Parenting Skills I Have Never Acquired

Parenting is essentially a college course that you never graduate from. Everything is a learning opportunity, and I am constantly picking up little tips and tricks to make my life a bit easier. I have the walking with a child hanging off my leg, the cooking in three minute bursts and the dressing an octopus skills down pat.

But there are some skills I’ve never quite managed to acquire. Maybe I missed that lesson, maybe my kids were busy doing some other fuckery or maybe I’m just an idiot.

my face

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Anyway, let’s get on!

The Ability To Change Nappies Standing Up

I know that so much of writing depends on the visual. So, for the purpose of enlightening you all, I must explain that in this scenario, I am not the one doing the standing up. Obviously. Because while due to my slightly underdeveloped height I am closer to the floor than the average person, my arms are also proportionately stumpy. So, in summary, I cannot change a floor-lying person from the vertical position.

Glad we cleared that up.

Anyway, I have seen so many posts online where people bemoan their newly mobile babies’ inability to lie still for the essential nappy changing process. The solution that is always given, without question, is ‘just changing him standing up!’

Well folks, I am most certainly¬†not without question. More specifically, I am asking, “How the fuck do you do that??”

squeak standing

Lookit the thighs!

You see? Now you’re visualising!

Is there something I’m missing here? I get that changing the nappy of a kid that can corkscrew his own freaking body borders on the bloody impossible, but I can’t see how this makes it any easier. I mean, I’m seeing mess, I’m seeing chaos, I’m seeing my hand wedged between two ballooning baby thighs. And yes, I’m also seeing stealth poos and me futilely chasing a waddling shit machine across a room with a cream carpet.

How do you do it? Seriously tell me, because despite my last child rapidly approaching potty training, I feel like this knowledge would bring me peace.

So bring me peace, goddammit!

The Ability To Listen To Two Conversations At Once

My kids come out of school smiling, rumpled and extremely rosy-cheeked.

What, you mean that's make up?

What, you mean that’s make up?

Does the school’s heating even have an off button?

We begin the walk home, that inevitably involves snails, falling over and an awkward conversation about genitalia.

You know, the usual.

As we walk, I ask the same question I always ask: “So, how was your day?”

What follows is a cacophony of noise that sounds approximately like this:

“Blah blah blah geflurgle bleath a playtime vegan hurly flooby hot dinner mooga PENIS!” Or something along those lines, anyway.

Ten points for anyone who tried saying that out loud. No judgement, I did it like ten times.

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Squeak tried it too.

Now, in my opinion I should have the ability to listen to both of my attention-hungry scholars simultaneously. I mean, I have two ears! But actually what results is an overwhelming of the senses so great that I have to fight the urge to stick my fingers in my ears and shout, “La la la la la la la!”

So instead I have to referee a game of turn taking, partial sentences and periods where a child grabs at my sleeve urgently, only to follow it up with, “Errrmmmmmmmmmm…..”

What a pain in the arse.

The Ability To Make Sense Out Of Utter Nonsense

If you guys agree with me on just one thing in this post, it’ll be this: Kids are really fucking weird.

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Mmm hmm.

You’ve got to be constantly on your toes. Forget brain surgery, screw quantum physics and military strategies can kiss my ass. Trying to figure out what oils the cogs of my kids’ brains is one of the more perplexing tasks of my day.

You’d think that, having had so much practice, I’d be really good at knowing how to respond.

Well, I don’t want to undersell myself. I do have a fairly consistent response. It’s just not all that helpful.

Allow me to illustrate with a little story. The other night, Squeak woke up. On the scale of zero to hysteria, she was hovering somewhere around the strangled howl level. So, being the responsible mother that I am, I ran upstairs to sort her out.

Sliding into bed next to her, I asked my usual question, “Ah honey, what’s the matter?” I don’t know why I bother asking, the answer is nearly always *mumble* *mumble* *squeak* But hey, after being silent for the couple of hours following bedtime, it’s always good to know the vocal cords still work!

That night, Squeak decided to mix it up a little. Her face crumpled as she yelled, ” I lost my head!” And she continued to sniffle.

