Being a parent is by far the toughest thing you will ever do – I realise now why my Mum went grey and Dad worked so much. They provide the best moments of your life but they will make you consider drink more often than anything else you will ever experience.
To those new to parenting or thinking about having kids here are a few tips and guides to things you are never told about:
1. If I’ve said it once…
Saying something once and expecting it to be understood or listened to will never happen again while you have kids. They seem to think that the first seventeen times you are saying something to them were merely practise runs at the real thing. You can change volume, tone, accent, position in relation to them but nothing seems to matter. I wish I’d invested in a digital recorder and just said things once, recorded it and then put it on a loop so eventually the message will have gotten through.
2. Blind leading the blind…
Children will never be able to find anything regardless if you use neon signs, spotlights and fanfares they have an inbuilt inability to see what is right in front of them. There is also a correlation between these first two points and the amount of time you have to do something. If you are in a hurry the ears and eyes have a secret pact they bring into play to annoy you even more and make you late for everything. Shoes are the big culprit of becoming invisible to children – it’s like they only appear when an adult is nearby.
3. Hand to mouth…
You can put a thousand items in a room that are clean and safe to touch but your child will have a sixth sense that allows them to go to the one item that isn’t. This will usually be a bin, toilet or pet food in your own or other people’s houses. Stones are especially interesting to a toddler’s tastebuds – something we must lose as we grow up as I’ve never wondered what gravel tastes like. And always remember even if they have attempted something before they will still try it again to make sure they don’t like it (except any healthy food you give them of course).
4. One rule for one…
Your parents will drastically change during the grandparenting experience. Do you remember all the bollockings you got when you were a child? All the things that you were never allowed to do? ALl the threats and angry voices they used on you? Well they’ve gone now and are replaced by the exact opposite of your own experience at their hands. Bedtimes are flexible occasions that don’t need fixed times; snacks are fine between meals, during meals and instead of meals; they don’t give the grandkids into trouble, instead they cuddle the child and say “is your Daddy being bad to you? while you try to discipline them.
5. Tantrums and screaming are inbuilt and not learned behaviour…
No-one teaches them these things they just come pre-programmed with a frightening decibel level and the ability to try to speak while crying which leaves them unintelligible. You will try to decipher the noises and each attempt that is wrong causes the noise to increase until you finally defuse the baby bomb. They will also be set off by Supermarkets – I don’t know if there’s a frequency played as you enter or if they somehow know when you’re halfway round that they have to start crying for no reason. Fellow shoppers will disown you as their little darling looks angelic compared to your screaming toddler.
6. Patience is not a virtue…
No it’s actually something that is finite. You are only born with a small amount of it and there is no way of topping it up at ay point. Children will test your nerves daily but be aware that the more you use up in the very early stags the less you will have for the terrible twos and threes that are still to come. You know that quiet place you used to have I the house? That’s gone because they will follow you to it if able – and if not they will make sure the noise/fighting/moaning/clattering will start as soon as you go there. Just lock the door on that place and return to it once they have grown up and left home.
7. OCD + Kids = Lady MacBeth
Even the most house proud parents will have to concede that their house is now the property of their kids and the mess they leave behind is impossible to clean up. There will be fingerprints on mirrors and windows that seem impossible for them to reach; stains on flooring that are either chocolate or… ; marks on the walls and furniture you spent buying and painting that will never come off; and there will be new ways of doing things and new places for other items to be kept that the child or children will decide that you don’t get a say in.
8. Mind readers
They know what you’re thinking. All the time – it’s like they are playing Jedi mind games with you, planting ideas only to watch you fail. You want an early night – they want a party; you want to watch a TV programme – they can’t sleep; you sort out their Christmas list – they decide on something completely different on Christmas Eve. They know, and they will use it against you to ensure they always win.
9. Red is the colour
All food your kids will eat is red. It will stain everything from clothes, to the furniture, from plates to the aforementioned walls. Like a Model T Ford you can have kid’s food in any colour as long as it’s red.
Remember sleep, silence, lie ins, quiet Sundays putting your feet up watching the match, big nights out, a social life, spare cash, quiet drives, listening to your choice of music, Sky planner with all your programmes on it, your gadgets & computers, unplanned nights out, sanity and spontaneity? If you do, then you don’t have kids. Remember them, cherish them, enjoy them – because you won’t see them again until the kids are all grown up.
Apart from that they are great. Aw kids eh?