Sunday, 13 May 2012

The truth behind the magic

Due to technical difficulties - ie my laptop just died - I am attempting this on an iPad for the first time. It is not as fun. Please excuse all formatting and spelling errors as it is just too tricky to sort out.

So, where were we. Oh yes, I was a tad tiddly after a few glasses of wine. For those who may have worried over the health of my unborn infant, fear not. I am yet to have it medically proven, but I am more than a little bit certain that moderate wine intake during pregnancy actually makes for far more interesting children. Those dull, serious little children you see walking around who don't find poo and fart jokes amusing - definitely teetotal in the womb. In particular I think drinking Cava and Champagne, due to the bubble content, make for more bubbly children. I am just awaiting my lottery win to provide backing for serious and scientific research in to the whole thing, but for now you will have to take my word for it. I must be clear though, that spirits do not make for spirited childre and should be steered clear of entirely - that is just plain irresponsiblility. Same for alcopops. If bubbles make you bubbly then imagine what a drink like WKD could do for them. Although it could explain the high proportion of ASBO behaviour displayed by teenagers in the sort of areas where alcopops are heavily consumed...... Imagine the possibilities of my research - it really could be fascinating.

On the subject of pregnancy, in order to receive some free stuff just because i'm pregnant, I signed up to some companies who, in return for my details and free stuff, helpfully email me once a week to advertise to me and let me know what stage I am at, what I can expect in pregnancy and generally give me advice on the whole shebang. My 29 week email arrived yesterday. It was massively helpful. Firstly, it advised me that although I might suddenly fancy a lot of ice cream, I should keep it as an occasional treat and try substituting my high fat treat with something that is lower in saturated fats such as fruit sorbet. That is clearly a game changing bit of advice. Thank goodness they emailed me or I would have spent the next 11 weeks blindly eating tubs of Phish Food thinking that all the fat and sugar it contained was actually good for me and the baby and that it would have no affect whatsoever on my weight; Then it advised me to remember that my partner is also going through the pregnancy with me and I should 'take time' to talk through my day-to-day feelings and our future lives as parents with him. Now. On so many levels I have issues with this. Number One. This is clearly intended for first time parents and I would be a tad concerned if, on a general level, couples expecting their first baby were already struggling to communicate and she didn't already share quite a lot of detail with him/her over the growing human she was carrying. I found that our first pregnancy was when K was most able to listen to me rabbit on about our future and the baby and we had the most time and desire to talk to ech other. However... Number Two. I don't need to be told to talk to my husband about my hopes and fears and feelings now as he is incredibly over hearing about my hopes and feelings. I am pretty sure he would like me to shut up about them. Especially my constant musings over what flavour baby I might get. Number Three. Any parents to be that might go out for a meal in the hazy glow of imminent parenthood are highly unlikely to understand what it is that is about to happen to them and any chats they might have would be no more use than discussing the weather in regards to their 'future lives as parents'. So, I may write back to Pampers and advise them that rather than a single throw away sentence about taking time to discuss crap they should give future parents helpful scenarios in order to assist and focus their discussions. I have some ideas for them - Scenario A: After you have ordered your meal and clinked your glasses together in joyful anticipation of your baby's arrival, start discussing the following scenario: It is 2am in the morning. You have had around 3 hours of broken sleep since 9.30pm when you collapsed in to bed. The baby is crying intermittently and will not settle. You have awoken your partner again to ask for help as you have run out of ideas. He takes the baby and attempts to soothe it to sleep. When he attempts to put the baby down it awakes once again and begins screaming. He tells you that he has no idea what it is and maybe you should try feeding it again. You, who have not slept for more than a few hours at a time for 3 weeks after a horrifyingly long birth process which meant you didn't sleep for 3 nights in a row before being cut open in an emergency ceasarean, have reached a point of madness never before experienced and what can only be descrbed as a 'red mist' descends. You throw back the duvet cover and adopt a tone of utter disgust and condescension, wear a tight and fixed smile and begin a tirade along the lines of, "Why YES. What a fucking brilliant idea you cocking genius. Why the fuckety buggering HELL didn't I think of getting my boob out to see if maybe all this screaming was due to overwhelming cocking hunger. What a total fool I feel for leaving it at least 15 minutes since I last attempted to get some sleep by force feeding him/her my sore and aching boobs." (feel free to add in language you would use here to make it more realistic). Scenario B. You awake in the early morning and realise that you are very unwell. You have a terrible temperature, aching bones, your eyes hurt and standing up makes you cry. You turn to your partner and whisper that he will have to take the day off work as you have the flu. He slowly comes round and then says there is absolutely no way he can take a day off as there is an important client meet/planning meeting/corporate lunch/no one else in the office (insert appropriate) and that you will just 'have to cope' and 'isn't there someone else who can help you?'. Take a moment to imagine how you will feel. Then take a moment to draw up a list of possible 'helpers' in such a scenario. The luckier ones amongst you will have family/friends nearby who can help. Others will be miles from anyone and will quickly realise you are totally on your own. In that scenario ensure that you have an incredibly comprehensive range of medicines to help you and ignore all advice over not taking them whilst breastfeeding. Practical: Spend Saturday night waking each other up every hour and a half and keep each other awake for 20 minutes by being incredibly irritating - at least twice in the experiment ensure the 20 minutes is spent pacing the hallway. Try going for a supermakrekt shop on Sunday and making decisions over seemingly mundane things and see if arguments ensue.  

