Parenting: The Stuff They Never Tell You

I am a semi-helicopter mother and not proud of it. Here are some things I’ve gleaned in the past few years of parenting. I’m not sure how helpful this is but for those contemplating marriage and eventually kids, do read this once. It may give you a different perspective (read abstinence or hardcore contraception) or it may reinforce what you see and hear in front of you everyday anyhow.

So..here we go!

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#1 Having a conversation with anyone else barring your child is like being in a boxing match. It goes like this- you speak 1,2,3 and someone jabs you. You try to regain your balance and speak again 1,2,3 and this time it’s an uppercut.

There are rare conversations that you can have without being interrupted; till you decide to give it up and just focus on the kid. And guess what precious nugget comes your way when you do? It’s quite possibly something along the lines of – (imagine it being spoken in all caps) “You know what? My poop is all orange from all the nachos I ate yesterday!!” And you nod helplessly because you hung up on an overseas call with your BFF to hear about your kid’s bodily function.

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#2 Farts are important. If they stink, how loud they are. If you’ve noticed the abovementioned smell and noise. If you haven’t they’ll probably poop their pants trying to squeeze one out that the whole neighborhood can be proud of.

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#3 You have to watch everything you say. Literally. Imagine becoming a psychotic with visual hallucinations where the words you think materialize in front of your face. You reject a few and allow the rest of them to be uttered. If you don’t, the next time you may be subjected to a bout of , ” Gimme a break or a ” Oh for crying out loud!” from a 1st grader because you cut off digital media or pool access at pre-agreed upon times.

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#4 Pool times are deadly. The child *never* remembers that staying for too long in the water causes their skin to prune up. When you tell them their time’s up, they mimic dolphins and scoot away from you.

Wading into the pool and dragging them out leads to yells and screams tantamount to child abduction with people looking at you and your offspring in distaste for causing ripples in their recreation or serenity.

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#5 Some part of the body always hurts during homework or DEEEEP sleep to rival Rip Van Winkle’s comes on in droves and it goes away only when the threat of homework does. And then, the recovery is more miraculous than the walking on water phenomenon! Faster too!

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#6 Waking the child up in the mornings is a drama par excellence. The hands flung over the eyes a la Scarlett O’Hara, the burrowing into the covers like a mole and coiling up smaller and smaller like a worm or a snake makes you gobsmacked! One child going through all these changes in a matter of seconds is nothing short of amazing.

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#7 Say goodbye to your stereo and tv and tablets. The kid rules all and owns all. You don’t come in second. You don’t come in. Period.

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#8 Holiday destinations are decided by where the wild things are. Literally. The continent with the most venomous snakes, biggest crocs makes the cut. Relaxing at a beach? Sure…but can you also see the Inland Taipan or the Tasmanian Devil? No? Then it’s a no-go.

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#9&#10– these two are probably the most annoying IMHO. Your bedroom and your bathroom time are no longer your own. And that’s mystifying because why on earth would someone want to spend so much time talking to you through the bathroom door, wanting to know what you’re doing, when you’re coming out and even going to the extent of shoving their ever-growing drawings of dragons under the door for you to peruse while you’re focused on something entirely different and faar more important.

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They creep you out by looming over you in the weekends; the one time you don’t have to run and bundle them into clothes and catch the school bus. They whisper slowly into your ears, distorting dreams with reality; often shoving tiny fingers up your nose to wake you thoroughly and even body flop on your sleeping, unsuspecting self just to tell you they LOVE YOU. And you feel compelled to reply in kind while you blindly kick out, hoping to connect with that tiny butt and get them the hell out of your sacred sleeping space.

Ah parenting…what a ride!

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Broken But Kinda Intact…

It goes without saying that if I blog when my kid has a cold or sneezes excessively, a post has to be forthcoming when he breaks his wrist.

The miniature love of my life was zooming away on his cycle when he swerved hard to avoid an oncoming bike and fell on his wrist- neatly breaking 2 bones and causing himself a world of grief.

And here I must interject with how good it is to live amongst a community of people watching out for each other because while my mind was shooting blanks, a friend told me which hospital to take him to and another one just turned her car right around and took us to the ER and paid for his xrays while we waited for Red to show up. I just had my phone and was keeping MLM company in the backseat with no wallet and essentially no worries barring what his x-ray should end up showing. And I could focus on my kid and his pain because there were people looking out for me. *Thankful to the nth power!!*

Anyhoo, we reach the ER, confirm the break, put the offspring’s hand in a splint causing him pain beyond what he and I both anticipated and then get back down to getting him settled in with his pain and eventual surgery.

