I know this has been done before; however this is my apology and a large part of the reason it’s taken me so long to write a blog. Fear of judgement has held me back. Because I know how much I judged those that went before me. So this is me naming and shaming myself as a previously judgemental childless human being. Before I had a tiny human of my own to bring up the best way I knew how I judged. Oh my did I judge. Never openly- I wasn’t that lady shaming people in the street, but what I did wasn’t really any better. I judged in my head and made lots of little mental ‘notes to self’ about the parent I wouldn’t be as a result of witnessing these interactions between parents and children.
So here is my list of things I categorically wasn’t going to do as a parent:
I was never going to be that Mum that let their child have a dummy! I hate them, always have always will, I hate them even more in photographs.
This one I’ll have to admit took baby #2 and her inability to settle or sleep unless she was attached to a nipple to break my judgement on. Two weeks in I ate my words and gave P one, however there were rules. She was only going to have it in bed – yep that lasted all of ten minutes when it came in handy in the car, in Sainsbury’s, at the library for Rhyme Time! After a while the odd photo even appeared where she had this monstrosity in her mouth (you can see I still haven’t quite put this judgement to bed) and although I still hate them I certainly don’t judge anyone for using one – some babies are simply ‘sucky babies’ and no one needs to have trashed nips, those bad boys are useful treat them well!
My children were not going to have plastic toys, light up flashing brightly coloured plastic shit would not come to our house for a play date; nope we were going to have beautiful traditional wooden toys in our house. You know the type you see in lifestyle magazine shoots, in houses that no child has even set a grubby toe in let alone a foot!
Well if you got to reading this blog via my viral eBay listing of the “Jumparoo – aka The Circle of Neglect in our house” you’ll know I caved on this one too. We have a house full of shit that lights up and sings monotonous rhymes in American accents. Those dulcet tones of the counting tortoise ring around my head at 2am when I can’t sleep, and its these toys that are seemingly indestructible! How is it my mobile is dead in an instant when it gets a trickle of bath water on it; the fecking counting turtle however has been fully submerged in the bath and he lived to count and gleefully sing another day!!!
How could I not cave, the first time I saw Houdini’s face light up as he “hopped on board the animal train” there was no way I could let the love of my life go without this joy in his life. And oh the moments of down time these plastic piles of crap gave me made them worth their weight in gold.
I’d like to say I gave the wooden toys a good go, I bought many a pull along dog and xylophone. Some were even mildly successful at entertaining my tiny people, but given the choice the plastic wins every time….
I wasn’t going to allow my child/children to watch TV.
What the fuck was I thinking!!?? “The Square Parent” as the TV is know in our house is my saviour most days. It’s how I manage to hoover, prepare food, get dressed, get the children dressed, at times feed the children. It is my biggest and most effective tool to bribe my children with, which brings me neatly to my next point…
Bribery. I wasn’t going to be that Mum that used the phrase “if you do this for Mummy I will let you XXX etc etc etc”
My children were going to behave because they wanted to, not because I was going to give them something in return for good behaviour! Like fuck were they! This bizarrely is one thing I attempted to hold out on for as long as possible; I even chastised Mr B for using it for a while, then apologised profusely when I got on board the bribery train.
This is the foundation of my parenting and some days gets touted about before we’ve even opened the curtains and made it out of Houdini’s bedroom… “If you put pants on Mummy will let you watch something on the iPad”, “If you brush your teeth Mummy will let you watch something on the iPad”, “if you stop crying Mummy will let you watch something on the iPad”, “If you don’t wake P up Mummy will let you watch something on the iPad” you get the gist the iPad is my biggest bribery tool. It has to be the iPad, this boy isn’t a foodie so cake and chocolate are not as effective with him as they would be with others – Me for example, I’d behave well any day of the week for a KitKat chunky. If I didn’t bribe Houdini some days we couldn’t leave the house; as even though I’m a big advocate of a child making their own choices and dressing themselves, nakedness is still something wider society would struggle with and Sainsbury’s on a Friday morning in nothing but Bug wellies… maybe not!
I would never Shout my Childs name over and over again in a bid to get their attention/ get them to behave/ simply listen to me.
Clueless fool that I was… It is not a merry coincidence that Baby #2’s first word was Baby #1’s name! She didn’t pick this word on the off chance it would be useful. Nope P heard me yell Houdini so much in the first 6 months of her life she obviously believed this was a stronghold of the English language and seemingly the only word she’d ever need; along with the word no…
I wasn’t going to say ‘No’ to my children…
Again Fucking clueless!!! No is one of my most used words. And P’s second word accompanied by a nodding head action as she babbles ‘no no no no’! As a childless being I bought into the thinking that you should give your child other options, so gently saying “Were not running, Were walking” in place of hollering “HOUDINI NO RUNNING” across the park. In the heat of the moment, actually in just general moments when you’re in charge of a child No just slips out. Whilst I’d make a fortune on a swear jar I’d make a fuck load more with a No jar.
Swearing, I wasn’t going to swear in front of my precious little things…
Fuck Shit Bollocks Wank – failed epically on that one then. In all honesty I had the best intentions but somewhat missed the boat on this one. By the time I realised I should stop swearing as Houdini was repeating everything I said he was repeating my swearing…… And he was swearing in the correct context so, much as I’m not proud of being a sweary parent or that my three year old can be a bit of a potty mouth it’s fair to say that ship has sailed. I can’t claw it back now, but I will say I think because he hears it as everyday language he has never used swear words for effect to get a rise out of my or fellow adults so maybe exposure is the key?
Still I pray he doesn’t ask “is this an Oh Shit moment Mummy” in front of his Great Granny, or utter “for Fuck sake” in church when he drops something; and if this happens I will obviously pass the blame “Gosh I wonder where he’s heard that”!!??
Baby Language. I wasn’t going to use fake words like ‘lellow’ or ‘dactor’. Nope my offspring were going to talk properly from the off; I’d simply correct them until they said it properly.
Little did I know how my heart would sing when I heard those mispronounced words, I’m now sad I didn’t record all of them and write them down to keep those lovely mispronunciations forever. Pyjamas will now forever be known as’ Jamamas’ in our house, I hated the day that the ‘Sofie’ (a hybrid of Sofa and Settie as Mr B’s family use a different word to my family) just became a plain old Sofa once more. I can’t remember how Houdini used to say crocodile but it wasn’t crocodile and I wish I could remember his word for it.
What I didn’t realise before I had children is that baby language is precious, gems of childhood that you can’t get back as your child develops, they form your memories, create your child’s personality and give you hours of fond memories. My friends little girl couldn’t say Grandpa, and for some time he was known as ‘wankar’! Priceless when in a supermarket she was shouting for ‘wankar’, something we still laugh about now. These words are your own family dialect, a language for the inclusive club of ‘your family’ to use, it’s the confab in jokes are made of, text that siblings are linked by. Who am I to deny my children of this.
Since having children I try to be supportive of other Mummies – I try not to just give a knowing look of solidarity and support, I’ll say in Costa to a harassed mum with a screaming tantruming toddler “Don’t worry we’ve all been there” mostly because the day someone supportably told me she’d too dragged her child round the supermarket by his reigns I realised we all going through the same thing, touturing ourselves enough with the decsions we make.
So Sorry, Sorry I judged you.
You’re doing a brilliant job, you have your shit together, you’re amazing.