You see. Now wouldn't this make for a far more interesting email and a far more helpful start to their parenting journey. I should really write a book as well as fund my research. So much to do....

I'm not sure I would be taken seriously on either count though. Especially as an 'authority'. As we have clearly already established in 'curse and neglect', I am pretty fallible and I think critics would have a field day pulling apart my parenting abilities. Think about it - Gina Ford and Jo 'SuperNanny' Frost have no children for a reason - it is far easier to tell people what to do than to do it yourself and be criticised. Ted, for some reason, has substituted the sound 'Qu' for 'F' which means that when he sees a duck he shouts 'Fack Fack' very loudly. Unfortunately there are a lot of ducks around, in real life as well as in picture form, so it has become a tad embarrassing to say the least. A two year old with Tourette's habits is not a good look for any mother. It has also been brought to my attention that the amount of American programmes and films my children watch has altered their language. George came in to the kitchen and excitedly told me that he was going to draw the sign for money. He promptly drew a huge dollar sign and was baffled by my insitance that this was not used in our country. Bea was charging admission to a 'show' and told me it was going to be 25 cents. They call rubbish garbage. Bea wants to know when she will go to High School. Our garden is constantly refered to as a 'yard' and they use the words butt, movie, mail, closet, elevator, gas station, cotton candy and diaper. I clearly need to spend more time 'parenting'. Don't even ask what Ted has managed to get hold of on You Tube - 'fack'ing at ducks could be the least of my language issues with him if I don't start supervising screen time a little more closely.

So, I clearly need to find appropriate English programmes for the big two to watch. So far I can only find game shows. Cbeebies is too young for them and Cbbc is too old for them. Doctor Who is way too scary for me and therefore them, and things like Tracy Beaker are too 'real'. I have forbidden them from learning about any realism in the world. I do not want them to know that children's homes, neglectful parents, miserable children or anything horrible like that exist in their world, so the Disney programmes that helpfully gloss over anything meaningful or serious and replace them with happy and hilarious families are perfect for me. And therefore them.  I have dealt with the major issue - death. I feel death is an important one as it can sneak up on you when you least expect it and it is also easy to introduce as a concept as they are very aware of their dead grandad and their now dead neighbour who was very good at present buying.  However I do not want to deal with anything more upsetting from 'real life' - like sex. A friend has told me that as she is nearly eight, I have to tell Bea the truth soon for fear of being told/teased by other more knowing children at school. This is a bit of a shock for me. It turns out that my explanation of how we get babies (you need a man and a woman and they have to have a special cuddle) is not sufficient to see her through to 11 years old. DAMN. The thing is she hasn't gone to Disneyland yet and I can't possibly tell her the harsher truths of life before we have given her the ultimate 'magic' experience. You see it is not that I am a prude, or embarrassed or anything silly, no, it is because I think once you open Pandora's box it is impossible to close it again. How can I tell her the ugly truth about 'doing the do' when she still believes in fairies? When I was a child and I learnt the ugly truth I thought it was revolting and rather took away from the 'magic' of babies. I spent my childhood hoping to find one delivered to our doorstep or hoping that I would magically become 'with child' simply because I wanted one. Once I found out that one had to be slightly more committed to the project in order to receive a child, I realised I was going to have to wait a long time before I could get my very own baby and I remember being massively disappointed.  To have to let Bea in to the secret would put an end to her idea of magic and then where would it end? Father Christmas? Easter Bunny? Do I just sit her down and say that everything is a lie and magic doesn't exist - that father christmas is just us and that the babies that have followed on from her have not come from magic cuddles but something far more messy which is again, just us. I can't bring myself to burst all her bubbles at once. Maybe I'll start with the tooth fairy and work up from there. Maybe when she's 9. That seems far enough away for me not to have to worry about it now. OR I could force her to watch the birth, then promptly explain how the baby got up there in the first place and hopefully this will build a sufficiently scary neurological pathway that she will never again want to talk to me about anything lest I scare her with the truth. It also has the added advantage of her being too scared to go near a boy until she is way over the age of consent. That is definitely an option.

