To quote Hugh Grant in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral: “F*ck it! F*ck! F*ck. F*ck. F*ck. F*ckity f*ck!”
How do they do it? I mean they are small and young and haven’t been taught anything about the behaviour they use, so how do kids know how to push all of your buttons simultaneously? There must be a secret class that none of us can remember from when we were little – or one of the injections they get must hide until they are a certain age and then the tsunami of tantrum floods out of them and turns them into the most vile creature you have ever met. There has to be an explanation for the things I’ve experienced just this weekend.
I love my kids to bits and that’s the bizarre part – they make you love them more than you have loved anything else in your life, a hug or a look or a word can melt your heart like nothing else you have ever experienced and two minutes later you wish you’d never had sex in the first place. The extremes of emotion children bring you are never mentioned in any of the books by the s-called experts, friends will gloss over the worst and event the best they have experienced and it’s as if we all know this but will never pass it on so each generation has to discover it for themselves. Well I’m breaking the embargo folks – here’s the truth!
They will test your willpower more than any other addiction you may experience in your life – your child is better and more dangerous than any alcohol or drug you will ever take. The highs are unparalleled in chemistry but the come down and lows are as if someone has turned life up to eleven and pierced your ear drums. The sheer pleasure and warm feeling you get when you get a hug from them is without question the peak of your emotional existence. When they throw a tantrum like a spoilt little child you really want the ground to swallow you up so you can spend time in hell rather than admit that the little Beelzebub has anything to do with you.
Even the most patient, calm and Zen person will find that there is noise or a frequency of moan/whine/scream/cry that finds the same point in your head and teeth that fingers down a blackboard uses and then takes it to the next level. You will switch from chilled to neurotic in a time period shorter than any measurable amount known to man because they ask “that” question for the four hundredth time in one day. You question your sanity more with children than you would walking down the street in broad daylight with nothing on apart from a jaunty hat and an alligator on a lead. We know that love is a form of insanity so this must be the explanation with kids – our love for them drives us to the very limit of our emotional thresholds.
You get angry and frustrated because you want these little people to grow up and be the best, most amazingly kind, warm, generous, caring, selfless, talented, intelligent people to walk the earth and when that master plan is questioned through their actions or words we panic and assume that they are going to become the next tyrannical dictator who will lead the world to the final apocalypse. You know they are only pushing limits, seeing how much they can get away with but in your heart you see that perfect vision tarnished. It’s our own fault. We need to step back – we’re the adults for goodness sake. Ten minutes later they hug you and you melt back into shape again and the anger and frustration vanishes as if a magic wand has passed over you.
That love is what drives you to do your best by them; it makes you worry for every second they are not in your sight; it makes your heart ache when you are not with them. At the same time it makes you shout louder than at any referee’s decision in history; makes your blood boil more than any scuba diving accident; and drains your patience quicker than a meeting with an ineffectual boss. In the same moment it is possible to love and hate them more than anything else in your life.
That’s what being a parent is – and why we would never change it for anything else in the world.