A Handy Phrasebook For Dissuading Your Childless Relatives From Ever Procreating

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My sister Lisa inspired this post. She is a very happy, successful person who is in no way interested in having children for a long while. I credit myself in part for her lack of urge to procreate. Because even with the best of intentions, casual oversharing happens. I can’t help it!

Lisa has come a long way since I had Big Girl all those years ago. She no longer holds my children with the facial expression of a person with a ticking hand grenade glued to their hands. And she has become more unshockable as time has gone by.

But still, if I delve into the memory banks of the last seven years, I can find little snippets of information guaranteed to make her respond with, “Oh my God, I am never having children!”

I’d like to say that I don’t often share these snippets for the sole purpose of freaking her the fuck out. It would give me great pleasure to say this. But it would be a lie.

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I’m just not that nice.

You too can share the joys of parenting with your childless relatives. Go on, spread the love! I’ve made it nice and easy for you by collating a few examples together into a handy phrasebook you can refer to when you need a conversation starter.

Go forth and be inspired!

1. “Standing up after a vaginal birth can be… surprising.”

Or, in the extended version: “When you stand up after a vaginal birth it can feel like you’ve left your internal organs behind in the chair.”

A touch graphic, mayhap. But really, is it a lie? The early days of parenting are full of surprises, but looking back to those first moments in the hospital with a tiny Big Girl, that’s one of the things that sticks in my mind.

And honestly, is it all that bad? When I think of all the bodily fluid spillage, intense sleep deprivation and figuring out how to get a vest on my fragile newborn without breaking her arms, a bit of vaginal trauma seems like small beans to me.

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My sister does not agree.

2. “I can’t even nip to the loo without disastrous consequences.”

One of the biggest changes after you have a baby relates to time. All that time you had before to do whatever you wanted becomes a distant memory, and you find yourself scrabbling for a moment to shove a piece of toast down your neck or change a decidedly moist t shirt.

Toilet trips, though. I mean, you’re there five minutes at most. What’s the worst that could happen?

When Big Girl was a newborn I can remember sprinting down the stairs at breakneck speed because I was convinced that the television was about to topple over and crush her.

No, the stand was by no means unstable. And it wasn’t even a wobbly flatscreen! Ah, the irrationality that comes with new motherhood.

Love it.

Times change, though, and now instead of a helpless new baby I have a decidedly unhelpful toddler. And this week in particular, she is really indulging her mischievous streak.

Even so, I naively thought that a quick toilet trip would be safe. There’s no way a kid can do a significant amount of damage in such a short time. Right?

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Wrong. Oh so wrong.

You see, when I came down I found Squeak smiling at me innocently, surrounded by a pool that consisted of almost a pint of milk and more than a drop of self-satisfaction.

Interesting fact: Milk doesn’t half spread when poured over a smooth surface!

I’m fairly sure she wasn’t trying to drink it, as she was bone dry. I can only assume that mischief struck, and she just couldn’t resist.

And yes, I am aware that it shouldn’t have been in her reach. Frankly, I’m not sure why it was!

3. “Sweep.”

Apparently this one needs no explanation. Just a <shudder>

4. “Being accompanied to a public toilet by a small child can be embarrassing.”

An obvious solution to number two’s issue can be to take the child with you to the toilet. At home, this is fine. No one can hear the inquisitive interrogation that issues forth from your child’s mouth. But outside? In public?

That’s a whole different story.

For small children will insist on proclaiming their joy at your use of the facilities. Loudly. And in detail.

Damn that positive praise you used to encourage potty training! This shit always comes back to bite you in the ass.

A little bit of information for the kids though: If you have to, and I know you have to, comment on the appearance of my pubic hair, in a public toilet, which is very busy, at the very least don’t laugh at it.

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That emotional scarring will take years to heal.

5. “Could you change her nappy for me please?”

I threw my sister in at the deep end when Little Girl was about eighteen months old. We were moving house, and she had kindly offered to look after the girls for the day while we got everything sorted.

She did not know what she was letting herself in for.

Maybe I forgot to mention that Little Girl had some digestive issues, which meant that her nappies frequently resembled some sort of hell-sourced fluid.

I may also have forgotten to mention that changing the nappy of a busy toddler is somewhat akin to performing advanced level origami with a hyperactive eel as an assistant.

