Elizabeth Dawes, a full time parent and part owner of a wine bar, discusses the ups and downs of childcare.
Children have an amazing ability to take you out of your immediate life, and demand that you deal with them right now. Exactly right here and now. Even if you are having a coronary arrest. Even if your numbers just came up on the lottery. Even if the four horsemen of the apocalypse have ridden onto your front lawn, and are drinking from your birdbath, you still have to stop what you are doing and deal with whatever it is that has just gripped their world with such urgency. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and I’m grateful for the life lessons they can teach me. They take me out of myself and remind me that to live like a child, in the here and now, can be a wonderful and liberating thing. But now and then, just occasionally, I do wonder whether the cure is worse than the disease.
My three year old son can take his nappy off on his own. I know he can do this because I just walked into my sitting room to find its contents on the floor, next to the grinning pantless boy. And before I could stop him, he gave it an almighty kick across the room. I don’t mean he stumbled over it, or ran joyfully towards me catching it with his foot as he went. I mean he saw it, considered its position, took a few steps back, crouched slightly (think Johnny Wilkinson at this point) and ran at it with the biggest kick his three year old little legs could muster. I have just finished clearing up the flying sausage, including from down his legs, between his toes, under his toe nails, and the little extra nugget I found 10 minutes later under the TV table when I wondered what the dog was trying to lick.
"When I told my friends about it, they all had similar tales of nappy based misfortune, yet not one of them saw fit to mention this to me beforehand."
My five year old daughter was standing next to the footballer, muttering under her breath. As I mopped closer to her I distinctly heard the words: "Mummy! Mummy! He’s poo’d on the dog!” In my panic I dismissed this as factually inaccurate, until about an hour later, when the poor dog came to sit on my lap. It turns out my daughter is a more reliable reporter than I had previously given her credit for.
I’ve always been a squeamish sort, and as parenthood approached I became obsessed with the more revolting aspects of my job-to-be. I would ask people how they coped with the nappies, the vomit, the half masticated tepid food, the dribble, and the seemingly endless supply of snot. They would smile serenely and coo that I really shouldn’t worry, it’s not that bad, not when it’s from your darling own offspring, etcetera. Why do parents persist in continuing this myth? There cannot be a man or woman on this planet who would not have found the above scenario, at the very least, revolting. And when I told my friends about it, they all had similar tales of nappy based misfortune. Yet not one of them saw fit to mention this to me beforehand.
Not that bad when it’s your own? A more obvious lie hasn’t been told since man first uttered to woman: “Put the map away! I know exactly where I’m going!” I hold those liars personally responsible for my predicament. I could have been forewarned. I might have made other choices. I might even have stayed as a hedge fund lawyer and hired an army of nannies. But no. And now my life is now changed forever, you liars, and I’m the full time parent of a footballing nappy monster. And there’s nothing I can do about it but be a good goalie.
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Picture credit: Rex Features