The surgery went off well, the tears have dried up and we’ve come back home and I’m almost at the point where I can look at this as a rite of passage for a small boy while he’s  growing up. But the rite of passage of being a parent never gets easy. Seeing your kid’s body arch like a bow while he screams in pain is just bloody awful and gets seared into your retina.

But what’s amazing is how resilient kids are…they can have a cannula stuck in their arm, cringing at each and every minute move which no doubt sends pain running up and down their bodies but they will still be smiling through their tears once cartoons are on.

They will eventually recover enough to ask for extra tv time, or iPad time or for the extra chocolate you wouldn’t normally give them and they will do it in that soft, sad, little lost child tone with those puppy dog eyes that beseech you. Man! kids can play us but good!

Amen to that!

Getting My Goat!

These aren’t those bleating goats. No Siree! They are those invisible metaphorical goats whose horns keep poking at you something fierce about stuff that irks you at the very least and makes you want to take a sledgehammer to stuff at times.

So back to all my irks…and there are quite a few…dirty nails, people who think from between their legs all the time, those who can’t hold their liquor and make crude passes, bitchy people…you name it and it irks! But an irk especially close to my heart is one about moms and their kids.

Let’s get something clear at the onset- NO ONE IS EVER READY TO BE A PARENT! Not in the truest sense. You buy into the idea but you never can imagine the gamut of the doodoo that comes your way; in and out of the nappy.

I have always had an extremely capable and proactive husband by my side while I make my way through the maze that parenthood is. I’ve never had a maid for my kid. Somehow it just didn’t click. Not for lack of trying either. It was one of those things. And for the most part I think the kid’s turning out ok. He wants to be a dragon when he grows up but no one’s perfect and life’s weird.

If life were normal, I’d be in Bora Bora with Hugh Jackman right about now! Anyhoo…*reluctantly puts fantasies in the box labelled “night-time fun”*

Today while my flesh and blood was frolicking in a kiddy play area in our complex after getting back from school, a nanny suddenly told me to watch her charge and vamoosed. Before I could blink she was making long-legged strides down the landscaped yard and going out of sight.

She had vaguely pointed towards the playground equipment and told me to watch the kid who till then I’d neither seen hide nor hair of. I took a peak around the corner to see a little boy, not even 3 years old, happily exploring the place and clueless about the fact that his caretaker was gone.

I called his name and said hi and apparently that was spooky enough for him because he jetted too; looking for his nanny and acting like I was the proverbial stranger that moms warn kids off from.

I chased the kid all the way to the place where the buses drop off our children and managed to grab his hand before he hurtled himself near an oncoming bus. Phew. My angry eyes did nothing for the tot or his nanny who didn’t even think to apologize.

I got the mom’s number from one of the other moms and called her and told her what had happened. Her thank yous were distinctly lacking in sincerity and warmth and that’s to be expected. No one likes people critiquing them or their choices; strangers doing it is even less welcome I’d imagine.

But while I don’t relish wearing the hat of the playground police, ever since I’ve become a mother I can’t *not* be anything other than a mother if any child seems to be in potential danger, negligent situation or anything that seems less than ideal.

Despite my gung-ho approach, my own child, close friends’ kids have still managed to get hurt, sometimes narrowly missing a major injury and therein lies the rub.

Maids, nannies end up being surrogates for parents but aren’t parents at all. Not to anyone else’s kids. They are hired help who may be good with our kids but handing them over to the kids without adequate checks and balances isn’t to our advantage and certainly not to our childrens’.

I don’t fault moms who have nannies. It’s a choice they make. And they live with it. I made a choice to go nannyless and it’s something I had to live it. Wasn’t easy by half! But try and have the measure of the person you’re handing your baby over to. They may love your child but be closet kleptos (as a dear friend found out recently), they may not have vices but their personal hygiene might entail a one-way ticket to a pig sty. Anything!

My personal view is this- safety in numbers works for us all. Adults and children alike. And when someone points out that your child wasn’t in the most secure position and was deliberately left vulnerable by the one person who was supposed to keep him safe; for Pete’s sake! keep your snit to yourself. People would rather be cuddling their own kids and sipping hot coffees rather than charging after a toddler barrelling towards an on-coming bus!

Loads of scary shit already going on in this world!

Here endeth the lesson.

