You may not be aware of this, but all mothers attended parenting school.
Whether you remember or not is a different matter.
School started when they lifted baby off your chest to cut the umbilical cord. School ended when they placed baby- this time wrapped in a blanket, back onto your tummy or into the bassinet next to you.
Approximately 2.8 minutes.
That was your lot.
I hope you were paying attention ladies and didn’t just mutter ‘don’t bother telling me, I’ll figure it out as I go along’ because you know as well as I do that this is the fool’s way.
The romantic, birth induced, euphoric, Silly Billy way.
If you were a real mummy and listened attentively, you would not have missed the core part of the curriculum.
The 3 Rs of Parenting School. Hard Core Style.
None of your anzy panzy subject choices back when we were students.
No. If you knew your 3 R’s, you were guaranteed to graduate with a substantial parenting degree.
For those of you rebels who, when baby was lifted from your tummy rolled over and slurred, “WTF just happened?? Get me off this soaking wet beanbag,”
I am here to give you a speed lesson on what you missed. This time, pay attention, please.
Parenting School #1.
Think back to before the days of children. When you had a life.
There you go.
Routine will no doubt have played a role in your life. We all like a bit of routine. It makes us feel safe and comfortable.
I’m talking routine along the lines of “Oh I always go to Pizza Express on a Wednesday when I work late” or, “funny how you always massage my left foot first”.
That sort of routine.
But. Once you become a parent, suddenly, like every other frigging thing that you possess, your mundane little routine no longer belongs to you.
The children. They steal it. Kidnap your routine and mould it into their own.
Baby’s Bedtime Routine,
And no. I’m not talking about the candles and Enya routine of old. This here is baby’s bedtime routine (if you’re lucky).
Turn the musical thingy on above the cot, creep out of the door, stand outside the room for two minutes, don’t breathe, make it down five steps.
Stop. You coughed. He’s crying. You idiot.
Repeat. Six times.
Nap Time Routine.
Quick! Clean the bathroom, puree the baby slop, phone your mum, go to the toilet. No time? Phone your mum on the toilet, kick the grit behind the toilet brush. Wipe around the toilet seat with pee-soaked toilet paper. (Yuck) There. Cleaning sorted.
We aren’t called multi- taskers for nothing.
The Dreaded Meal Time Routine.
God help you if you haven’t got that high chair up and spoon at the ready, hovering, before 5 pm.
Wrong coloured bib? Tut.Tut. Forget it.
Just throw the dinner on the floor. It’s where it’s going to end up anyway.
Junior Age Routine.
Moving swiftly on to the junior age.
Swimming. Every Tuesday afternoon. Watching other people’s kids flap about like drowning halfwits in the pool, all the while thinking ‘it’s Wednesday. I should be having a glass of white wine and some garlic bread at Pizza Express.’
Teenage Routine (If There is Such a Thing).
Bringing us to the teens.
All of those years spent perfecting the art of turning in early with a hotty (the water bottle kind, unfortunately) ready to bounce out of bed to watch cartoons at 7 am; the routine card plays a cruel trick on us Mothers.
As the Mother of teenagers, you are now expected to be wide awake at 11.30.
Get a shower for God’s sake. What’s wrong with you?
You’re soo boring.
Sing! Really loud!
It doesn’t have to be anything good; just any annoying tune will do.
Or, why not sigh and slam doors? Either way, you had better not be thinking of going to bed you pathetic old git.
Parenting School #2
Restricted by Baby.
The baby years are restricting in more ways than you know possible.
No more grown-up treats for you my girl. Yes, I know, you like to tuck into the second bottle of Merlot on a Friday evening, but think of the baby. He might need to go to the hospital in the middle of the night. It wouldn’t look right, would it? You, rolling out the back of a taxi at the emergency entrance, swigging from a bottle of Calpol.
No. Have a cup of tea and watch telly instead.
Restricted by Those of Junior Years.
After years spent listening to the wheels on the bus for the duration of every car journey, the junior years bring something of a light relief.
We are now, it seems, allowed to tune into the radio. Don’t get too excited though; it’s only to the station that plays teeny boppy music. And please, don’t embarrass yourself (or them) by singing along. Just shut your mouth and drive.
And don’t look in the mirror and smile while she’s singing in the back with her friends either. That’s so uncool.
Restricted by Your Teenagers.
Had you paid attention at parenting school you will know that the classification R on DVDs does indeed stand for Restriction. Parental Restriction.
That box set of ‘The Tudors’ that’s been sitting under the telly for years? It’s Restricted. Don’t believe for one minute that just because your teenager is in his room, doing stuff, he won’t come wandering in at the precise moment where Henry takes Ann Boleyn for a romp in the orchard. He will. And as fit as you think you are, even you can’t get to the remote that quickly.
There’s nothing more unattractive than a sexed-up old couple watching porn. Where’s that Only Fools and Horses DVD you got for Christmas?
Put it on.
Parenting School #3
The word that sends shivers down any young, free and single girls spine. Responsibility. This one is just too laborious to bore you with. But know this. As the parent of a baby, are held responsible for everything.
Responsible For Baby.
Babys’ head too pointy. You pushed too hard.
Food? It had better be homemade.
Drink? Those cups are bad for his teeth.
Tired? Your fault.
Hyper? Your fault.
Clothes? Too hot.
Nappy? Too tight. (And I hope it’s made of cotton and organic bamboo)
Poo? Too yellow. I mean…
Middle Years. The Responsibility Takes Full Speed
As they grow into the middle years, bestowed upon you is the responsibility of arranging social get-togethers for your little darlings.
Oh, the joy.
No matter that the last social gathering you went to was the sausage sizzle tombola at the supermarket car park. Never mind that now. Your needs can wait.
You will arrange clubs and activities. Sleepovers and birthday parties, Halloween tours and Easter egg trails. And playdates. Loads of friggin’ playdates.
Overtired kids with allergy problems coming to your house to
play destroy it – demanding snacks. Preferably organic rice cake ones.
Teenage Responsibility. Take it. Who Else Will?
Arriving at the teenage years. Be careful here. It gets tricky. You will find yourself participating in the sick and twisted teenage game of: ‘I think I’m going mental’.
Although you are still very much responsible for your teenager (someone has to be), you have to p-r-e-t-e-n-d not to be. Got it? To add to the confusion, when you do make them happy you will never, ever be given the honour of knowing it.
It is now your responsibility to spend every waking moment pleasing your teenager. Please understand, It’s what you were born for. It’s the law.
Better get the revision books out for the final one.
It’s on page 201.Chapter heading: ‘For heaven’s sake, haven’t you learnt yet?’
The (sort of) responsible way to keep a teenager happy. Ok. Here goes.
Wifi. A computer, a set of headphones, a thick pair of curtains, your absence and a pile of food in said teenagers room.
In fact, just wheel the fridge into his bedroom.
Perfect. Class dismissed.