The look of abject horror on my sister’s face when she returned the children was hard to forget.

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I mean, not that I wanted to forget it or anything. Oh no. It was fucking hilarious!

Yeah go ahead, you can feel sorry for her instead.

6. “Oh yeah, babies poop this weird, tarry black stuff for a couple of days when they’re born.”

Apparently, meconium is a big conversational no-no.

I try not to discuss bodily fluids all that much with my sister. I mean, I do love her really. But come on! That stuff is horrifying even for a person who is wrapped up in that haze of newborn love.

Why? Just why does it even need to exist? And why the hell is it so bloody hard to get off?

7. “Once, when we were cuddling, she stuck her finger so far up my nose that it bled.”

My sister enjoys cuddling my daughters almost as much as I do. They adore her, and throw themselves into her arms joyfully as soon as she enters the house.

I’d prefer not to spoil these happy moments with the above piece of information. I really would. But it pays to be prepared.

I mean, sometime our children just love us a little too hard. And orifices don’t just explore themselves.

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Amirite?

Let’s just keep the accidental headbutts from a rock solid toddler skull between ourselves, ok?

8. “I wish I could get my toddler to keep her clothes on when we’re out of the house.”

I’ve mentioned before the skill and speed with which my girls shed their clothes whenever they feel like it. At home, this isn’t a problem. If you don’t want to see a squidgy toddler butt then don’t look in through my window, right?

I just wish my children could exercise a little discretion when out in public. I can remember once, when Big Girl was only two or so, I took her to a local toddler group. She didn’t have the same violent tendencies as Squeak, so once she had settled in I stopped to have a bit of a chat with a friend.

A few minutes later, I turned to find Big Girl half naked (the bottom half, obviously) and happily sitting in a sandpit as other toddlers looked on, baffled and, I believe, more than a little envious.

I raced to bundle her back into her trousers, and explain that nudity is something usually reserved for home.

Naturally, she was pissed.

9. “She just started holding her breath until she passes out when she’s mad.”

Even for me, this one is hard to handle. And I’m pretty used to the often bizarre situations that parenting three eccentric children throws at me. But it freaks me out to see a child do the exact opposite of what she needs to stay alive. I know it’s not conscious or controllable but seriously, if your brain does this to you when you get angry or hurt yourself, you’ve got to question it about its ulterior motives.

Despite the horror of witnessing and dealing with this, I try to see the positives. At least I can now say, with confidence, that I know exactly what my child looks like when she turns bright purple.

Actually, that’s not much of an impressive thing to know.

Man, I’m glad she’s growing out of this.

10. “I wish my child didn’t mix her words up so often, it’s really embarrassing!”

I know what you’re thinking. How can a poor little kid getting her words wrong be such a mortifying situation? Well, after I’ve told the tale that accompanies this statement, I think you’ll understand me.

Last week, I was with all of the children in the chemist, waiting to pick up a prescription. There were about five people also waiting, and it was very, very quiet.

Little Girl was in a fidgety sort of mood, and spent a good few minutes flipping up her skirt and adjusting and re-adjusting her knickers.

This would have been embarrassing in itself, if I hadn’t had the experience of most of the above points. I’m pretty thick skinned now.

Bending down, I whispered to her, “Little Girl, can you keep your skirt down please? Nobody wants to see your bottom!”

Quick solution, right?

Ha.

For instead of acquiescing, and passing the rest of the time busily attempting to read the instructions for various brands of diarrhoea medication, Little Girl gave me a terrible frown. Then she proclaimed, in that crystal clear, echoing tone that only children can communicate by, “But I’ve got a WILLY!”

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I raised my eyebrows slightly, trying without success to hold in my mirth. She looked confused for a second, and then giggled. “Um, I mean a wedgie.”

Big Girl and I exploded, giggling our heads off. What perplexed me the most was that not one single other person who must have overheard let out even the tiniest snigger. How do these people control themselves?

Ok, actually this wasn’t all that embarrassing for me. But if I hadn’t, after years of exposure to extreme mortification, been pretty much dead inside, it totally would have been.

Ah, kids.

11. “Watch out, she bites.”

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I feel like this is self explanatory.

Go on, try it out! See just how many people you can horrify and traumatise. Spread the joy!

And then, you know, come back and tell me all about it. Because I could always do with a laugh!