 

The Low Down On Having Your Kids

Kids are trouble. If our parents had known that then and unless they were full of the love of humankind our existence would be voided.

But this is a more realistic and non-candy floss way of looking at having kids. The making of the kids is probably the best part of the entire deal but then again it only takes about a few tries so you’re jipped in the end anyhow.

The birthing and that carnage aside kids are plain and simple parasites. You love them to bits and wouldn’t stomp on them or spray pesticides at them sure, but till they strike out on their own and sadly often, long after that, kids are parasites. Only this kind of parasitic relationship is one we encourage so in the end it turns out to be a whacked-out symbiotic relationship of sorts since we derive these gurgles of pleasure from them feeding off us.

And when I say feed, I mean the the kind of feeding that bleeds you dry emotionally and physically long after the actual weaning has been done and dusted.

YOUR life, YOUR space, YOUR bubble of YOU that is a kitschy mix of sanity+kookiness+idiosyncrasies is made to go on an undefined time out and it’s like you’re made to face the wall without being able to see your earlier self for an unknown amount of time.Do NOT pass go. Do NOT collect $200 and no hope for parole.

Parenting is exhausting. Rewards not always visible. Discernible, And it’s scary as hell to have a hand in how the course of someone’s life will shape up, how their personalities will blossom or not based on how YOU play YOUR cards. Having kids is the closest you get to playing God and that’s an area that’s fuzzy enough for humans with our heady mix of believers, heretics and agnostics. So, to willfully do that with another human being is nothing short of crazy! And it’s completely selfish. No one really needs kids. We just want to have them.

The saving grace (and there are many) is that you experience intense emotion in a manner that’s akin to a knee-jerk reaction, the love is fairly unconditional and makes you rise above yourself and put someone else’s welfare before your own. We seldom do that for anyone consistently throughout our lives barring our offspring. That does help you grow in some ways but it doesn’t stunt your growth either if you don’t indulge in it. And the crux is that parenthood changes you SO much and none of it is change you wanted or planned for. And it’s the change that the kids bring that we instinctively fight back against all our lives.

Loving your kids is the only safety valve to that bit in life. Or is it?

But you have to admit, if the little humans we pop out are cute lil things, the whole grin&bear-it becomes so much easier! Just saying.

Parents Vs. Kids…Tis A Losing Battle

Ever since my kid’s been old enough to blink he’s had me in the palm of his hand. There was no one more fragile, delicate, beautiful than he. Even now, although far from being a baby, he’s still the most beautiful face I’ve beheld; in my humble opinion.

And because he knows his power over his parents, especially moi, it often leads to tres annoying situations where I wish I could spank that bottom cherry tomato red. And then immediately feel guilty for thinking it. Aargh!

Today’s interaction went like this. I was being stern because he’d decorated the inside of his school van with PURPLE CRAYON. Big. Long. Purple. Squiggles. Wiggles. All . Over. The. Inside. Makes my head hurt to think about it.

The driver was understandably miffed and conveyed his miffedness to me with clipped tones and showed me my offspring’s handiwork. The culprit in question bounded from the vehicle with joy and cheer for all mankind and said big, magnanimous goodbyes all around and regally went his way home.

Realizing after a few seconds of silence that his mother wasn’t pestering him with the usual rapidfire questions about school and what he’d eaten, the brat started an interrogation of his own. This is how our conversation went:

MLM: Why you not talking?

Me: I’m upset.

MLM: Why you upset? Wha happan? (not typos, the kid talks like that).

Me: You made a mess all over the van. That was very naughty. Poor School-Van Uncle will have to clean it all up. More work for him. That wasn’t nice at all.

MLM: I made pretty puhple snakes!! See…they go (makes undulating gestures with hands).

Me: You are ONLY supposed to use crayons on paper. NOT the FLOOR and not the VAN.

MLM: You angry? (kind of tentatively asked)

Me: Yes. I’m upset. You never listen to your mother!

MLM: Nooo…I LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER!! (protesting his innocence)

Me: (trying to cover up my laughter in snorts..) I mean you don’t listen to ME…I’m your MOTHER, Einstein!

MLM: You want a kiss? (puckers up)

Me: NO I DON’T! I don’t kiss naughty boys.

MLM: You want hug then?

Me: Just go bathe and get that purple color off your face and hands and think about why I’m angry and what you’ve done…(steam coming out of my ears)

And the gurgling laughter of a brat who jumped into the shower greets me while he happily sings, “London Bitch Is Falling Down”.

You. Just. Can’t. Win.