Children Cannot be Pre-Prepared For
My Aunt Bernie sent me through this Daily Mail article that has been going viral in various social media platforms recently – although according to one comment, it’s been around for 20 years. Bernie thought I could add a dimension to the discussion (post first year) after my recent hair-tearing incidents with my mini-loves. Some highlights include:
Test 4: Dressing Small Children
1. Buy a live octopus and a string bag.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the string bag so that no arms hangout.
Time Allowed: 5 minutes.
Test 5: Cars
1. Forget the BMW. Buy a practical 5-door wagon.
2. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there.
3. Get a coin. Insert it into the CD player.
4. Take a box of chocolate biscuits; mash them into the back seat.
5. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.
Test 9: Feeding a 1 year-old
1. Hollow out a melon
2. Make a small hole in the side
3. Suspend the melon from the ceiling and swing it side to side
4. Now get a bowl of soggy cornflakes and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon while pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the cornflakes are gone.
6. Tip the rest into your lap, making sure that a lot of it falls on the floor
Test 11: Mess
Can you stand the mess children make? To find out:
1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains
2. Hide a fish behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flowerbeds and then rub them on clean walls. Cover the stains with crayon. How does that look?
4. Empty every drawer/cupboard/storage box in your house onto the floor and proceed with step 5.
5. Drag randomly items from one room to another room and leave them there
But it got me thinking in a different direction. You see I don’t think you can ever really know what it is like to become a parent 24x7x365 until you’re in the midst of it. OK OK OK before you bitch slap me as a non-parent who says you DO know, let me rephrase that – I (as in me, singular, not anyone else) could NEVER EVER have known what it was like and how it would impact me BEFORE I had kids. I honestly had no idea and can see now that I was unable to “hear” much of what was said to me before my parental responsibilities actually commenced. In this article, some of the parents responded in the comments section saying they didn’t have a single moment like this and thought it was all tosh, but many agreed. Although I’m sure others could respond saying is that it? And then list out a million more scenarios an adult considering taking the path of parenthood could experiment with.
However, this is where my thinking went. Yes all of that stuff is true - to an extent - depending on your child and whether or not you give them peanut butter sandwiches, but it all comes in stages, it’s often over before you even realise it’s pissed you off, and then something else rears its head and kicks you in the arse. But you get through it.
You get through every single incident or long-term annoying behaviour, or weeks of being a screaming hag, or intense annoyance at the lack of control over your environment on a daily basis, or you get the hell out of there and hand the responsibility over to someone else, or you go to a spa for a day and dream of sleeping in, or you are lucky and drop the kids at the grandparents for a weekend and escape your reality for a little bit, or you don’t have that luxury because you live in another country and are too bloody guilty to leave your children with the “hired help” so you blog about it, or you have absolutely no guilt and piss off to the Maldives or Bali whenever you get a chance because you know that you’re important in the mix too, or you don’t cope at all, or you just do it every day with joy in your heart because you made this decision to have kids but you’re not perfect and you often feel guilty about that but sometimes you wake up and realise that it’s ok not to be perfect so stop beating yourself up and find love and peace in your heart for your kids today, and tomorrow if there's enough left in the tank.
And you do any of the above or a million different things, because you love these little buggers. You love them in a way you can never explain to anyone else, even other parents, because you love them so intimately, and no one else in the world knows them the way you do. One day you won’t know them, because they’ll stop letting you in, but for now, you do and you are their EVERYTHING, even when you don’t deserve to be. From the day they come into your life, you feel wonder at their very existence (or you don’t) and consider the possibility that magic really does exist (or you don’t). You marvel at their every achievement in their first year (or you don’t), and after that, they make you laugh with pure pleasure because of how they look at the world and make sense of the stuff you forgot to pay attention to long ago (or you don’t!).
You feel an intense duty to nourish your child – body, mind and soul (or you don’t and just want someone else to take over, or don’t even give it a second thought) - and it is this incredible sense of responsibility you feel towards them that makes you want to be better for your kids. You want to be a role model, an inspiration, and an example of how to be a good human being in the world (or you don’t even think about this stuff). But most parents know that children are a canvas and we get a lot of input into the final artwork, a design we know we can fuck up a lot because our parents may have fucked it up because they didn’t come from a generation that thought about this stuff all that much – or they were brilliant. The thing is, nothing I say may resonate or everything may resonate, but we’re all so bloody different and that means there’s not a one-size fits all, or no right or wrong!
The umbilical cord gets cut at birth, but I found the ethereal umbilical cord remained, and because of that, you can’t sleep at night because sometimes fear eats away at you - perhaps something horrible might happen to them? Because you can’t imagine a world without these mini-people in your life… and that’s why you pick yourself up, slap yourself around a bit, because they are amazing human beings, a treasure of unmeasurable value (even the turds) and you just love because they’re your kids - pure and simple.
But sometimes you’ve got to rant and scream at the world because IT IS NOT BLOODY EASY (but maybe it is for you?) and for that, most of us need an appropriate outlet of some description. I blog when I need to rant – that helps me. I only hope every parent or care giver has an outlet – because shit we need one sometimes and kids really aren’t an appropriate outlet. However, it’s easy to forget that some people have nowhere else to go and that’s why we also need to have compassion for other parents. We never know where anyone else is in their life, or what personal hell haunts some of our fellow human beings! Compassion is very important.
I find it unexplainable the sheer love and devotion I feel towards my kids, because they’re completely unique, and I’m completely unique, and we all have different experiences, responses, ways of thinking, points of view, behaviours, emotional hot zones, etc, etc, etc, that are completely unique and somehow we mesh ourselves into a family, where hopefully everyone is getting the best they can out of it – so how do you explain that? How can you prepare for that?
This article is great, but the one thing I know (but you might not agree) is that you can't pre-prepare for this parenting malarkey. What do you think?
Yours without the bollocksAndrea