16 unexpected ways parenting keeps you young

Sure, having children keeps you young and makes you feel like a child again. Here’s why:

  1. You need permission to go out  — not from your Mum, but from your babysitter, who is often your Mum.
  2. You become friends with the people you happen to be in closest proximity to in the school playground.
  3. Your social life consists almost entirely of a half hearted Hokey Cokey, something fizzy to drink and some unrelenting sobbing.
  4. You don’t have any money of your own and definitely none to spend on yourself.
  5. You rarely go out after dark and when you do, it’s exciting.
  6. You cry irrationally, and often.
  7. You don’t sleep beyond 6am.
  8. Sometimes you pee your pants a bit.
  9. You don’t get to decide what you do ever.
  10. You don’t get to choose what to watch on TV ever.
  11. You aren’t allowed to go to restaurants which have fragile wine glasses already placed on the table.
  12. Strangers think it’s OK to touch you, talk to you, ask you rude questions and remark on your behaviour.
  13. You leave the house with food on your clothes and sometimes your face.
  14. You are convinced that everyone hates you and what you are doing.
  15. On rainy days you long to make a camp under a duvet and stay there for weeks.
  16. You pick things off the floor and eat them before really knowing what they are.
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Bath time: I'll just sit here and smoke

At bath time and in the morning, when they are getting dressed, there is sometimes shouting. I usually have to ask them to do something a minimum of four times, with increasing volume, before it might happen.

This evening I snapped, as after countless attempts to extract them from the bath they were still absorbed in their own world of flooding my ground floor and comparing wounds (microscopic cuts). Once out, BUB.1 and BUB.2 then proceeded to shake themselves like two hairy dogs, sending water flying everywhere. I shouted. It was a longer than normal shout, because halfway through my reprimand I warmed to my subject and continued longer than necessary. It felt good. I needed it.

They both know that when I shout a) I mean it and b) I still love them dearly because 90% of the time I start laughing halfway through or they do. But when I’d finished, there was silence. Punctuated only, after a few seconds, by BUB.2 sitting himself naked on the landing, and saying: “Well I’m just going to sit here and smoke” as he lit an imaginary cigarette and started puffing nonchalantly on it.

He’s just turned five. We don’t smoke. No one he knows smokes. I don’t know where he has seen anyone smoking. It must be something he got from school, perhaps?

But it sums up parenthood to me.

1) One of them will always stop you dead in your tracks and make you laugh (when you should probably cry) and 2) Once they unfurl themselves from fluffy toddlerhood and become a fully fledged child, you no longer control them and you no longer control their sense of humour.

And in the middle of a raucous, stressful bath time, that is the BEST feeling in the world. These, not the triumphs at Sports Day or the glowing school report, are the parenting moments that speak the loudest to me.

Mummuddlingthrough

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Skeletons with red noses

With BUB.1 sitting on a potty and BUB.2 propped up against wall next to him red-faced and spluttering, I found myself wearing a Halloween skeleton mask and a Comic Relief red nose as I leaned head first into the washing machine only to pull out amongst the clothes Willy Wonka’s reading glasses that had been through a 40 degree spin. They were a bit steamed up, but on removal of the skeleton mask I couldn’t see any further damage. A good moment. A highlight.

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I absolutely loved this story that popped up on my Facebook news feed this week. It’s about how most of us are guilty of constructing a false picture of idyllic parenthood in our Facebook posts, when the reality can be…disgusting and awful. We do it of course to make ourselves feel better and to tell ourselves that this is OK, everything is OK, honestly. When often,  like any day, for anyone, it’s not.

In light of this, last Friday went something like this.

On waking BUB.1 complained of tummy ache so we spent an hour trying to coax him to do his business. Before, during and after breakfast there were shouts of “Squeeze!” and “I can’t!” and “Just do it!” and “It’s just a pump!” and “Try!” and “No!” and so on. As he slowly got paler and more miserable, it became evident he wouldn’t make it to the 8.30am doctors appointment I had made for us regarding a lovely skin complaint, so I bundled him and his brother into the car and offloaded them to my parents who now, thankfully, live five minutes away and I went to the doctors alone. At last, some “me time”.

On my return he sat up and puked in Nanny’s hand and a little bit down her dressing gown and felt a lot better.

Back at home, following a root around the dressing up box, the tummy urges returned, this time synchronised, and with BUB.1 sitting on a potty and BUB.2 propped up against wall next to him red-faced and spluttering, I found myself wearing a Halloween skeleton mask and a Comic Relief red nose as I leaned head first into the washing machine only to pull out amongst the clothes Willy Wonka’s reading glasses that had been through a 40 degree spin.

Clearing up the lunch things in the kitchen, I heard a loud yelp and a cry of “Mum!” from the living room, which normally means the TV has been accidentally switched off but this time I got wind of the word “spider”. Rushing in, I found BUB.1’s cream cheese bagel strewn across the cushions as he stood pointing at the sofa, upon which a spider the size of Saturn was seated. Unable to get close enough to this beast to save him, and fearful of him scampering deep into the cushions, I had to suck him up with the vacuum cleaner, which I then had to sling outside on the porch in the driving rain, for fear of a reprise.

As I dashed off to the local hairdresser, I was looking forward to half an hour pampering. I was therefore disappointed to be subjected to half an hour of discussion about a missing curling tongs invoice and the messy details of someone’s divorce. A quick blast (no blow dry, no point), and I was home.  An old, tatty magazine and smile costs nothing.

A bit later I saw a man lurking by my car, before knocking to tell me I’d left my lights on. Well, the three that worked, because as it turned out one had blown.

Tea time saw BUB.1 suffer his first blow to the bollocks as he slid off the windowsill too fast and landed on the side of a chair.

And I thought to myself, welcome to the real world son. Some days are just like that.

Petite Pudding