Friday, 27 June 2014

10 things you can't plan for as a parent (but totally should).

Parenting is not so much about pre-emptive backburning as it is about putting out constant spot fires.

When you first find out you’re pregnant, you get all proactive because at that point, you’re in control of your life:  you buy cots, nappies, wipes, baby clothes in all sizes and you really convince yourself you’re going to be TOTALLY on top of this whole parenting game.

Then you give birth to a small human being and it slowly dawns on you that you are no longer in full control of your own destiny.

With every year that passes, there is something else no one told you about that you should really have planned or had a contingency for. That’s when you realise that parenting is not so much about pre-emptive backburning as it is about being prepared to put out constant spot fires.

Be alert, but not alarmed because …

Here are 10 things you can’t plan for as a parent (but really ought to anyway).

1. Stitches

If you have kids, someone, somewhere at some point in time is going to need stitches.  You can say, “Careful …” all you like, but sooner or later someone is going to just run headlong into a brick wall anyway. You can’t prevent it, but you can prepare yourself for the fact that your kid will  go to pieces when the doctor produces a needle and thread to sew up the wound.

What you should also be prepared for is the fact that it’s not so much the stitches that will make your kid scream, but the needle that comes BEFORE the stitches, often times directly into the wound itself, that will require you to exercise your best firm-hold-use-arms-and-legs-to-keep-him-immobilised grip to keep your child from flailing around when the needle goes in.

In fact, one of the most common refrains of parenting is: Do you think that’ll need stitches?

With the underlying subtext of: Can I get away with not taking him to the emergency room this time?

2. Nits and worms


No matter how fastidious you think you are, these will at some point enter your home.  You can’t really prevent it but you can mentally prepare yourself for the inevitability of it.  Don’t freak out, don’t be ashamed: it’s just nature’s way of making all parents equal. Because no matter how vigilant and ‘clean’ you think you are, it will happen to you.

If you are really unlucky, one or both of these will make their way onto your person.  Which is the point in your life when you really know you have become a parent: sitting quietly while your partner combs bugs out of your hair like a couple of chimps in the jungle.

Or perhaps treating yourself to four squares of  ‘bum chocolate*’ after dinner.

*a.k.a: Combantrin

3. Midnight vomit


Learning to run to the bathroom to vomit into the toilet is a massive developmental milestone that should be on all key developmental indicator lists.  The day your child identifies their body’s ‘vomit’ signals and reacts accordingly is almost as a big a day as when he takes his first steps.

Until he reaches that point, you need to mentally prepare yourself for the fact that your kid will wake in the night and either vomit all over themselves or come into your room and vomit all over you.

What can you do? Nothing much except acquire a good vomit clean-up technique that can be carried out in the dead of night without waking up the whole house.

4. A totally trashed couch that not even Vinnies will take


If you are planning on getting a new couch, don’t bother until your youngest child is about 10.  There’s no point.  It doesn’t matter how vigilant you are, that thing will be trashed.

Just accept that your couch is no longer a couch, it is a jumping castle, baby change table, cubbyhouse, giant serviette, a snot-post (like a cat’s scratching post but for snotty noses), a wee-absorber and a place where the baby will vomit.

And when you are done with it, just take it into the backyard and set fire to it. Believe me, Vinnies doesn’t want it.

5. Spilled drinks


It doesn’t matter how many times you say ‘careful’ or ‘don’t spill that drink’ or even reach across and shift the glass of milk away from your child’s flailing, clumsy hands, there will be a spilled drink at dinner time at least once a week.

My advice: just serve water. It’s easier to clean up and doesn’t make the floor sticky.

Sometimes my kids spill their water and I just leave it to dry. Can’t be bothered. It happens all the time. It’s like breathing in and out in this house.

6. Concussion


So far, we have had two concussions in this house.  Two out of three kids ain’t bad.  Be alert but not alarmed when your child, after falling and hitting their head somewhere, suddenly asks you the same question three times in a row or cannot remember what day of the week it is. And get thee straight to the ER.

Take a good book and maybe a deck of cards because once you reveal to the doctor that your child lost consciousness, if only briefly, you will not be allowed to leave that emergency room until the requisite four hour monitoring period has passed.

7. An act of defiance or mischief that is totally out of character (or so you thought)


Just to keep you on your toes, your child will at some point, when you are least expecting it and when it is least convenient, do something completely out of character that will see you sitting in the principal’s office lamely saying something like, “I don’t understand, it’s just so unlike him.”

It seems to be a rite of passage for kids to suddenly turn left when all their lives they have always turned right,  to suddenly decide they will be the kid who steals everybody’s calculator and hoards them under their desk, to spontaneously write nonsensical profanities in chalk all over the wall behind the girls’ toilets (yours truly, I still don’t know what possessed me.)

It happens to the best of us. You can’t plan for it, but you can be prepared to come down like a tonne of bricks on your kid in order set them back on the right path. Rest assured, the tonne of bricks approach usually works with most kids and only has to be employed once.

8. A bathroom of embarrassment


When you have ‘company’, be prepared for the fact that your kids will probably leave a ‘deposit’ behind for your guests to admire. You can try to go all Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction and be the equivalent of a crime scene ‘cleaner’, but it is inevitable that the one time you forget, will be the time the real estate agent comes around to bring prospective buyers through.

(At which point you need to impress upon your potential buyers that the extra ‘feature’ in the toilet bowl is not one of the inclusions.)

If it’s not an unflushed deposit, it will be an inexplicable ‘banner’ of toilet paper from one side of the bathroom to the other, a wee-sprinkled toilet seat or toothpaste spit in the basin.

9. Being implicated as racists


I have some friends who are the most right-on, proper, non-racist, unbigoted people I know. They are exemplary human beings and carefully impart their values to their children at all times. But their youngest child is determined to make them look bad.

He was last seen barring another child of ethnic descent from entering the preschool cubby house while saying, “We don’t want your kind in here, chocolate face”.

I have no suggestions for this one, it has me beat.

10. Imperfect teeth


All the brushing and flossing and careful coddling of those beautiful pearly whites will not prevent the inevitable. It is an unavoidable fact of childhood that something will be knocked out, chipped off or broken in half before the onset of puberty.

So far we have had one front tooth cracked in half and one that has had to be pulled out because it had an abscess. Teeth are one of the major casualties of childhood.

Find a good dentist and have him on speed dial.

*Note: the coining of the phrase "bum chocolate" should be credited here to the Mckee/Gray household of Cammeray

1 comment:

  1. Haha I've had the pleasure of being asked for "bum chocolate" before - kids love the stuff!