I’m just shy of a year of being a parent (excluding the pregnancy stage) and I’ve done what most parents inevitably do: I’ve reevaluated my parenting techniques.
Before having a child, I was the perfect parent. My future children were going to be well-nourished with only fresh and organic produce, they were going to be content and happy ALL of the time due to my exceptional attachment parenting skills, they were going to be spoken to in gentle, hushed tones… *cue the sound of a record screeching to a halt*.
I’ve come to realise that parenting does not happen in a vacuum. It does not happen with the necessary requirement of sleep. And sleep deprivation does something wicked to the soul, I’m telling you. There’s a reason it’s used as a form of torture.
So, without further ado I bring you a small collection of the things I never thought I’d do as a parent.
1. Use a dummy (or paaacifier for any americanos out there). Not on myself, obviously. I mean, give one to my baby. I used to cringe when I witnessed a baby or toddler with a dummy. Couldn’t handle the parenting gig, huh? Had to shut them up with a rubber nipple, did you?
The first six weeks of having a baby were filled with an uncontrollable period of screaming EVERY evening. I fed her, loved her, held her, changed her nappy, ate only plain foods so as not to give her wind. And still, the crying. I’ve since discovered that some food intolerances may have been at play, but that’s another topic. I persevered in a dummy-less state for six weeks, believing dummies were only used when parents couldn’t be bothered tending to their child’s needs. I also thought it was cruel to give a baby a dummy. Like a steak attached to a stick in front of a dog. Where’s that milk? Keep suckin’, kid! You’ll find it. Aaaaaaand…. Sleep!
One night I finally relented and began the feverish search for the discarded dummy my sister had purchased for me. She had known that one day I might just be in this desperate predicament.
I found the dummy and boiled it up. The wait felt like forever. Then the wait for it to cool down. Every second ticked anxiously by. Finally, I hesitantly popped it into her mouth. Like a duck to water. She sucked it for a few seconds, closed her little eyes and went to sleep in my tired arms.
“We’ll just use it for sleep time”, I said. Fast forward to a few months later and she would give out a little whinge. Thank heavens my friend gave me one of those little dummy straps. I quickly locate the dummy and shove it in her gob. I had purchased a natural rubber dummy to make myself feel less guilty. I would justify its use to perfect strangers. “Yes, it’s very soothing. We only use it for bedtime”.
She doesn’t look asleep to me. Shut up, imaginary judgement from total stranger.
Fast forward again to today where my baby hasn’t taken a dummy for nearly six months and I’m all “I don’t think we’ll need a dummy with the next one!”
We shall see, forgetful parent of a measly one child. We shall see.
2. Swear in front of my child. This one gives me the guilts just thinking about it. It’s especially hard to write. I don’t like swearing, but there are occasions when the odd word slips out. And again with the sleep deprivation. It turns you into some kind of monster. It’s one thing to slip up when they’re a tiny blob of a being, but when they start mimicking words, you better watch yo’self! The other day in the car I said to myself about another driver “Psycho”, and in the back a little voice piped up “say-koooo”. Be afraid, be VERY afraid of what children will repeat.
3. Feed my child meat. In my pregnant state, I had envisioned my child as a beautiful vegan, loving earth’s animals (and not in a culinary sense). But alas, it wasn’t to be. Chicken, lamb, salmon, tuna, beef, ham… These are just some of the offending items my baby has consumed. I had anticipated that someone may try to feed my child meat when my back was turned. I had worked myself up to that. Inherently I knew that my child would merely taste it, then spit it out with haste. What is this barbaric protein you are trying to feed me? Bring me my lentils!
But the reality is two-fold. I fed her the meat. She loved it.
4. Find my baby eating sticky date pudding. Ok, so it wasn’t actually me who did this. I hate to dob him in, but really, I’m not going to implicate myself in this one.
I made a sticky date pudding for my husband on his birthday. Special treat. The next day, I noticed him holding the baby whilst eating it. “That’s cruel!” I stated to the back of his chair. As I made my way around the chair, I started saying “She’s going to want-“, when suddenly I noticed how quiet she was. An impossibility when someone other than her is eating. Then I saw it. The unmistakeable traces of pudding all around her mouth. I scooped her up in horror and blurted out some expletives. See point two. WHEAT, DAIRY, SUGAR! A whirlwind of nightmarish substances had just entered my child’s pristine digestive system.
“What?” He replied. “I didn’t give her any of the sauce”.
5. Give my baby a pencil to play with while changing her nappy. Just writing it makes me feel stupid. But there I am, handing her the pencil she’s been trying to get, thinking “there’s something different enough to distract her for 15 seconds”. After all, I’m closely supervising. “Waaaahhhhh!!!”, she cries after poking herself in the face (face sounds better than “eye”) with it approximately 1.5 seconds after I give it to her. Mother of the year. Parenting fail. I again refer back to point two.
6. Use the television as a babysitter. “Let’s have fun along the waaaay…. Giggle and Hoo-oo-oot… Giggle and Hoo-oo-oot!”. I partially know the theme tune. I hang my head in shame. Once when I was really sick, I was so incapable of interacting with my child that I switched on the TV, clicked it onto ABC2 and left it on for a good while (AKA all day). Channel 22. A God-send for any sick parent. She was transfixed. For all of about five minutes. After that point I found myself staring open-mouthed and feeling like death, only to discover she had crawled off to find something more interesting to do and I was sat there wondering, “What happens next, Dirt Girl? Do tell!” Now there’s a show I can justify letting my kid watch. If ever there was a show for my kid, it’d be Dirt Girl. All about the outdoors and nature and composting. Ironically teaching them about such things while they sit inside and stare at a box of electricity, but at least it has some depth to it.
Not like that bloody Jemima and her so-called ‘Big’ Adventures. Really Jemima, a BIG adventure? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the dragon episode at least twice now. Not such a big adventure anymore, my friend. You might be able to fool the kids but us parents are getting pretty darned sick of the same five things being shown on a loop.
7. Casually ask my child if she has poo on her face. Disclaimer, in case she comes back to sue me for emotional distress in her adult life: It wasn’t poo, but it was worth the sniff. It looked rather suspicious.
So, come on parents, tell me about some things you never thought you’d do as a parent. We’re all friends here 🙂 And those of you who aren’t parents, feel free to share your ideas on what you think you WILL do as a parent. Us parents will then shake our heads and smile, as well as reserve the right to laugh at and mock you when the time comes to parent your offspring.