Now, what I should have done at this point was to comfort her. Cuddle, kiss, wave my boob in her general direction. Like, whatever.

What actually happened is that I sat on the bed, staring at Squeak with an incredulous expression on my face. I’m guessing it was akin to the look I imagine I would wear if I ever actually managed a full night’s sleep.

They're not in my bed, but it's only a matter of time.

They’re not in my bed, but it’s only a matter of time.

Yeah, as if that’s ever going to happen.

I didn’t do any of the comforting things. And the staring lasted for way longer than is truly acceptable when faced with a wailing toddler.

My bad. Really got to sort this shit out.

The Ability To Look An Angry Child In The Face Without Laughing

There is one thing I know to be true about angry children: They look really fucking funny.

I don’t know if it’s the sight of such an adult expression on a young face, or if I’m just some sort of sick individual who glories in the less pleasant emotions of my offspring.

Nope, it’s definitely the first one. They just look so freaking funny! And of course you’ve got the foot stamping as well. Squeak has levelled this one up with her invention of the ‘double foot stamp.’ I mean, essentially it’s just pissed off jumping. But that’s what makes it special!

cheese

It’s clear to me that I need to find a way to contain my laughter. I can’t think of one situation where it’s ever made it any better. But for me, the easiest giggler in the whole world, that’s easier said than done.

So I’m going to continue, messing up my authoritative stance within my house and escalating minor altercations with my guffaws.

That is, until they stop provoking me!

The Ability To See My Child Falling And Not Stand Frozen To The Spot (Sometimes With My Eyes Closed)

I’d like to begin by stating that I am neither evil, nor mildly¬†sociopathic. I can’t help it! I think it’s some kind of fucked up reflex, although for the life of me I can’t figure out how it could possibly be useful.

It can be kind of frustrating. As we’re walking along, I see the trip, the tangled feet, the flailing of arms as my kid begins the downward journey towards the ‘splat!’ on the pavement. And my brain is yelling, “Run to her! Catch her! Fucking do something!” But apparently, the connection between said brain and my traitorous body momentarily lapses, because instead I become like a tree, completely rooted to the spot. And yes, sometimes my eyes close.

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Why??

Once they’ve landed on the floor the spell is broken and I can run to them, scoop them up and do all of the various comforting things that are in my repetoire. All good. Well, except for the complete parenting fail that preceded it, anyway.

I’d love it if someone could give me an insight into this one, because it makes me feel really guilty! But no matter how hard I ponder it, I always come back to the same conclusion: I am really fucking stupid.

Help me!

The Ability To Pick Up Children From School Without Leaving The House

Well ok, I haven’t exactly figured out how to achieve this one yet. I think you’ll agree it’s a bit of a pipe dream. But come on, a woman’s gotta hope.

Right?

Right??

HNI_0016

On Courting Disaster

People often say that bad things come in threes. I disagree. I would say they come in eleventy-millions. That’s how it feels at the moment, anyway.

In my opinion, going through such a trauma as what happened last week should give me and the girls a get-out-of-jail-free pass for… oh, a few millenia or so? But life doesn’t work that way. In fact, I’m starting to think that there is a seriously vindictive bastard out there somewhere, whose sole job is to fuck with me.

And I'm not even talking about the kids, this time.

And I’m not even talking about the kids, this time.

On Friday morning our pet budgie chose, with impeccable timing, to die. Half an hour before school. I mean, what the fuck? Cut a woman some slack here! Of course Big Girl and Little Girl found him, I expect you guessed that. What a fucking shitstorm.

Somehow I managed, tearfully, to get them into school. I was tempted to just keep them off, but I figured that they’d at least be busy and distracted all day. And it left me with only one child to occupy while I engaged in Operation Bird Removal.

Now there’s a job I would have usually passed over to my partner. But not any more!

I wouldn’t allow myself to be bested by an animal that doesn’t even have opposable thumbs. Not even if I loved him. So, through floods of tears, I slowly dismantled his cage. I sniffed and I sobbed and I howled. Was I crying about the bird? A little bit. But I suspect that mostly I was releasing a lot of the pain I was feeling about the loss of the life I had hoped and planned for.

