… or, indeed, far stronger words that you then feel really guilty about uttering in front of a child. By Manisha Ferdinand.
Life with a small person is an amazing voyage of discovery, isn’t it? The wonder of it all, the awe of creating life, the discovery of inner strength you didn’t know you had, unless it comes down to whether or not they can have another biscuit before they go to bed (spoiler alert: they can – anything to get them upstairs).
But often the defining moments aren’t always the ones that you want to treasure forever, or the ones that will go in a scrapbook (as an aside, does anyone actually have time to make scrapbooks? I wish they’d stop selling these things and making us feel guilty for letting them sit, untouched, on the bookshelf…).
No, rather, these are the moments that make your heart sink; the ones that invariably cause you to snap out your sleep deprived reverie and say, out loud to yourself: ‘UH-OH.’ (Or, if you’re anything like me, to use a far stronger expletive.)
In short, it’s the moments of blind panic. We’ve all been there.
When you’re out in the garden and you turn away for one second…
Inevitably you turn back to find their mouth covered in something black and them chewing ominously. You know there was no food out there so…
When you run out of snacks
This only ever happens when you’re out somewhere in public where it’s impossible to get to a new supply of snacks quickly. The emergency oat bar has long since been consumed, the raisins have been thrown out of the pram; even your secret stash of handbag crisps has been donated to the cause of ‘not kicking up a massive stink whilst Mum tries to buy a new showerhead in Homebase.’
When you’ve forgotten the nappy changing bag
At first, this doesn’t seem so bad, right? You can buy nappies and wet-wipes from most shops these days; and besides, wearing a wet nappy for five minutes until you get home isn’t going to do that much damage.
But then you realise just how naïve you were. Your nappy bag isn’t just a nappy bag. It’s the key to your very sanity. Because alongside the nappies and changing mat and wet wipes, also crammed in there were guaranteed tools of entertainment (ranging from approx 3400 plastic toys to a crusty muslin they won’t put down), emergency snacks (see above), extra dummies, Calpol (just in case), a change of clothes, sun-cream, water, a brolly… the list goes on. Remember before you had a baby, when you forgot your make-up bag or phone, and it felt like the world had ended? That was nothing compared to this. This is like forgetting a limb.
When the Sky Box plays up
CBEEBIES IS NOT WORKING. I REPEAT, CBEEBIES IS NOT WORKING. THIS IS A CODE RED, HIGH PRIORITY SITUATION. PLEASE ALERT THE EMERGENCY SERVICES IMMEDIATELY.
When you realise you’re an hour late
The concept of ‘late’ shouldn’t apply to parents with children under six months because let’s face it, at that stage, it’s all you can do to have a shower, never mind get out of the house to a prearranged destination at a certain time. Once you’ve got to grips with it all a bit more though, it doesn’t matter how organised you think you are, or how much preparation you do while the kid’s having a nap (if they nap – see below), there’s always at least two variables which will completely mess your timings up. Common culprits include:
- Your child choosing the precise moment you are about to walk out the door to have the most horrendous, heinous poo-nami, inevitably requiring a jet wash and full costume change
- Having to find the Calpol / suncream / muslin that you’d forgotten to pack despite muttering ‘calpol, suncream, muslin’ to yourself maniacally whilst trying to get ready
- A delivery. It’s probably nappies or something equally essential but WHY must they choose NOW to arrive?
- Pram logistics. Irrespective of whether you’re walking, driving or taking public transport, in some way your pram will conspire to make you late – whether it’s by taking an age to fold up, refusing to fit on a bus or transporting too heavy a load, thereby decreasing your walking speed exponentially.
On reflection, no parent with a child or children under the age of one should be expected to be on time.
Scratch that: no parent at all.
When they refuse to nap during the day….
You’ve been sitting staring at the video monitor for close to an hour, grimly watching your darling baby as they gleefully do laps of the cot / throw their dummy on the floor / try their best to tear their favourite cuddly toys head off. You know they are exhausted. But they clearly didn’t get the memo, and no amount of Ewan the Dream Sheep or shushing is going to work. They’ve got it in their heads that it’s playtime, and not only does that mean you can kiss goodbye to any chance of doing something productive, it also means the inevitable…
When they can’t get to sleep at night…
I defy you to find anything more frustrating than a baby who is crying because they’re tired. And as their loving mother, you have to draw on every ounce of patience you have to cuddle them, and sing lullabies and read The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the eleventh time when all you really want to do is shout ‘IF YOU HAD JUST GONE TO SLEEP DURING THE DAY THEN WE WOULDN’T HAVE THIS PROBLEM.’ There is nothing quite like the creeping sense of panic as the time between official ‘bedtime’ and you leaving the nursery lengthens into the hours. Even when you and your partner tag-team the lullabies and rocking, it’s still pretty disheartening to finally sit down to eat dinner (which, at this point is probably a take-away, let’s face it) at 10pm.
When everything goes really quiet
WHAT ARE THEY DOING?
When your toddler comes into the room smiling
WHAT HAVE THEY DONE?