“No, you eat what’s on your plate first and then we can talk about a packet of marshmallows.”
Unless I’m the exception, every parent has uttered that exact phrase or something very similar to it at least a thousand times and no matter what their age, I expect we will all say it a thousand times more in some form or another. Along the same lines is this one, “No you can’t have syrup for a snack, that’s sugar and we don’t give children sugar at bedtime.”
That is, not unless you’re planning on checking into some sort of convalescent facility the next day. Sugar and bedtime are words that don’t even belong in the same language.
It’s all for naught though because ultimately, your child is in charge. You either feed the children what they demand at bedtime or you run the risk of having to feed them what they demand at three in the morning when they wonder through to your room like zombies in search of brain.
Then the next morning when your alarm goes off, you’ll feel like your child snacked on your left frontal lobe all night long and at that point, tying shoe-laces will seem like a task only a NASA engineer would be able to accomplish. So you’ll wear Crocs, bunny slippers or shoes that employ some sort of Velcro mechanism to work. Not a good look unless you work at Google.
Parenting is not easy. That is not to say that people with meeker dispositions cannot or should not have children, it’s just that they’ll probably have a tougher time of things. For one thing, they will have much more homework to do whilst raising their children. Literally. They’ll probably find themselves rendering their child’s idea of a clown, using wax crayons and cotton wool, just before bedtime, on a school night, all the while taking editorial input from their child.
Moving right along.
It does get easier as they get older, that much is certain. But all that serves to remind you of is that you were super-human when they were born and have somehow steadily lost your powers since then. Our boys are able to grab a snack to sate a hunger or pour a cup of water to quench a thirst on their own (without too much spillage) and yet we still seem to be doing so much else for them.
Bum wiping being paramount amongst these tasks. It was almost easier when they were in nappies. Back then one would wait until there was an almost palpable odor in the room and then you’d simply wipe it, change it and ziplock the entire thing into a bag bound for the land fill. Now, one has to watch them like a nuclear reactor operator checking gauges on a night-shift in Chernobyl circa 1986. When they begin to show signs of a potential meltdown, you quickly steer and accompany the source of the smell into the bathroom and then sit a vigil for the number two to arrive. This could take anything from a few seconds to an hour. Get comfortable. Preferably near an open door or window. Our eldest often won’t get off the throne until he’s produced a certain number of number two’s. Yes, he counts them. Plop. Plop. Plop. There’s no point in arguing.
Then there’s wiping, which again was easier then the child was on their back with feet in the air but is much more complicated with the child standing up, moving about the bathroom like a bee looking for a flower and asking endless questions about mundane things.
Finally, you wash your hands and then force them to wash theirs. The future lawyer in the family sometimes asks me why he needs to wash his hands if he didn’t wipe his bum. I am at a loss to explain it to him except to say, “You must.”
Still, it’s not all as grim as it seems. More often than not after your feed it in the dead of night, your child will curl up in your bed between you, the now zombie by default parents, and will in so doing create the perfect ‘H’ when viewed from above. This is a particularly comfortable way to spend the remainder of your nights sleep. Yes, comfortable compared to say the Rack or indeed the Thumbscrew.
Then there’s the snoring and faint aroma of food and farts that, at odd intervals, twerks your sense of smell. A sense which is really quite acute in the dead of night for some odd reason.
It is then, at that very moment, that you are reminded of the fact that you are a parent. That this creature snuggling next to you, hogging all the available real estate in your bed, is yours for life and you embrace the fact that the journey is a beautiful, exciting, mysterious, fulfilling, terrifying and perfect thing.
The sleep should arrive moments later. At worst a week or so later. Ok, a month at the very outside. Fine, no more than 18 to 21 years.