Suddenly a cry rings out, causing a shudder of tiredness to run up my spine and take root in the bags under my eyes. Next, probably by magic, your feet find the floor and you question y our existence. The door opens and a night light illuminates the face of a crying toddler, you smile broadly – pushing back your own desire to cry. Then, tot in arms, you collapse into the chair and break into a droning “Incy Wincy Spider…” as you look at the clock. It’s 3 am. But the tot doesn’t care about the time. Why? You get your answer as the full flavour of the nappy he’s just filled wafts towards you. Happy Birthday.
As a parent, I’d worked my way through all the stages that are supposed to be hell on earth: sleepless nights, teething, separation anxiety, having your shoes filled with sick… the whole gamut. And the thing was, that despite all the hype, none of these events was quite as bad as I’d expected. Like the worst type of film – all the best bits were in the trailer, leaving my partner and I feeling slightly underwhelmed to experience the supposed horror of the real thing.
It was with this (understandable) sense of over confidence that I greeted the my son’s (inevitable) turning from 1 to 2. It was simply a number, I told myself. A personality doesn’t change THAT much as the result of just getting a little bit older. What was the worst that could happen? After all, we’re just talking about a tiny tot.
HOW WRONG WAS I?
For our kids, when they are young, we are the entire world. A mindbogglingly important role. It worries me if I think about it too much. In their eyes we, as parents, have almost superhuman abilities. The power to make everything ‘OK’ is our most potent gift.
Nobody, and I really mean NOBODY is interested in other people’s holiday snaps. They are the photographic equivalent of watching Songs Of Praise at your nan’s house or uncomfortable chats with taxi drivers – something to be endured and got over with, as quickly as is humanly possible.
I’m sorry to say it, but it’s the same with other people’s kids. We all love our own offspring, we find what they do absolutely fascinating. We talk about them endlessly. We rearrange our entire lives for them. Yet, despite all this, our kids are ONLY of interest to US. For everyone else they are (at best) dull and (at worst) actively irritating.
I feel like one of those highly painted ornamental figures that you see in Bavarian clocks – going round and around in circles on a pre-allotted path every morning. Some day soon I’ll find myself clanging a bell and singing some indistinguishable ditty as each quarter hour strikes.
Why am I wearing out the pavements?
It all comes down to the time of day. Between 10 and 11 EVERY morning, I walk in circles with my son in his buggy.
Because this is his ‘Nap-time’.