Although I'm not sure if even that would be enough to keep her from growing up too soon. Girls do seem to be maturing a lot younger these days. I picked her up from a 7th Birthday party yesterday from the back of a scary looking pub where the function room had been turned in to a 'nightclub'. I am all for indulging children but a nightclub themed party seems a tad premature whilst their school still has the word 'Infants' in the title. Even I had a 'Disco' themed party at around 9 but it was an all girls, daytime party in the village hall where my mum had to give the DJ a Paul Simon Graceland record (he still used records - that makes me feel a tad old but I think perhaps the DJ was a bit behind the times. It was only a few decades ago...) because clearly it wasn't something he played a lot on the DJing circuit and it was my favourite album at the time. I remember it vividly as I wore denim head to toe (classy), and a girl called Tamsin spent the entire time the music was playing with her fingers in her ears saying 'I don't like POP music'. It wasn't quite the same as a blacked out room in the back of a scary pub in Penge with proper Disco lights and real coke. (The drink I mean - obviously it wasn't THAT realistic - the mother wasn't Sadie Frost or anything, it's just that up til now we have only been to parties that served squash, apple juice or water as beverages - occassionaly the more 'edgy' mothers would offer lemonade but that is rare so it was the first thing Bea and her friend mentioned when I picked them up.)

Of course, the other way to keep her away from boys is to make her fat - it worked an absolute treat for me. I think mum was pretty sure of the fact that I was about as attractive to the opposite sex as a sack of potatoes so it wasn't until I lost the weight at 16 and became a slightly more attractive proposition that things started to kick off in the boy department. And even then it was a very slow start...

That is enough from me. This has gone on long enough. I shall just leave you with the happy news that Bea received a Distinction in her modern dance exam. I have no idea if they give Distinction to all children on their first exam to boost their confidence, but I am choosing to pretend that they do not and that Bea is clearly gifted. Even when I am not there to cheer her on as I am stuck in a hospital bed much against my will. Oh and also there is the happy news that I am finally rid of all my Weight Watchers stock! Wahooooooooo - I have now regained the use of my cupboard under the stairs and the boot of my car. Such excitement. The possibilities are endless for the boot of the car.

Ooooh I just thought of another helpful scenario for our pregnant couple; Imagine it is a Sunday evening, you are on the way back from a child's party in North London and you had assumed that the 45 minute journey to the party would be same for the way home, however you make a last minute change to your route home and choose to go over London Bridge. You stay on London bridge for about 40 minutes, stuck in the car with three children, of whom two are incredibly tired, whiney and irritable (The youngest is being surprisingly delightful) You spend the entire time trying to find sources of amusement and distraction for the irritable children and apologise unreservedly for your poor choice of river crossing. The journey home in fact takes the entire length of time you spent at the party therefore making you feel extra specially guilty and when you finally get through the door of your home all children are tired and hungry, it is bath time and your partner has lost all perspective, patience and sense of humour. Discuss. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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