comments, where people you dont know, or your friends, can add witty or interesting anecdotes to your posts, which sit there waiting for you to approve them and then get posted to the main page. Trash, where you can delete any posts you might not want up there, hate mail for example, which I would love to get, then I know I’ve made it. And finally, Spam.

Spam is truly one of the most brilliant things I have ever seen. The WordPress filter ensures that the posts never end up in the comments part, so you have to actively go to spam to look for them, but it is SO worth it.

Spam is made by computers. The intention is that by posting something to your blog, you will unwittingly lead readers to their advertising site through the link on your page. Sometimes through interest, other times through flattery, or insightful comment, Spam has to be pretty clever, using all its wily tricks so that you dont see through it and send the post straight to Trash.

[NB: Each one of these examples is copied and pasted directly from my comments tray, not edited or adapted at all.]

Here’s one such example:

This is the first time I comment on your site, but I’ve been reading your posts for about a few weeks. I admire the passion with which you tell your stories and dream that someday I can do the same. Love

Kind of sound like a foreign exchange student that’s trying too hard? Yep, that’s Spam all right! It kind of makes you want to let it through anyway, cause if you’re reading quickly, you might think it’s a genuine compliment by someone literarily challenged. Unlike the next one, which is never going to work. Stopping mid-sentence, losing your adverbs, and the casual “btw” thrown in to make you sound more human. Sorry Spam, you’ve been busted.

hi I was luck to look for your theme in yahoo, your Topics is impressive, I learn a lot in your Topics really thanks very much, btw the theme of you blog is really wonderful, where can find it

Some Spam posts are slightly cleverer. Stay short, stay to the point. Then you wont get tripped up by google translate or whatever other do-gooding detector robots you meet on your travels. The next one proves my point. It starts well, only one grammatical error, which surely we are all guilty of from time to time..

Great blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Cool….

Angel Wash…

Gosh darn it, You probably shouldnt have signed it. You’ve sort of given yourself away there.

Another type of Spam that pops up pretty often, is SMS. Not Spam via text message, no no. This is Subliminal Messaging Spam. Take the example below, and see if you have the skills to spot the advertisement hidden amongst the compliment.

hi i found your website today and I have read some good information over here. I just wanna thanks you for publicing Gratis Sex Dating it so we all can learn about it!

I think the next one might be my favourite. Realising that the advertising bot isnt going to get anywhere by complimenting me, it turns to insults to see if I’m that kind of masochistic blogger who just needs to maintain her low self confidence. Word for word, this is what I found in my comments box.

This is pointless, why am I even reading it and not enjoying verdens beste gulrotkake? I should learn to spend my time better.

Why would I post that to my blog? Even if I thought it was a real comment? Clearly written by the kind of guy who thinks he’s going to get a girl back to his place by telling her she looks fat.

And then you just have the bizarre.

If Jesus Christ lived in the here and now, he’d probably be able to pick up any chick he wanted, or so you would think.

At least with Pop ups, we cannot help but have them appear on our screens if we want more useful internet content. This scheme doesnt get past a little box on my screen which says ‘delete all.’ In fact, this blog is probably the most attention that Spam has ever recieved, combined. So who is being fooled here? After due analysis, I am therefore adding whatever money goes into this pitiful advertising venture, to my list of ridiculous financial wastes of time.

But it sure is entertaining.

Help Wanted: Apply Within

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to enquire as to whether you have among your persons an individual searching for respectable employment. I have a rather large job in mind, one which may appear at first glance too daunting a task to even consider. However, I am certain that it has been left too long already without being seen to, and any longer may result in (if you will forgive me my melodrama) the end of the world as we know it. This job is of a domestic nature, and may be fairly placed under the field of ‘Cleaning.’

If you have a fearless and hard working person looking for a lifetime of employment, do not hesitate to get in touch.

This is the letter I would recommend the government send round to employment agencies ASAP. The task? The urgent cleanup of the internet.

We all agree, the internet is one of the most incredible inventions of our generation. The amount of information at our fingertips, the incredible wealth of ideas and the collective minds and discussion, not to mention the closing of geographical gaps and the huge impact it has had on our social lives. Plus, it can be seriously both fun and funny. To sum up, Internet = Good Thing.

But, we are in desperate need of some kind of clear-up system. It’s just not clever to have anything and everything that anyone ever decides to make public floating around accessibly for the rest of time. Lets face it, most things just aren’t worth being given that kind of longevity.

On my travels around the internet on various crusades for knowledge, I have found:

  • The first and last train of the day timetables from as far back as 2002, just in case we have a guest who is a decade late and we want to make sure it wasnt public transport slowing them down.
  • About a million sites who want to give me free iPads, Laptops, Cameras, and Holidays. Either I am the luckiest person known to mankind, or people have far too much free rein to lie about how generous they are.
  • There are over 150,000 websites selling VHS movies. I doubt you could find 15,000 people with VHS players.

Apart from the unecessary websites, there are also just scores of people who think they are hilarious, and are not. If we leave aside youtube, which is basically a collection of things no one wants to see unless they have been linked to from another site, here are just a few examples of the ridiculous things which are floating around cyber space. All of these are simply barriers for us to find the actual information we are looking for. If my idea gets taken on, whoever the lucky cleaner is, please start with the following.

1. http://home.tiscali.nl/annejan/swf/timeline.swf A website where you can watch the time. Oddly. And by the looks of things incorrectly. So a website that is to all intents and purposes, a broken watch.

2. http://www.mwahahahahahaha.com/

3. http://www.dottedlines.com/ If anyone can explain who is paying a yearly fee for this, I would be much obliged.

4. http://pieisgood.org/

However, I have stumbled across the following incredible find, while researching this blog.

http://www.unkno.com/ As always, Thank me later.