Never did I think being a funeral director for an animal could be so therapeutic.

I placed him on a kitchen roll bed in a shoe box, and left him in the corner of the kitchen until the girls came home from school. That evening, we had a little birdie funeral. They drew him pictures, and we said our goodbyes. It was so fucking sad. But they were so brave, and just wonderful. When we were done, I pulled them into a soggy floor-cuddle, and there we stayed for a while. Then Big Girl looked at me and said, “I don’t want to cry any more. It makes my throat hurt.”

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Kid, I fucking hear you!

I am finding that I am really missing that little bird. Sure, he was a grumpy little shit who never let the theme tune of my favourite programmes go by without squawking his damn head off, but he was mine.

The next story is a touch funnier, although it wasn’t at the time! On Sunday morning, I took the kids out shopping for the usual mundane crap: milk, washing powder, yawn. Our little shopping centre has a bit of raised flooring, with steps and slopes and handrails. Remember the handrails, they play a big role in this.

So we got all the stuff we needed, and began to make our way home. The girls always want to go up the steps and run down the slope. It was quiet, so I just left them to it. Big Girl made it down with no problem. But not Little Girl…

Can you see where this is going?

I was chatting with Big Girl when I heard a shriek of epic proportions. I looked up, hoping and praying that, just this one time, the sun would shine on me and give me a break.

Nope, still cloudy.

At first, it was hard to see what the matter was. So Little Girl helpfully clarified with a high-pitched yell of, “I STUUUUUCK!!!”

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Fucking hell.

She had decided that, instead of running down the slope, it would be an excellent idea to walk between the handrail and the wall. It was not an excellent idea. It was a spectacularly shitty idea, in fact.

But I think she’d worked that out for herself by then. Because she was absolutely and completely wedged in there.

It was at that exact moment that I decided that someone, somewhere, seriously had it in for me.

I tried to calm her, but she was freaking out. I tried to get her head out, but it was really stuck in there. And how many genius ideas did I have to fix this problem?

None. My mind was completely blank. All I could think of was the humiliation of having her cut free by firemen. I know a few of my friends would be positively delighted with that occurrence, but that’s just not how I roll.

Thankfully, someone with a functioning brain passed by, and suggested that I walk her backwards until the gap widened a bit and she could escape. Which was really fucking obvious, actually. I mean, she had to get in there somehow, right? So we did it.

And, thank God, it worked. She sobbed and clung to me, and I may have shed a few tears as well.

Now just to put up with the four months of repetitive telling of the story from Little Girl, every time we go shopping.

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Yay.

There was one more, fairly trivial but extremely irritating thing which happened this week. My hoover developed reflux.

Yes, reflux. Oh, you know what I mean. You spend ages hoovering the carpet. Then you stand back to admire your handiwork, turn off the hoover, and sigh as everything you just picked up is regurgitated from the end of the nozzle.

So fucking annoying.

I wasn’t going to let a little plastic piece of crap get one over on me, though. My carpet is clean now, and the hoover has been relegated to the rapidly expanding rubbish pile.

This much.

Fuck you, hoover.

As much as I feel buried under the enormous, cascading pile of shit that has been thrown on me recently, I will endure and try to focus on the positives. There are small victories, and I am grabbing them and holding them close to me to keep me going. Here is one.

Little Girl really, really hates mushrooms. With a passion. If one accidentally passes her lips, it results in a reaction akin to cyanide poisoning. Retching, gagging, the works. (I’m pretty sure that’s not how people react to cyanide poisoning, but take a look and see if I care.)

Well, I wrote that a bit wrong. Little Girl hated mushrooms.

The other day, I made a lasagne. And I put loads of mushrooms in, because Big Girl and I love them and it just wouldn’t be the same without them. I think she can always pick them out if she hates them so much.

That day, however, she surprised me. She shoved a mushroom in her mouth, chewed, swallowed and declared, “I like mushrooms now!”

Man, my kids are so fucking awesome.

Just like their mum.

Just like their mum.